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RLA Welcomes US Military School Cadets and Soldiers at Annual Fall Exercise

Cadets and faculty from Robert Land Academy were joined by cadets from Massanutten Military Academy (Woodstock, Virginia) and soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard for the Academy’s Fall Exercise.  Conducted each year in Ontario’s Niagara Region, this year’s three day exercise took place from October 4 to 6, 2010.

In the early morning hours of the first day of the exercise, cadets were transported from Robert Land Academy’s main campus, located in Wellandport Ontario, to the start point at Kinsmen Park in Beamsville, Ontario.  From here individual groups consisting of six to 10 cadets and one to two staff started their journey, traveling by foot along sections of the Bruce Trail.  The Bruce Trail follows the Niagara Escarpment from Tobermory to Niagara Falls, Ontario and contains over 800 kilometers (500 miles) of main trains and 200 kilometers (125 miles) of side trails.    At the end of the first day’s travel, groups bivouacked at Camp Wetaskawin, located in the Short Hills Provincial Park on the outskirts of St. Catharines.  The highlight of the exercise for most though was the second night, where cadets and faculty were treated with the rare opportunity to spend the night in the soldiers’ barracks at historic Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  This fort was garrison to British soldiers in the War of 1812 and was eventually captured and burned to the ground by American soldiers during that conflict.  The fort has been carefully reconstructed and is maintained by Parks Canada as a National Historic Sight.  Stories of the barracks being haunted kept many of the cadets up late at night listening to every sound and watching for the ghost of Sir General Isaac Brock to come walking through the barrack block.   On the third and final day of the exercise approximately 150 cadets, faculty and soldiers moved together as a group walking the final stretch along the Niagara Parkway from Fort George.  With individual teams taking turns pulling the Academy’s 1812 era replica cannon, the group arrived at Queenston Heights in about three hours.  This final day of the exercise ended with a ceremony at the foot of Sir General Isaac Brock’s Monument.  Following a brief rest and some final instructions from Academy Sergeant Major Zahra, cadets and soldiers assembled in parade format for a ceremony to recognize those newest members of the Academy who earned their promotion from the rank of Recruit to Cadet.  In total, all participants covered approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) by foot.   Robert Land Academy’s Founder and Headmaster, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Bowman, commented “...that despite the cold and wet weather of the past three days, I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the exercise, and proud of every participant's hard work and determination to make it through these challenging three days.”  He also noted “We at the Academy are honoured to have been joined by such fine cadets and faculty from Massanutten Military Academy, as well as the upstanding soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard.”  Lieutenant Colonel Bowman also expressed his gratitude to General Jack Fox, Deputy Adjutant General, New Mexico National Guard, who accompanied his team of soldiers to Canada for this exercise.   Robert Land Academy is Canada’s only private, residential military school for boys in grades six through 12.  Located in Wellandport Ontario, approximately 45 minutes from Niagara Falls and the US border, the Academy utilizes a military model to reinforce the importance of structure, discipline, accountability and self-determination. The demanding intellectual and physical challenges are accompanied by support and encouragement to assist each student in developing self-confidence and self-worth through genuine achievement.  The highly structured environment at Robert Land Academy is intended to support and encourage boys to reach their potential.