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New canoes make a splash with cadets

Published: 10 Feb 2017


A £5,000 grant from the RAF Charitable Trust has ensured that adventurous cadets in Surrey won't be left 'up the creek without a paddle'.

Inspired by the popularity of their kayaks, which were funded by the Trust in 2015, Surrey Wing Cadets applied for a grant to purchase eight new canoes, enabling them to enhance the number of outdoor activities offered to youngsters and to expand opportunities in adventure paddlesports.

Keeping their dreams afloat, Trustees approved the grant, which will also cover the cost of buoyancy aids, paddles, helmets and a trailer, recognising the number of key life-skills that paddlesports can help develop.

Flt Lt Benjamin White said: "As a Wing we are continually seeking new innovative methods to engage young people, especially in areas which develop their personal skills and fitness. The kayaks have proved to be hugely popular with cadets and the interest in paddlesports has grown significantly. This would not have been possible without the help we received from the Trust in 2015 and again this year. 

"Whilst the kayaks are lots of fun, canoes are much larger and more stable platforms meaning they are more suited for expeditions. Paddlesports require a lot of physical strength and endurance but also require cadets to use their initiative, as well as improving communication, planning, teamwork, leadership and basic safety skills."

The new canoes will be used alongside the Wing's kayaks in taster sessions and training camps. They will also provide opportunities to help cadets achieve new qualifications and progress to longer expeditions. Next year the Surrey Wing aims to offer canoeing as an alternative DofE expedition, as currently these are all land based.

Benjamin added: "By summer 2017 there will be two additional paddlesport coaches in Surrey Wing. In order for staff and cadets to achieve coaching qualifications or undertake expeditions in paddlesport, they need to be trained and tested to BCU 2 Star level. The BCU 2 star requires participants to demonstrate they are competent in both a canoe and kayak. 

"By training cadets in both skills, we hope this project will continue to increase participation and popularity of the sport and increase opportunities for challenging outdoor adventure training where there is currently very little. We're so grateful to the Trust for giving us the tools to make this dream a reality."

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