Royal Canadian Army cadets from all over BC gathered in Powell River on Thursday, March 10 to prepare for a five-night, three-pronged wilderness adventure.
Fifteen cadets and four Canadian Army officers packed their rucksacks and covered everything with plastic bags in the scout hall at Timberlane barracks. From March 11 to 15 the group hiked from section three to nine on the Sunshine Coast Trail, canoed up Powell Lake and down Inland Lake and biked from Inland Lake back to Powell River.
Cadets representing 14 BC communities including Lillooet, Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox, Abbotsford and Surrey took part in the adventure, most of them getting their first chance to experience northern Sunshine Coast wilderness. Organizers provided the students with all the equipment and food they needed for the trip and covered all costs in order to give this opportunity to youth who might not otherwise be able to go.
Program Coordinator Lieutenant Francisco Escobar said all of the cadets are in the higher levels of the program and they don’t require much instruction while on the trip. Weather would be the biggest challenge facing cadets, explained Escobar, a point which seemed particularly relevant as rain poured down outside while the cadets were busy packing. Staying as dry as possible is the number one obstacle, with a close second being the physical challenge of carrying a 60-pound rucksack while completing the expedition.
“At this level we’re not doing things for them,” said Escobar. “The big thing we want to do with this is get the adventure outdoor bug in them, give them the fundamentals, the basics and then they can build on that.”
Warrant Officer Cole Gamborski, the lone Powell River participant, has been a member of the 2781 cadet corps for five years. He said he’s no stranger to extended expeditions but never one this long. Gamborski anticipated canoeing would be the highlight of the trip and also hoped being a local would serve him well when working with the other cadets.
“I know the area better which means less discomfort and I can probably show them up on a thing or two around this place,” said Gamborski. “I would definitely recommend it to people. You go out in the bush with a lot of your friends and if they’re not your friends then they will be.”
The cadets worked in conjunction with Centre de Leadership et D’aventure dans la Nature (CLAN), a French outdoor adventure program based out of Powell River. CLAN provided the cadets with field guides and fed and housed them for a night. The four officers participated on the trip to guide the cadets and make sure that everything went well.
Having completed this regional exercise the cadets are eligible to participate in national and international outdoor adventures. Last year 16 cadets from across Canada went to Mount Everest in the Himalayas for an expedition and some of the cadets adventuring here in Powell River said they might apply for this year’s international trip.