By Cpl Robinson, Construction Troop, 25 Cbt Sp Sqn, 2 CER
25 Cbt Sp Sqn of 2 CER, with a few pers from RHQ and 28 CSS Sqn, made their way to Thorne, Ontario for Ex NORTHERN BEAVER from 13-17 Feb 2012.
The intent of the Squadron Commander was to have a week long exercise which incorporated the Basic Winter Warfare course, but also exposed the Squadron to fun, challenging and interactive winter survival training. This exercise challenged the troops physically and mentally, but also allowed younger soldiers to develop their leadership skills as most of the Sqn’s junior pers were tasked as tent group commanders.
There were many activities during the exercise including a snow mobile course, ice fishing, dog sledding, snaring, and arctic tent routine. During the activity stands, there were plenty of opportunities to practice winter survival techniques such as ice fishing. Ice fishing was a good learning experience for all the troops as many had never fished before. The troops snow shoed from the Squadron bivouac site to Little McDougal Lake. Once there they were taught the proper way to set up fishing equipment and learned how to drill holes into the ice with an auger. We spent the morning on the lake fishing before moving on to Big McDougal Lake for dog sledding.
2 CER was very fortunate to have two experts to teach its sappers about dog sledding. They took the time to teach each soldier how to take care and maintain the fitness of the dogs. Once the orientation was complete the afternoon was spent dog sledding around the lake. This experience was very educational for all the troops involved.
The sappers spent a whole day learning how to build an improvised shelter created from materials found in the wilderness. All of the shelters were tested in the most effective way possible, by having all of the soldiers involved in their construction stay in them.
The most rewarding part of the training exercise was learning how to snare and prepare rabbits. The most skilled and experienced hunters in 25 Cbt Sp Sqn taught the troops everything there was to know about how to kill and prepare a rabbit in a survival situation. Once finished with the lesson, every tent group was given two live rabbits to prepare and eat.
The exercise as a whole was a great learning experience and the Sqn was able to build a strong foundation in basic winter field craft.