Learning to Navigate

Cadets of Trent Wing, RAF Air Cadets, took to their tents, equipped with maps, compasses and supplies to complete the National Navigation Award Scheme’s Young Navigator Gold Award.
Perhaps the weather was not quite as you would expect for April, a dusting of Snow overnight on Friday, led to a slightly colder morning on Saturday. Undaunted by the weather the cadets arrived at Thorpe Camp, near RAF Coningsby. With a mix of cadets from 141 Boston Squadron, 1073 Skegness Squadron and 47F Grantham Squadron its was important they got to know each other so the first task was to complete a set of team working and leadership exercises to build the team spirit. It would prove important for setting up the tents, a challenge some found more difficult than they thought!

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The aim of the award is to encourage exploration and journeying in the local area, learning to navigate by simple maps, from Ordinance Survey to road maps. The training element saw cadets get to grips with map features, contours, map symbols and Grid References, before getting an in depth briefing on the kit required to undertake an expedition safely. Taking bearings whilst on the move was also a key part of the course, enabling the cadets to navigate safely around the camp in darkness and plotting where they were in less than ideal conditions.
On Saturday Night the cadets attended a memorial service to 619 Squadron RAF, a Lancaster Bomber unit flying from nearby RAF Woodhall Spa during World War 2. Thorpe Camp is home to a number of memorials in its role as a museum, which also includes an Air Cadets museum, in recognition of the work of the Air Cadet Organisation over the last 75 years.
Waking to a crisp frost on Sunday morning, the cadets and staffed pressed on with the training programme. After refreshing their work on Bearings, with the added benefit of daylight, it was time for a change of activities, utilising the Wing’s Archery equipment, with cadets trying a different form of target shooting. It was a welcomed break before the cadets set out on a planned walk to put their theory and practical sessions to the test, which must have worked, as all the cadets completed the walk and obtained the Gold Award.
Flight Lieutenant Leigh Withnall, Officer Commanding 141 Boston Squadron said ‘The Gold Award is an ideal lead in for cadets who are undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. It provides a practical and interesting mix of training which can be easily achieved by the cadets before moving onto the more challenging Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I am really pleased that the all the cadets have passed and will receive the Gold Star Award.’