Lt Col D Konstantinious, Deputy Commandant, GL SE Sector ACF
On 11th August 2023 Greater London South East Sector ACF departed the UK…destination South Africa. The objective: to have the adventure of a lifetime; to give young people the opportunity to experience being in the wild, learning the importance of animal and land conservation. The aim of the expedition was to give Cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) an overseas expedition that involved adventurous training, battlefield tours and safari activities.
“The team is well. High spirits all round. We are excited. I feel safe, I’m happy I am going on this trip of a lifetime.” Cdt Swan.
The journey started in 2020, but the world stopped; so did our plans as Covid19 put us into lockdown. During this period we had a lot of online engagement. This helped foster new relationships, keeping the fantastic work that ACF does for our young people current, interesting and not least, keeping the dialogue going for future expeditions.
Fast-forward to 2022: we got the go ahead to start the meticulous planning for our trip. After a successful parent/guardian information evening attended by over 100 cadets, we held selection events that assessed the cadets’ physical ability, team work, decision making under pressure, fitness and a series of personality tests to ensure we had a dynamic team. 24 Cadets along with 6 CFAVs were selected to form the team for the expedition to take place in KwaZulu-Natal province from 11th to 25th August 2023.
We then started fundraising. Many of the cadets created personal challenges, delivered a presentation to their place of employment, made jewellery that could be sold. Generous donations from the Ulysses Trust, various regimental affiliations, parents and even a local school raised money to make this expedition a reality.
The cadets were keen to get themselves both physically and mentally prepared for the expedition. The team spent just over 10 months preparing themselves, which included expedition walks, kit prep, hygiene sessions on staying clean, fit and well.
The team comprised cadets of 14 to 18 with a range of cadet training abilities. Our CFAVs had a wealth of experience of previous overseas expeditions. Regardless of experience one thing is for sure is that the selected CFAVs were there to ensure the cadets had the adventure of a lifetime, in a fun, safe and engaging environment.
During the expedition travelling to different parts of South Africa the team participated in a safari walk and drive to see the Big Five, a battlefield tour, giraffe study and conservation work, community engagement with local schools, a bush walk, a water safety swim test and kayak day, raft building and the Tugela River bush camp.
Cadets were also given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the everyday life of our hosts and embrace the cultural differences, learning about traditional ways of living.