AN EXHILARATING survival and team building course at RAF Marham in Norfolk was endured last weekend by 23 members of the ICE East Anglia graduate and student committee.
The endurance marathon was organised by Norfolk County Council highway engineer David Allfrey with help from the County of Norfolk Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force to test team behaviour and individual leadership in physically and mentally stressful situations.
Meeting for the first time on the Thursday morning, any members who already knew one another were quickly separated before teams were formed.
Team building exercises included energy sapping trailer pushes, mental initiative challenges, organisational tasks and leadership tests. Each task came as a surprise, forcing the teams to think on their feet and applying unrelenting pressure.
At the outset teams were given a food ration pack which was to last them the whole of the two days. But by 7pm, the young engineers were mentally and physically spent. They were looking forward to a relaxing evening with hot food in the comfort of their hostel, concentrating on team building in a more familiar environment - 'around the bar'.
But just as the teams had settled, a deafening bomb blast heralded a raid. Troops in full camouflage gear burst into the building, ordering the teams to grab their kit and leave their pints at once.
Survival techniques were then required to get through a cold, rainy night in the woods.
Sleepless hours of darkness ended abruptly with a 6am camp inspection and a further bout of physical and mental exercises.
Knowing that their exertions would finally be rewarded with fine barbecue, the fit-to-drop graduates could almost taste the singed and semi-cooked chicken legs. To their horror one final challenge lay before them, though - an assault course.
Despite little or no sleep and being put through several exhausting challenges, every member managed to negotiate the rigorous course to warm applause from friends, family, employers' and the local ICE East Anglia branch.
The graduates are expected take their experiences of teamworking, problem solving and coping with pressure back to the workplace, said Allfrey. He described their new skills as 'invaluable for a future in civil engineering'.