The expedition of a lifetime for Taylor Hutchings

Melissa Jenkins
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Bay Roberts cadet kayaks, hikes, mountain climbs in Argentina

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

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.

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.

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

 

 

About Taylor Hutchings:

° Full name - Taylor Lynn Hutchings;

° Birthdate - May 28, 1996;

° Hometown - Shearstown, Conception Bay; Also lived in High Level, Alberta for 10 years;

° School - Level III at Ascension Collegiate;

° Ambition - study geology at Memorial University;

° Family - dad Glen, mom Barbara and brother Joey;

° Cadet squadron and rank - 2372 Avalon North army cadets, Chief Warrant Officer;

° Favourite cadet program - marksmanship;

° Most significant awards - although her award count is plenty, Taylor has achieved some significant successes throughout cadets, including winning public speaking competitions, she is the senior environmental cadet - army, second and third place finishes in marksmanship competitions, silver Duke of Edinburgh award, top NCO, Lord Strathcona medal, most dedicated band member and many perfect attendance awards; she is also the recipient of "civilian" awards in baseball, cross-country skiing and biathlon;

° Interesting facts about Taylor - she has a collection of dolls in unopened packages from when she was a baby; one wall of her bedroom is covered in cadet awards and plaques; she recently learned she has a fear of climbing glaciers; her mom encouraged her participation in cadets, but she didn't want to at first; Taylor was bullied growing up; she played the Glockenspiel from her first year in cadets; she competes in biathlons - shooting and skiing; she met her best friend, who is from Bell Island, through cadets and always competed against her, but that didn't affect their friendship; before Taylor was two, she could speak in complete sentences; Taylor could have skipped a grade, but instead, helped mentor a child in her class with down syndrome.

Organizations: The Compass, Taylor's, Army Cadet League of Canada Department of National Defence Avalon North army

Geographic location: Argentina, Bay Roberts, Avalon North Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Toronto Beunos Aires Lake Mascardi Clarenville Conception Bay Alberta Bell Island

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