Recce Sqn with 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in Hinton, AB
By Capt P.E. Leonard
On the night 25 November 2010, 30 soldiers from Recce Sqn linked up with WO Darrell Peters, Operations WO for 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) AB/SK Detachment. They met at the Harvey Bldg to depart for a weekend of Basic Wilderness Survival Training roughly 150 km south of the border with the Northwest Territories in High Level, AB. Over the next 72 hours these soldiers from Recce Sqn were broken into teams of two, deprived of food, made to create their own improvised shelters, forage for their own food and water, and develop their own means of keeping the effects of cold at bay. For many of the soldiers (and perhaps one of the officers!) it was the first time they would practice these types of skills in a true wilderness setting.
Arriving early in the morning on 26 November, the Sqn linked up with another Strathcona working with 4 CRPG, WO Michael Gilliard, who quickly took us to our RV with the Rangers and introduced us to the team of Rangers who would be mentoring and guiding us through our activities. The day began with a series of lectures and demos that included how to trap and skin a variety of animals (rabbits, grouse and squirrel), what types of plants and roots you can eat, how to build an improvised shelter, and firecraft. From there, the Sqn was transported, in teams of two on the backs of snowmobiles, to a spot in the woods and left to our own devices (with the occasional visit by a Ranger to make sure we were still alive). Over the course of the next two nights, the soldiers demonstrated a high degree of proficiency in the construction of their shelters and the maintenance of the all important fire. Others would spend their night blissfully unaware of the pack of wolves circling their camp. Still others, despite their best efforts and employing the techniques taught by the Rangers, and often with significant mentoring from them, had no luck snaring a rabbit for a quick stew. Thankfully, the local high school basketball team took pity on us and, on the morning of 28 November, hosted the soldiers of Recce Sqn for a breakfast of pancakes and sausages. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
The lessons learned from this great weekend were many and the soldiers were all grateful for the opportunity to participate. Perseverance.