Academy tests its mettle during Fall Ex

Cadets of Robert Land Academy and guests march along the Niagara Parkway towards Queenston Heights with a replica cannon on day three of the exercise. Robert Land Academy photo

You may have seen them if you ventured out on the trails on the Niagara Escarpment this past week, staff and cadets of Robert Land Academy in Wellandport (Canada’s only military themed board school for student Gr. 5 – 12) along with members of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), cadets from two U.S. Military Academies and members of the New Mexico National Guard were participating in the RLA Fall Exercise also known as “Raid the Bruce.”

From Oct. 2 – 4/2018 the event took place over areas of the Niagara Escarpment including the Bruce Trail.

Over this three-day period the students hike approximately 70 km through various trails including Shorthills Park,
Rock Glen Conservation Area, Woodend Conservation Area and along the Niagara Parkway.

“The exercise, which covers a distance of approximately 70 km, is one of the Academy’s most important events because it is a physical and character building exercise that demonstrates to the students their ability to take on, and overcome, challenges; gives them a sense of being part of something larger than themselves; teaches the students they can rely on each other and is a nod to the military history of Niagara,” a press release from Robert Land Academy (RLA) said.

“Raid the Bruce is planned as a three-day, 70 km exercise so that it is of a magnitude that will give the boys authentic pride in accomplishment and create loyalty among sections and companies,” C Company (Grade 11 and 12 students) Commander and exercise organizer Capt. Brian Lee said in the release.

Along with the cadets of RLA, members of the Royal Military College of Canada joined in the march for the very first time.

Cadets and staff from Massanutton Military Academy in Virginia participating in day two of the exercise. Robert Land Academy photo

Cadets from Massanutton Military Academy in Virginia and from Oak Ridge Military Academy in North Carolina and five members of the New Mexico National Guard have been participating in this annual event for many years.

“We are very honoured these cadets and service men and women will march with us during The Fall Exercise,” said RLA Headmaster Maj. Kevin Wendling in the release.

He also noted “the partnerships RLA has developed with each of these organizations are significant and valuable to the school.”

“To be able to strengthen our partnerships and re-establish friendships during one of Robert Land Academy’s most important events is very gratifying,” he said.

“Partnerships with these groups include participation in RLA Annual Inspection and Graduation ceremonies, participation in events such as The Fall Exercise, training with RLA cadets and RLA’s participation in events at Massanutten and in New Mexico,” the release said.

The first day of the three-day exercise begins with a 32 km trek along the Bruce Trail. The students encounter a variety of terrain which tests them to reach down deep and to pull together as a team. This year was particularly difficult as the weather meant for some very muddy hills and trails that the students had to negotiate.

The second day they start from Woodend Conservation Area and trek to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first half of the 31 km journey on day two takes them through some of the trails, the last half has them trekking through wine country down the long roads to the Niagara Parkway. From there, they march the Parkway to Fort George where they spend the night as so many soldiers did during the Fort’s operations.

On day three, the students share in the pulling of the Academy’s replica cannon along the Niagara Parkway to Queenston Heights. They march in the footsteps of the British soldiers who marched from Fort George to Queenston Heights to do battle with the invading American forces during the War of 1812.

At the base of the monument to Gen Sir Isaac Brock who was felled during that battle, the successful students receive a Baker’s Badge which is presented “to each person who has completed the full exercise for the first time to recognize the physical and mental toughness required to Raid the Bruce.”

Members of RLA’s B Company negotiate trails in wine country on day two of the exercise. Robert Land Academy photo.


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