Zoey Lawson of Grand Forks’ 841 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron applies survival skills

Zoey Lawson of Grand Forks lived on her own during a four-day field exercise where she built her own shelter in the wilderness.

Fourteen-year-old Zoey Lawson with her very dirty chicken that she snuck in with her to her final survival field exercise in Nanoose Bay

Fourteen-year old Zoey Lawson of Grand Forks and her partner, 13-year old Jeana Park of Port Moody lived on their own during a four-day final field exercise, building their own shelter, preparing their own meals, collecting their own water and essentially practising all the survival skills they learned over the previous two weeks.

On the morning of July 24, assessors visited each of the two-person teams at each of the 20-plus campsites, evaluated their performances, and then had them get ready for the two-hour drive back to Victoria.

When asked what was her biggest challenge over the final exercise, Lawson said immediately said, “Boredom!”

Not surprising, given the busy cadet is always on the move, over and above her schoolwork at Grand Forks Secondary School and her commitment to 841 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron – she also takes karate and art lessons.

And what was Park’s biggest challenge? Being isolated from the rest of her flight (classmates). “We are friends with the entire flight,” she said. “It was hard not to see them.”

During the three-week basic survival course, the cadets learn how to react when an emergency situation arises and they do not have access to the normal comforts of home.

More than teaching teens how to camp, the survival course provides hand-on exposure to primitive outdoor living skills, how to aid in a rescue as well as how to be rescued. The teens learn how to problem-solve under adverse conditions, including being hungry and isolated, under stress and with a lack of sleep.

They also learn how to push their personal boundaries, a transferable life skill that can be applied to any situation, regardless of the life path they choose after they leave the cadet program.

The successful course cadets graduated on July 26 during a formal parade at the Albert Head Air Cadet Summer Training Centre in Victoria, B.C.

– Contributed by Lt.(N) Peggy Kulmala, public affairs officer with the air cadet camp

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