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Cold weather test
Cadets challenge themselves in exercise

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON
With temperatures hovering around -20 C, Cadet Master Cpl. Charles Blondin had a lot on his mind on early this month.

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Cadet Cpl. Thaddeus Timbre packs up his gear on March 3 after spending the night in a tent in the Fort Simpson Territorial Park. - photo courtesy of Bob Jones

In addition to keeping himself warm, the 15-year-old had the safety and well-being of 10 less-experienced cadets to tend to.

Blondin was one of two section leaders during a winter field training exercise that 20 members of the Fort Simpson 2860 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps participated in from March 1 to 3.

The exercise gave all the cadets a chance to practise field training in cold weather and gave the senior cadets the opportunity to supervise and instruct small groups, said Capt. Steve Nicoll, the commanding officer for the corps.

Eight senior cadets began a day early, on Feb. 28, taking leadership training and reviewing camp routines while camping in the Fort Simpson Territorial Park. They were joined on Saturday morning by 12 junior cadets who walked from Thomas Simpson School carrying all of their gear.

"For a younger person, it's quite a challenging load to carry," said Nicoll.

Over the course of the exercise, the senior cadets taught the younger cadets a number of skills including how to set up a tent, arrange their sleeping bags, prepare their rucksacks and light stoves. Sometimes it can be quite a lot of work to look after the younger cadets, said Blondin.

His responsibilities involved making sure they were hydrated, warm and safely surviving the weekend while having fun.

"Everything was awesome except for the sleeping," said Lance Cpl.

Brent Villeneuve, who admitted to being cold at night sleeping in a tent despite two down sleeping bags nestled in a bivouac bag.

Villeneuve enjoyed the snowshoe hike that the cadets undertook on Saturday taking them across the Seven Spruce Golf Course and along the snye before cutting across the village and looping back along the Mackenzie River to the campground.

"It was just cool," he said.

The cadets also went on night hikes. The senior cadets did one on Friday night around the papal site.

"The Northern lights were spectacular," Blondin said.

This was Blondin's fourth winter exercise, but the first one he has helped supervise.

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