At the end of March this year (29th to the 31st) I was invited by my friend Dave Lewis to help out with training his cadets from Enfield Sea Cadets at Danemead Scout Camp. Danemead is near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. The staff with Dave and myself were Keith Coleman, Alan Lewis, Emma Deasey and Allen Holloway.
The aim of the weekend was to start navigation and team-working training in preparation for our District and Area adventure training competitions. From the outset I could see that Dave had a proactive team who were very keen to work together. This was the first of a number of training weekends that culminated with the team winning the Area Chosin Cup for Adventure Training and also winning the Team Leaders cups at both District and Area level.
This was the beginning of that chain of events though. Danemead is one of my favourite campsites as it is near to most of the Units I work with but feels sufficiently remote to offer good training.
The weather for the weekend was a mixed bag, generally cold with sleet and rain but with sufficient periods of dry spells to make it comfortable.
The cadets love to try out hammocks so on the Saturday we put up some for them to use. We have managed to fundraise some money to buy some hammocks from UK hammocks.
These Woodsman hammocks are like little nests. You lie diagonally so you end up with a much flatter sleep. I am afraid if you have never slept in a hammock then the only way to understand what I mean is to try out a hammock that allows you to sleep diagonally.
Not a pretty picture I am afraid but I am snug as a bug in my hammock.
Due to the winds and rain we felt it better to put up the big tarp rather than the usual parachute.
Key to operating at this time of year is to have a warm brew on hand and the fire as usual provided the evening’s Woodland TV.
Also there was some heartening food in the mornings.
Over the weekend the main focus was on navigation and leadership skills. All the cadets brushed up on their map and compass skills. While out and about we also focused on group leadership and set some scenarios such as First Aid.
The navigation was undertaken in some of the beautiful woodland and farmland around Danemead.
During the Saturday walk we had sunshine, rain, sleet, snow and sunshine again. Thankfully the snow did not lie.
On the trek we came across a dead fox in an old disused caravan. The fox did not look like it had been there long. As it was the end of the winter it may have curled up here and been to weak to move. We came across another dead fox later that day at the side of the road which had probably been hit by a car (but no obvious trauma signs on it).
As we went along we spent time studying tracks and scat. Some of the cadets I’ve worked with a number of times don’t think I am too mad for spending so much time looking at animal poo – but they all do when they come out with me for the first time.
During the walk I spotted a muntjac laid up under some brush but as we got close it bolted. Up close we spotted the hairs it had left behind (coin included for scale).
Also there is a Wildlife Park nearby and we came across these sawed bones near the fence. Makes you wonder what is around at night!!
I was chuffed to see the cadets pointing out all the feeding stations they could find.
We came across a shelter so took the opportunity to get a picture and get a bit of shelter. The cover was not great but it certainly got them out of the wind. We did check to make sure it was clean enough and strong enough before we used it. I personally like to dismantle shelters I build after use, but this one did come in handy.
Apart from navigation we set up some archery as this is a regular event on the adventure training competitions. Prior to starting though as everyone was a bit cold Alan took everyone through a bit of gentle Tai Chi to warm us up. Everyone did enjoy it (eventually).
Then we had fun.
They got pretty good with the Atlatl as well.
In between classes a cadet will make their own fun (though I suspect they are not allowed to do this officially!)
I think this is the weekend I introduced Dave to the EDC hammock chair. This chair sits in my pocket ready to be used whenever we stop for a break in the woods.
I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend and it was the first of many for Enfield Sea Cadets on the adventure that culminated in winning this year’s Chosin Cup competition.