Share on        Get in touch · 01892 543150        Sign up to newsletter

Practice makes perfect

Week 8: Preparing for the Residential.

The residential is nearly upon us, this is the moment when we see the results of the last 7 weeks come together and see the mini troopers put their new skills to the test. In one week’s time, they will be setting out on their big adventure where they will be camping outdoors. From the moment they arrive they be responsible of setting up their living quarters to cooking their meals. For some being away from home is challenging enough, so throwing in the fact they will be doing everything for themselves will be testing for all of them. The day’s training session will give them an opportunity to to set up and become familiar with the equipment that they will be used on the residential next week.

The day was broken up into 3 sections: the care and packing of equipment, setting up their field shelters and introduction to ration packs and how to cook in the field before ending the day by building improvised stretchers using only the personal kit we carry.

Throughout this programme, we have had a pretty rough time with the weather and today was no exception. Whilst the mini troopers stood to attention on parade, the snow fell heavily around them. Without distraction, they listened in as we told them about the day’s training. With excitement all round and an excited troop, full of raised hands dying to ask questions about the residential, we formed two groups, before setting them off to lap the building and warm themselves up. It was smiles all round as they ran in the snow and the sound of laughter filled the air.

Cooking in the field.

I remember as a child, it was a nightmare trying to get me to try new foods, often judging them on just the packaging or the way it looked. For my parents, these were testing times so when we showed the ration packs to the mini troopers, and they were holding out what looks like space food, I could relate to the fear they showed when they said things like “ugh, I’ve got to eat that!” There was a mixture of reactions: CF who struggled to keep still with excitement, whilst DM had a look that I must have had, when I was forced to eat foods I didn’t like as a child.

As a group, we discussed the contents of the pack and how to ration it out to last them 24 hours. We spoke about the high calorie intake and how it’s needed to keep us fuelled up throughout our time in the field. With mixed reactions from the mini troopers, we tasted the different foods. The girls got stuck in and loved what they had tried. KA said the chilli tuna pasta was her favourite, while MM asked if he could just have three deserts! The twins fought it out over what food they thought was best, never failing to make me laugh.

Tasting the food

DM has made a lot of progress throughout the 7 weeks. It was a big step for him to go from bringing in his own lunch, to convincing him to bring in the same as everyone else – the packed lunch the school provides. I knew it was going to be a challenge to get him to try any of this food. His fellow mini troopers encouraged him but he clearly was struggling, although he tried to he just couldn’t do it. We continued on with the lesson, talking about the other foods and testing them out. Towards the end of the lesson DM came over to me and said his fork had fallen on the floor and could he wash it. So we washed it together and DM walked over to the cake and tried it. It was a tiny piece of cake but it was a HUGE step for him. Each week, I watch as he overcomes his fears of being outdoors and being out of his comfort zone.

Making beds military style

I wonder how many of you are out there wondering how on earth will my child manage to make up their bed, never mind actually build it and their shelter. Fear not, we have you covered. Today Sgt Bussell showed the mini troopers how to set up their living quarters. Then, working in pairs they put up their tents and put together their beds. There was friendly competition between the boys and the girls, as to who could put theirs up first. HB said the girls won of course. I set my tent up with SN because we are best friends. Always, with an excuse JA said that the girls had more pegs and that’s why they won! All the mini troopers set up their living quarters and showed us that they can do it correctly, working together and helping each other out to put their beds put together, they were able to finish the lesson with a few moments left to enjoy their new homes.

 Making improvised stretchers

After lunch, we headed back outside and the mini troopers listened as we talked about improvised stretchers. We talked about how out on residential, we might need to carry out a casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) exercise. (We don’t want to give too much away at this point but you will remember a few weeks ago we talked about their first aid training – as part of the residential we might simulate an accident as a training exercise and ask the mini troopers to evacuate a pretend casualty). So to prepare them for this, we laid out some of the equipment we will have with us such as backpacks, ponchos and waterproofs. We tasked them to work in groups of 4 and make a stretcher using only these objects. They came up with all sorts of ideas and through trial and error they came up with their own stretcher methods. Once happy with their chosen method, we challenged them to race around the building with a weight in their stretcher. Half way round one of the team’s stretchers came apart, which they found very frustrating. When all the teams were back, we discussed what we thought went wrong, before I demonstrated some ways they could make up their stretchers and we spent time practicing the new methods.

CASEVAC practice

MA is a natural leader and often takes control of group challenges; what was so fantastic to see today was that she asked her group if they had ideas to share, she listened and did not dive right in with telling them how she wanted it done.

Taking a quick breather

Everyone is really excited for next week’s residential and we ended the day handing out kit lists of what your child can bring along. If you need any information on this, please feel free to contact us on 01928 717800

Thank you for reading.

If you would like to read previous week’s blogs, please click HERE

If you would like more information on how our programmes support young people, please call us now 0845 548 5070 or click HERE


Share this article with others


Enjoyed this post?
Please sign up for updates directly to your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted: 4, March, 2016
by Challenger Troop

Sgt Bowen is a Team Instructor in our North West Team. Formerly a Corporal in the Army Recruitment Team, after she had served for over ten years in the British Army Royal Corps of Transport where she was deployed to Germany, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and the Falkland Islands. She is passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of the young people she works with.

Share with others


"Outdoor learning is giving them back their childhood wonder and curiosity at new things, allowing them to experience the marvel of discovery and the learning that comes from taking risks"

Contact us

If you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact us.

Full contact details

Where we are

Our head office is located in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Click on the link below to view the map.

Full contact details

Our Partners

We work in partnership with many organisations.

Go to our partners page