Tanks for memories
A Bay Roberts cadet finds an exchange visit to Germany very educational.
When Kelsey Barrett got behind the controls of a tank in Germany, she knew it wasn’t your average summer vacation.
In fact, the Bay Roberts army cadet was one of 22 cadets from across Canada chosen to participate in a German exchange program.
Cadets were chosen to take part in exchanges with countries including Germany, Australia, Norway and Scotland. Barrett was one of four female cadets chosen for the program.
Step one was basic training and a fitness test to make sure she was capable of taking part in the training in Germany.
“ When we got to Germany, we just toured around a lot and we had to do another fitness test up there, a German one,” she said. “ That was a lot harder than the Canadian one.”
Barrett, 16, said the German fit- ness test included a shot put, swimming 300 metres within a certain time, long jump and high jump, and a 25-metre sprint.
Barrett’s tour in Germany included visiting the German parliament and military training sites, including a tank training site.
“ We had the option there to go in the tanks and drive around and shoot them,” she said. “It was amazing. They’re really small on the inside, and really loud. I loved it. It was nothing like I ever done before.”
Barrett spent three weeks in Germany, visiting various places of interest - and constantly keeping up with her training, including a twohour run.
“ We weren’t allowed to stop running at all. You weren’t allowed to walk. You had to be continuously running, and it was in a thunder and lightning storm,” she said, adding that it was hard, but she still managed to finish. “After the first hour your body kinda goes numb and can’t feel it anymore.”
And there wasn’t any rest for the weary, either; the day after the twohour run, cadets had a mountain march scheduled.
Germany was Barrett’s first choice for the exchange, she said, simply because she thought it would be an interesting place to visit.
“I know about all the wars and everything that went on up there, so there had to be a lot of things that happened there - there had to be a lot of different army training,” she said. “I just figured that it would be the most enjoyable place to go. Australia is mostly touring, and I know that Scotland is mostly army, like they do everything army-related, so I knew that Germany you get a bit of both worlds.”
And while Barrett already knew her history, she still learned a lot about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, some of which came to the former German leader’s command centre the Eagle’s Nest.
Barrett said the trip helped give her a broader understanding of what the military is all about, and she learned how Germany’s military history has affected the way Germans look at the military today.
“ They’re not allowed to have cadets over there because they’re afraid of - Hitler had these youth groups,” she said. “So they’re afraid if they have cadets it will be something like that again. So they’re not allowed to have cadets there.”
But the trip wasn’t all history and gruelling marathons; Sundays were family day, says Barrett, and that’s when she’d visit a local family for a home-cooked meal.
She learned a little German and met a lot of people, Barrett said. She also went to her fellow German students’ last day of school. “ They had a big carnival, and we went there and we got to meet some of their friends at school. So that was fun,” she said.
Barrett said she isn’t sure if her membership in cadets will eventually transfer into a military career, but she is enjoying the experiences she’s had so far with Bay Roberts 2372 Army Cadets.
“I have no idea if army’s the way I want to go in the future,” she said, “ but it’s definitely a possibility. It’s something I really enjoy, and I get a lot from the experiences that I do and the places that I go with it. It’s definitely a possibility for the future.”
Bay Roberts cadet Kelsey Barrett says she learned a lot on a recent exchange trip to Germany.