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Mallings Phoenix Explorers prepare for the gruelling Winter Survival... again!

13th February 2013

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It’s that horrible cold dark wet time of year again for the Counties intrepid Explorer Scouts to pit their wits, strength, skills, determination, teamwork and courage in Kent Scouts Winter survival.

The event has been running for over 40 years, testing the eldest sections of scouts to their physical and mental limits.  Around 30 - 40 teams enter the challenge annually from across the whole county.   Each year only 2 or 3 teams including the best navigators, strongest and without doubt the most determined complete it.  

This is a gruelling 40 plus miles, cross-country hike, traveling by day and night in freezing, wet weather conditions over the weekend 15 - 17 February.  Last year Phoenix Alpha 1 completed the event and its much junior development team completed all but 8 miles in -12°C conditions through the deep snow and ice covered Kent countryside.

After last year’s event both teams categorically stated “Never again”.

However twelve months on, and here they are, up for it again, true grit and determination.

None of the teams know where the start or finish is, until given the phone call early on the Friday evening.  After that it’s a kit check then keep walking to the finish... where ever that may be.

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The next check points are only given when teams arrive at them on time, so no one including those manning the check points actually knows the whole route.  It is simply a case of keep walking until you can physically go no further, or the conditions become overwhelming tough.

Teams are permitted a few hours break in the early hours of the Saturday morning.  To make things even tougher, no tents or sleeping bags allowed, only a big orange polythene survival bag to crawl into for a few hours.   Adding further difficulty to the teams is a searching enemy tracking them down and trying to disrupt the teams progress using additional physical challenges.    

Leaders, parents and family members know this is an extreme and tough event, everyone has everything crossed for them all to do as well as they possibly can.

Good luck to all of you.

Author: Dave Shillito

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