How many teenagers will voluntarily sleep in a tent in temperatures below -26 degrees Celsius for three days? Two local army cadets recently did just that.
Cadet Master Warrant Officer William Hoskins and Cadet Warrant Officer Isaiah Crossland-Belle participated in Exercise Subzero 2014 at 5 Wing Goose Bay in northern Labrador, along with 19 other senior army cadets from throughout the Atlantic provinces. Both are members of 2444 Kings County Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps based at Camp Aldershot.
The cadets were selected from a pool of applicants for Subzero, a highly sought-after and competitive advanced training opportunity open only to senior cadets. From March 15 to 22, participants trekked over 40 kilometres – nine hours each day – across the frozen tundra surrounding Goose Bay and scaling Dome Mountain that lies west of the airport.
“It was cold,” remarks Hoskins, 17.
Crossland-Belle, also 17, adds he was looking forward to getting warm throughout the expedition.
“Sometimes it’s all you can think about, but you just keep going,” he said.
The group was well trained and equipped, however. In the days before stepping off, the cadets learned to use Canadian Forces cold weather equipment, including snowshoes and artic tents. Safety and survival briefings and how to properly dress for the conditions were part of the program as well. Cadet Instructor Cadre officers, who are qualified as cold weather instructors, trained and supervised the cadets during the exercise.
“Conditions were miserable while we were doing it but looking back, I loved every minute of it because it was so challenging,” said Hoskins, a Grade 12 student at Central Kings Rural High School.
The army cadet program helps to get Canadian youth between the ages of 12 and 18 off of the couch and outdoors. Adventure training like Exercise Subzero is a key component of the program, as are citizenship training, leadership development, fitness and sport, drill and ceremonial training, and fieldcraft. Training takes place at the corps level on a weekly basis, and cadets also may also be selected to attend summer training at one of seven training centres on Canadian Army bases across Canada.
“I would recommend this program to anyone,” says Crossland-Belle. “You can’t find these kinds of experiences anywhere else, and you can go places for free.”
More information on the Army Cadet program can be found at www.cadets.ca, and those interested in joining the local unit, 2444 Kings County Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, can call 678-7930, extension 2123.