Joint Winter Training a First Cool Experience
THUNDER BAY – A first of its kind weekend of joint winter survival training for Junior Canadian Rangers and army cadets from Thunder Bay was a success, according to many of the 24 teenagers who participated in it.
“It was cool,” said Junior Ranger Braydon Fox, 14, a grade nine student at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and a member of the Junior Ranger patrol in his home community of Mishkeegogamang First Nation. “I love being outdoors and I loved being able to make new friends with the army cadets.”
“I thought it was really cool,” said Andrea Mattice, 15, and a sergeant with 2294 Army Cadet Corps. “It would be pretty cool to train again with the Junior Rangers.”
The “cool” training included learning how to snowshoe, light fires, set snares, build improvised emergency shelters, haul toboggans, and make bannock. It took place at the Grey Wolf Boy Scout Camp in the municipality of Neebing, south of Thunder Bay. Instructors included four Canadian Rangers from Mishkeekogamang and Lac Seul First Nations, all of them experts in how to live on the land.
“The weekend allowed Junior Rangers who are going to high school in Thunder Bay to have an opportunity to participate in a training activity while they are not at home in their own communities,” said Captain Caryl Fletcher, the army officer commanding the 750 Junior Rangers in 20 First Nations across northern Ontario.
“I think it was a win-win for both the Junior Rangers and the cadets, everyone learned from the weekend together. We’re already talking about more joint training, with the cadets going to Mishkeegogamang for a joint exercise there.”
There were marked differences in the way the Junior Rangers and the cadets participated in the training. The Junior Ranger program is more informal than the more highly structured army cadet program. All the Junior Rangers were Aboriginals, while most of the cadets were non-Aboriginal.
Temperatures over the weekend dropped to a low of -28C with wind chills of -39C. The severe cold meant an overnight sleep-out in the improvised shelters to be cancelled for safety reasons.
“I felt the Junior Rangers were better than us in the outdoors,” said Sergeant Mattice. “They were more comfortable in the cold.”
The Junior Rangers, who were all familiar with snaring methods, helped teach the cadets how to set them and also passed on their skills in building emergency shelters. But they also learned from the cadets.
Junior Ranger Fox was impressed by the way the cadets looked after their personal belongings and equipment at the camp. “I learned how to keep my stuff organized,” he said.”I’m going to be much better with that in the future. They were very neat and organized with their stuff.”
“The cadets learned that there are different ways of doing things and that our way is not necessarily the right way or the only way,” said Captain Sarah Squier, the cadet commanding officer. “Each group learned from the other. It was a good weekend together. Everyone learned from it.”
Sergeant Peter Moon
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)