The ex­pe­di­tion of a life­time

Bay Roberts cadet kayaks, hikes, moun­tain climbs in Ar­gentina

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­

Tay­lor Hutch­ings of Shearstown, Con­cep­tion Bay may ra­di­ate con­fi­dence, but she is mod­est of her many achieve­ments.

The 17-year-old army cadet with squadron 2372 Avalon North doesn’t dis­play her dozens of plaques, medals and cer­tifi­cates for ev­ery­one to see; rather, each is neatly placed on one wall in her bed­room.

Most of her awards have come from six years in cadets, in­clud­ing the Lord Strath­cona Medal, the high­est award that can be be­stowed upon a Cana­dian cadet, which she re­ceived in 2012. It is placed at the top of the wall near the ceil­ing, sym­bol­iz­ing a pyramid of ac­com­plish­ment.

Tay­lor has also re­ceived awards for first aid com­pe­ti­tions, an­nual re­views, per­fect at­ten­dance and marks­man­ship, among oth­ers.

She shrugs when The Com­pass asks Feb. 12 about how many awards she has earned.

Tay­lor walks to her room and, with a hum­ble con­fi­dence, points to the wall. Her mom Bar­bara laughs.

“We call it her wall of shame,” Bar­bara smirks. “Be­cause of how many holes are in it.”

But the wall doesn’t hold all the awards. Not all of them come in a phys­i­cal form.

Ex­pe­di­tion de­ter­mi­na­tion

Al­though Tay­lor doesn’t brag about her awards, she did have plenty to say about her most re­cent ac­com­plish­ment: a trip to Ar­gentina on an in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­di­tion. She was the only New­found­lan­der out of 16 Cana­dian army cadets on the ad­ven­ture from Jan. 11-27.

The ex­pe­di­tion is spon­sored by the Army Cadet League of Canada and the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence. It is clas­si­fied as an “ac­tiv­ity chal­leng­ing the best army cadets in Canada to push their men­tal and phys­i­cal lim­its.”

Ev­ery­thing was fully funded, ex­cept her med­i­cal costs. The Bay Roberts Legion, Branch No. 32 do­nated the $1,000 for those costs, and she ex­plains how grate­ful she is for the help.

Dur­ing the ex­pe­di­tion, the teenagers kayaked, moun­tain climbed, na­ture hiked and scaled a glacier, but it was the lengthy jour­ney to get picked for the event that was quite dif­fi­cult, and de­serv­ing of recog­ni­tion.

“There are so many re­quire­ments, such as hav­ing to do a re­gional ex­pe­di­tion,” she ex­plains. “I did mine as a ‘sub-zero’ in Labrador.”

Other at­tributes that led to Tay­lor’s con­sid­er­a­tion in­cluded com­mu­nity ser­vice through­out her years with cadets, and corps in­volve­ment. In fact, she passed in a con­firmed 275 vol­un­teer hours last year for her high school com­mu­nity ser­vice re­quire­ment. The re­quire­ment is 30 hours.

There is also a strong fit­ness com­po­nent to the ex­pe­di­tion, which was judged dur­ing a stopover in Toronto on the way to Ar­gentina.

“There are bronze, sil­ver and gold fit­ness lev­els,” Tay­lor says, not­ing she achieved sil­ver dur­ing the test.

“It has been ev­ery mo­ment since I’ve been 12 years old that has been leading up to this ex­pe­di­tion,” Tay­lor ex­plains. “This is ba­si­cally the top thing you can do in the army cadets.”

What an ad­ven­ture

Af­ter land­ing in Be­unos Aires, Ar­gentina, the group trav­elled to Bar­iloche.

From there, she and her cadet mates be­gan a four-day kayak­ing jour­ney at Lake Mas­cardi.

They also went on some glacier scal­ing and moun­tain climb­ing at Mount Tron­ador, a moun­tain with a 3,491 me­tre el­e­va­tion. The glacier scal­ing was the scari­est for Tay­lor. “I found out I have a deathly fear of glaciers,” she says. “We were go­ing around a crevice field with rope teams. And you’re go­ing across this field, and this crack in the ground might only be a foot long. But you look down and it’s al­most a kilo­me­tre to the ground. You’re like, ‘I’m done, I’m not get­ting off this moun­tain.’”

Some bad weather forced the group off the Tron­ador, but the mem­bers did get to sum­mit an­other moun­tain — Mount Lopez.

“That was re­ally cool,” Tay­lor elates.

Sib­ling ri­valry

Tay­lor has a 15-year-old brother Joey, who is also in cadets. In fact, he may be one of her big­gest ri­vals.

“He was a lot shyer than I was (when he first signed up),” Tay­lor ex­plains. “He joined up, and the first thing he got into was band — glock­en­spiel.”

The glock­en­spiel was also Tay­lor’s spe­cialty. She earned the lead po­si­tion in her sec­ond year. That is how the ri­valry be­gan.

“So he got into band, and was like, ‘I’m go­ing to get this be­fore you did,’” she re­calls. “Half­way through his first year, he was on the lead. Me and him both had the lead glocks for the corps.”

Al­though that was the be­gin­ning, it ap­pears the two didn’t stop there.

They were both a mem­ber of ev­ery team on the corps, and con­tin­ued to push to outdo each other.

Right now, both sib­lings have some­thing the other doesn’t. Joey has a sil­ver medal in the cadet na­tional biathlon com­pe­ti­tion, while Tay­lor has the Lord Strath­cona and the in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­di­tion un­der her belt.

Joey still has the op­por­tu­nity to earn the two honours Tay­lor has, but she will never get a na­tional com­pe­ti­tion medal with cadets. She was sup­posed to com­pete at provin­cials this year to earn her spot, but it fell on a date she was in Ar­gentina.

This is the last year for the cadet na­tion­als be­cause of fund­ing cuts at the federal govern­ment level.

“He’s al­ways like, ‘ ha ha, I have a na­tional medal and you’ll never have one,” she laughs.

The two will also com­pete dur­ing the New­found­land and Labrador Win­ter Games next month in Clarenville in cross-coun­try ski­ing. They are the only two com­peti­tors from the Avalon.

But that ri­valry may not last much longer. Tay­lor will be go­ing to Me­mo­rial Univer­sity in St. John’s in the fall to study ge­ol­ogy, while Joey continues his in­volve­ment with cadets.

Pho­tos by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

The Hutch­ings fam­ily are very sup­port­ive of one an­other, but that doesn’t pre­vent ri­val­ries from blos­som­ing. Tay­lor (sec­ond from left) and brother Joey (far right) are huge cadet ri­vals, but mom Bar­bara (left) and dad Glen sup­port both their chil­dren with the pro­gram.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

The Hutch­ings fam­ily are very sup­port­ive of one an­other, but that doesn’t pre­vent ri­val­ries from blos­som­ing. Tay­lor (sec­ond from left) and brother Joey (far right) are huge cadet ri­vals, but mom Bar­bara (left) and dad Glen sup­port both their chil­dren with the pro­gram.

Tay­lor (left) made some good friends on the ex­pe­di­tion, in­clud­ing Carissa Roy (cen­tre) from On­tario and Yel­low Martin from Nova Sco­tia. Yel­low will be at­tend­ing Me­mo­rial Un­ver­sity in St. John’s with Tay­lor this fall.

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