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Over the summer holidays, a St John’s pupil went with the UK Army Cadet Forces on exchange to Canada for six weeks to take part in an expedition instructor course. This rare privilege is enjoyed by just 12 cadets from across the UK each year, but the outstanding letter of application written by Max Phillips (Upper Fifth, Surrey House) earned him a place on the exchange.
Max was hosted by Bravo Company, based at the Canadian Forces Base at Camp Argonaut, New Brunswick. During their first week, there were various team-building activities. Cadets underwent a fitness test, too, and took a first-aid course. They also did kayaking and canoeing, which was vital preparation for what took place next.
There followed the 18-day group expedition, with stages devoted to camping, canoeing and kayaking. Each night the cadets would pitch camp in a different place, sometimes in the forest and at other times on the beach. The adventure was unforgettable, leaving the exchange cadets awestruck by the wildlife of the country (hawks, bald eagles and even a moose).
All the cadets had to show much flexibility. Throughout the six weeks plans needed constant amending because of extreme weather: high winds, tornado warnings and Hurricane Arthur. A solo expedition, too, had to be shortened owing partly to a storm and partly to sightings of a menacing mother bear in the area protecting her cubs.
Before they returned to the UK, the British cadets were treated to a four-day visit of Prince Edward Island. Accommodated for the first time during their stay in comfortable hotel rooms, they combined sightseeing with the chance to have a taste of Acadian culture, which originated from French settlers in eastern Canada.
On his return Max commented: "The people I have met were incredible, both for their diversity and friendliness, and the experiences and teaching I have received have not only been character changing but also extremely useful. These are things I will undoubtedly go on to use for the rest of my life." His full report can be read here.
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