Once in a lifetime adventure: Top cadets in Chile

Photos courtesy Regional Cadet Support Units (Pacific)

Photos courtesy Regional Cadet Support Units (Pacific)

Capt Peter Fuerbringer, RCSU(P) PAO ~

For Johnathan Dimalanta and Matthew Lozhkin, there are few words to describe the wide ranging vistas and diverse landscape of Chile.

Dimalanta and Lozhkin were among 18 army cadets from across Canada who travelled to  Chile in February as part of this year’s international expedition to the globe’s southernmost nation.

“I experienced sights that absolutely left me with a sense of awe,” said Dimalanta, a Vancouver-based cadet from 72 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.“I haven’t travelled too much in my life, but experiencing the culture and the terrain in Patagonia are experiences I won’t ever forget.”

The International Expedition departed Feb. 10 from the Vancouver International Airport with the group spending 13 days in the country, starting in Punta Arenas and working their way through some of the world’s most beautiful terrain in the Torres Del Paine national park.

Dimalanta and Lozhkin were among 18 of the most accomplished army cadets in Canada selected to make the voyage, along with Cadet Leaders Amelie Asboth (Ontario), Meghan MacNeil (Nova Scotia) and expedition leader Jeff Davis (British Columbia).

The journey included cultural experiences, challenging hikes, kayaking, and field craft. Every day in Chile brought with it its own set of challenges, unforgettable moments and personal rewards for each cadet.

“Chile definitely helped me define my path forward, what’s important to me and what isn’t — things like staying connected with people, nature, and the friends I made on this journey are certainly things that matter in life,” said Lozhkin, a B.C. cadet with 1867 Royal Canadian Cadet Corps in Delta.

While the expedition took them to some of the most famous places on earth for outdoor adventurers, including the peaks of Las Torres and the glacial waters of Lago Grey, it was the conversations and team building that left the lasting impression for Dimalanta.

“I loved the environment, meeting local people and the physical challenges, but if I am asked what I valued the most? It is definitely the other cadets that I got to know really well. This is such a unique experience, and how do you describe an experience to people who weren’t there. I really value these lifelong friendships.”

The expedition also involved mentorship training on how to become better stewards of the environment, leaders and communicators. Both Dimalanta and Lozhkin say they will continue to improve themselves in those areas now that they’re back in Canada.

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