In July 2014, Central and East Yorkshire wing held the annual Survival and Leadership course at Hag Dyke scout house in the Yorkshire Dales near Kettlewell.
The journey to Hag Dyke was thankfully not an early start; however the trip did take a long time on the bus. But this gave the group a decent amount of time to bond and friendships started to be made, something that we would rely on throughout the week.
On arrival the staff quickly told us of our first task, the short but gruelling trek up the sides of Great Wernside while carrying all of our gear, this was by far the hardest part of the course and defiantly told us that the week ahead would not be an easy one. A kit check was required at the start of the camp, and the pressure started to build up as the staff tried to hurry everyone up. The accommodation was surprisingly comfortable and it was good to remove the heavy packs from our shoulders. We were allowed time to sort out all of our kit and then we were given an overview of the week and our allocated teams. Then it was time for tea as prepared by the DoE Silver team, this was a welcome commodity. After food we finished the first day with a teambuilding task, this required building a cairn (a stone marker) on the plateau above the camp and involved a mixture of role delegating and communication within the teams. The task went very well and my team (yellow) took an early lead as our cairn was given the official ‘standing’ approval as one of the staff had stood on top of it, much to the amusement of the camp.
The first day started early as my team was given the duty of preparing breakfast, this was a great teambuilding exercise and the breakfast came on out on time. After breakfast we began the day with a navigation exercise across Great Wernside to some aeroplane crash sites on the other side. I found this exercise great fun and I enjoyed getting to know my team a bit better. Back at camp the staff gave out the first DNCO role, this filled the leadership part of the week, the DNCO was in charge of all the cadets (because normal NCO roles did not count), they had to organise the cadets and received their orders from the staff. I found the role extremely stressful and at some parts it was very hard to cope with, the constant calling and the words ‘DNCO’ became shrouded in fear as the call often came just before a large shouting session because the DNCO had not done something that they should have. I would still say that the role was a good experience; however, I don’t think it was something I would like to go through too often.
Monday and Tuesday of the week consisted of learning about the survival skills that we would need for the forth coming expedition, such as fire lighting, water purification and camp maintenance. We also had a night bivying in the fields outside the camp, this was a truly awesome experience due to the superb night sky we were granted with and it was not too cold either.
The night before the exped we grouped together to form our route cards and plan our trip, we used the navigational skills we had learnt earlier to help us and I found it a lot of fun to work with my friends to plan our two days away. The start of the exped was an early one and we began to make good time, unfortunately we suffered an injury in our team as one member had a back problem, but we banded together and managed to have a great time on the hills. The first day was about 17 Km but we finished it with plenty of time to set up our Tee-Pee, this was a brand new experience for me and did strike me as unusual at first, but it did work really well, the whole group slept in the inner part with the outer acting as a protection from the weather. Once we had the Tee-Pee sufficiently ‘stoned’ down we began to cook our evening meal, we had each been given a 24 hour ration pack which was, in my opinion very nice, and I enjoyed both my main course and dessert.
We set off early the next day on the return leg, this took us along the valley floor following the Dales Way, this was very pleasant and moral among the group was very high. This route did involve us coming back up the hill but with lighter packs it was less of an issue. On the Friday we completed some more leadership activities that were a lot of fun and we all had a great time, we even managed to do an exercise with the RAF Sea King mountain rescue. This involved us navigating on the ground for them, it was a really good experience and it taught us about the importance of quick navigation and the role that the RAF fills up in the hills.
At the end of the camp my team was announced the ‘winners of the week’ and then the teams gave the building a final ‘clean up’.
I really enjoyed my time at the camp and would definitely recommend it to any cadet. I would return to Hag Dyke anytime and would also like to thank all the staff for making the camp possible.
Cpl Lingard. 152 (City Of Hull) Squadron.