Last July, I had the honour of representing Western Australia at the Chief of Army cadet team challenge.
After a physically challenging trial process involving the beep test, an endurance walk with weights attached and a swimming trial with long sleeve clothes and shoes on, I was announced as one of ten Army cadets to represent our state at the national competition hosted in Canungra, in South Queensland, where we would compete against 9 other teams from different states plus one Australian Air Force Cadets team.
The day we flew out, we met up at Irwin Barracks, received our team uniforms, and took a bus to the airport. We arrived at Kokoda Barracks in QLD just after midnight, where we organized ourselves for the upcoming days. We had one day to train together while we waited for the South Australian team to arrive, and then the next day we were off into the field.
There were 13 stands, each with a different challenge. These challenges included a mass casualty scenario (with 10 casualties for only 10 of us, requiring someone to radio and another to record information, with injuries ranging from shock to an amputated leg), an engineering stand (where we had to build structures and create a pulley to transport supplies across a river), stretcher carrying (an 80kg dummy over 4km), and navigation (through 3m tall tallgrass while going up a steep hill). All of these challenges were timed and assessed for discipline and teamwork, as well as adherence to the Australian Army Cadet values of courage, respect, service, integrity, and excellence.
In between stands was for some the most difficult part, with steep, and I mean steep, uphills and downhills through the jungle warfare centre, as we walked with our webbing weighing us down over about 18km the first day and 14km on the second, which would have been manageable if it weren’t for the fact that we were soaked from the rain, not to mention the challenging terrain.
We went to bed under a hootchie and changed into a dry uniform, but since we were going to get it wet again the next day, after a chilly morning we painfully got changed back into our soaking wet uniform and begun the rest of our activities.
The culmination of this all was a confidence course that’s also used to train proper defence force personnel, involving climbing across a rope upside down, swimming under barbed wire (wet again after I just dried off) and crawling through a tube where the water gets deeper and deeper until you are fully submerged.
Even though it was cold, wet and physically enduring, I loved every minute of it with my team and I’m thankful to all involved in making these events a reality. Australian Army Cadets has helped shape my character, build my independence and make friends from across the state and potentially even the country, and it is amazing that this opportunity is offered at St Hilda’s, an added bonus is that it was essentially free!
And hey, it was worth it, WA flew home with the 1st place trophy!
I hope that everyone gets behind outdoor programs like cadets, as it has been and continues to be great fun!