Wednesday, October 5, 2011 – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! After three long days, the cadets of Canada’s only private military school have covered nearly 90 kilometres of the Niagara Region, arriving at Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights just past 11 am today.
Early Monday morning, groups of cadets departed Robert Land Academy. Those who have completed this exercise in previous years knew what lay ahead. For new students however, the prospect of what was to come brought excitement, anticipation and a little trepidation.
At 9 am this moring cadets and facutly of Robert Land Academy departed through the gates of historic Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on their way to completing the final 13 kilometers of their journey which started two days prior. Accompanying them were cadets from Massannutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia, and five soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard. It was a beautiful sunny Fall day as participants made their way along the picturesque Niagara Parkway, which parallels the Niagara River from Fort George to Queenston Heights. On route, groups of cadets and soldiers were eager to take their turn pulling Robert Land Academy’s 1812 replica cannon along sections of the trail.
Resting briefly at the base of the Niagara Escarpment just below Queenston Heights, it took tremendous hard work and determination to muscle the cannon along the slippery trail to the top of the heights. When the cannon was finally in position, a ceremonial salute was offered as the canon was fired, signalling the start of the solomn ceremony at the base of Brock’s Monument. For new recruits who joined the Academy early in September, this day marked their first opportunity for promotion to the rank of Cadet.
After a few days the blisters and sore feet will be gone, however the memories – and the bragging rights - will be with the cadets of Robert Land Academy for a lifetime. For most, the bonds that cadets formed with one another during these three days run deep and strong. This is also one of those life experiences where most cadets come to realize that with the right amount of planning, training, hard work, and a positive attitude, even the most monumental of tasks can be accomplished.
As the cadets rest in their beds this evening, glad that its over, I’m certain that some are already looking forward to next year’s annual Fall Exercise.