Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Silver Star Expedition (2017) - Part 1

My 200th post!
I spent the first three days of May preparing supply plans . . . for the next three school days.  The preparations happened after school because I still had to teach during the day.  Three of my cadets were selected to participate in the upcoming Silver Star Expedition in Manitoba and I was their escorting officer.  This would be my second time attending the expedition.  Unfortunately, I would not be able to celebrate Star Wars Day with my students because I would be travelling.  I gave JF several Star Wars themed videos for him to show if he chose to.
(In the Canadian cadet program, training levels are organized by star colours: Green, Red, Silver, and Gold.  Beginners start at Green Star and advance each year.  Gold Star is the highest star level, but senior cadets can attain the Master Cadet qualification if they apply.  My three Silver Star cadets are in their third year of training.)
In the weeks leading up to the expedition, the cadets were issued their olive green field training uniforms (FTUs) and learned about ticks & Lyme disease.  We would be hiking “in the bush” and I wanted my cadets to be prepared.  The disease has been getting a lot of news coverage recently and I recall a tick needing to be removed from a cadet’s neck last year.

Iqaluit's new airport terminal looks
almost ready.
We left Arctic Bay on May 4th (Star Wars Day).  We were not required to travel in our FTUs but one of my cadets decided to because the clothing he was issued was brand new.  Our flight plan was much different this year.  For starters, the plane wasn’t chartered.  There weren’t enough cadets from the three participating northern corps (Arctic Bay, Naujaat, Rankin Inlet) to warrant a charter.  Secondly, we would be travelling to Winnipeg with an overnight in Ottawa.  The turboprop plane stopped in Pond Inlet to pick up more passengers and then flew to Iqaluit.  We boarded a jet plane for Ottawa. 
My bed at Connaught for the night.  The cadets slept in similar beds. 
Going to Montana's for dinner.
We were met by a navy Lieutenant at our gate.  I introduced myself and the cadets.  He escorted us to a government owned van after we picked up our luggage in the Arrivals Area.  We were driven to the Connaught Ranges on the west end of Ottawa.  We would spend the night there.  The cadets & I were given bedding and assigned separate beds in three hard shack tents.  The Lieutenant drove us to a nearby Montana’s for dinner.  I ordered a steak dinner.  The cadets were given an hour to shop at WalMart before returning to Connaught.
Breakfast at Tim Hortons.
Everyone woke up bright and early on May 5.  It took us about an hour to get all our affairs in order.  The navy Lieutenant drove us to the airport and watched us check in.  We met the officer on the other side of security.  He holds a special clearance card that lets him bypass the regular security checkpoint.  We had a quick breakfast at Tim Hortons before boarding our flight to Winnipeg.  I thanked the Lieutenant for his hospitality.
We were met by an army captain at the Winnipeg Airport.  He drove us to Polo Park Mall and said he would be back in several hours to pick us up.  The cadets from Naujaat & Rankin Inlet would be arriving in the afternoon.  We were free to hang out in the mall until then.  My cadets were old enough to walk around the mall by themselves.  We ate at the food court and even went bowling.  I collected the cadets’ food receipts because they would be reimbursed by the Department of National Defence (DND).
Dinner bags.
Receiving dinner bags.
The Captain drove us to 17 Wing, the military base on the other side of the Winnipeg Airport.  We met the cadets & commanding officers of 3018 Rankin Inlet & 3055 Naujaat corps.  We also spoke to several officers who work at the Regional Cadet Support Unit (RCSU).  The RCSU in Winnipeg is where my bosses work.  Dinner was served about an hour after our arrival: locally made burgers & fries.  I took the cadets for a quick walk around the base to burn off their dinner and to distract them from the fact that the bus was running late.  I had them pose in front of two old military planes parked on display.  I also showed them the hanger where the air force keeps Hercules planes and sends them up north for search & rescue operations.  We then spent some time playing sports in the fields across the street.  The Greyhound bus finally arrived and we were driven to Birds Hill Provincial Park.
Cadets play in the field.
Briefing on where to set up camp.
The staging location (aka camping spot) was next to last year’s spot.  The cadets were formed up and given a welcome briefing by the Captain-In-Charge.  She explained the rules, boundaries, what to expect over the weekend, and what needed to be done after the briefing.  The cadets were divided into groups and assigned tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, and cooking supplies.  Everyone then spent the next hour setting up their tents, moving in, and then it was off to bed!

To Be Continued . . .

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