12 of our girls recently participated in a 3 day/2-night Army Challenge Weekend in partnership with Shared Outcomes and Lotus Life at Crowborough Training Camp. The first night consisted of debriefing and getting settled in. It was an opportunity for the girls from the different organisations to get to know each other. For many of it was also a reality check due to the basic amenities provided in the Army.

The next morning our day began bright and early at 6am with everyone vying to get into the showers before breakfast. We then headed to breakfast inside the Mess Hall which consisted of eggs, fried toast, tomatoes, beans, sausages, mushrooms, and cereal etc. Mealtime is very important in the Army to ensure you have sufficient energy for all the physical activities. We were then instructed to return to our accommodation and prepare to practice military marching drills. We headed over to an open field and the sergeant began instructing us on how to perform certain drills and how to march properly. When we were done doing the drills we walked back to our accommodation and began to prepare to pick up our kits, which consisted of our Army jacket and pants, a canteen for water, a metal tin for our food, sleeping bag, a mat, a waterproof cover for the sleeping bag, boots, a back pack/burgeon, a fleece jacket, and webbing where we would carry our canteen and metal tin. Needless to say, our kit was heavy, which left a few girls wondering how they were going to manage to stay on their feet with all their kit. After we received our kit, we were suited up and ready to begin our hike to our lunch and afternoon drill location. We had a container lunch that afternoon and were shown how to cook rations outside.

Once that demonstration was done, we were taught how to put camouflage on our faces and why the soldiers do that. Some of the girls put on way too much and had a fun time trying to remove it later. We then headed back down to the accommodation area and had dinner, then once more we put our things on and headed over to an outdoor location and participated in another drill. The drill consisted of having our dummy rifles and a partner out in the field, the soldier would shout “Contact Front” and we would act as if we were shooting at the enemy then drop to the ground and proceed to keep shooting and getting up when it was “safe” to do so then running and dropping to the ground repeatedly. Watching the pairs carry out the exercise left most of the group in stitches.

We were then taken to the area where we were going to camp for the night. Once we got there we set up camp to protect ourselves from the rain and went to sleep to wake up bright and early the next day. For many girls, this was the first-time camping and sleeping outside. Even though it was raining whole night, everyone managed to stay dry and warm.

Our group was awakened at 5:45am and after packing up and clearing our camp site we headed back to our accommodation to have breakfast and prepare for the next task. After breakfast, we headed down to the assault course to take on various obstacles. The assault course was a reminder for many that we needed to spend more time in the gym to build our upper body strength. Nevertheless, the girls encouraged and supported each other to challenge themselves and face their fears. And as expected most of the assault course obstacles were filmed and posted on social media for friends and family to see.

The weekend concluded with everyone having to hand back their kit which was thoroughly inspected by the soldiers. Any bit of food left in containers meant you had to give it another wash. This epitomised the weekend, namely, one of discipline, acceptable standards and taking responsibility. While the girls enjoyed themselves, they are also have a better understanding of what life is like in the military, the discipline and commitment required both physically and mentally.