Newton is excited to have Cadets and Cadet NCOs attempting to gain their Duke of Edinburgh awards at all levels, Bronze, Silver AND Gold. Climbing over 2,855m and taking over 5 million steps each, four members from Newton Squadron successfully completed their four day Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition; despite the unpredictable weather that Snowdonia threw at them.
Cadet Flt Sgt Thomas Dodge, Cadet Sgt Paul Johnston, Cadet Sgt Edd Chapman and Cadet Cpl Nick Daly from Newton squadron made up four of the members, joined by Sgt (ATC) Kyle Crawford to make up the five man team. On every level in the Air Cadet organisation there is a real determination to encourage cadets to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. At Squadron level the number of successful completions of the awards continues to grow by the day.
The greatest challenge in the DoE scheme is often seen as the expedition. There are several major changes from Silver to Gold; the biggest change is the environment that the teams work in. At Gold level the teams travel to environments like Snowdonia and they can be far more demanding than anything done at the previous levels. Another change is the length of the expedition, carrying out a four day expedition as well as an acclimatization day prior to setting off. Nevertheless Gold DofE also offers new experiences like the team got the opportunity to wild camp and had to be totally self-sufficient. They sourced their water from a nearby stream and carrying everything they need to camp. They also found out that wild camping does lack some comforts for example the team didn’t even have flat land to pitch their tent on.
As the team reflected upon the expedition, it was clear that it was a challenge but it didn’t put them off the outdoors. Cadet Flt Sgt Dodge found it “A hard challenge but well worth it” while Cadet Sgt Chapman stated “[it was] one of the best experiences of my life, I loved every minute”. Cadet Cpl Daly found it a “joyful experience with ups and downs”. So the general consensus is that while it may be a challenge you reap the rewards in the long run. It should however been emphasised that it only makes up part of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award with candidates also needing to complete their residential, Physical, Skill and Volunteering sections.
By Cdt Sgt Paul Johnston
1936 (Newton) Squadron