‘Don’t step on the skink’: returning to CFB Shilo

Posted on April 24, 2012

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Daniella after a very dusty ride in the MSVS

“Anything inside the red lines is a danger area.”

But everything is inside the red lines. CFB Shilo is mapped out in front of me while sitting in the mess tent. After having a welcoming dinner of steak, potatoes, and vegetables, I’m  getting debriefed on the environmental dangers of the base. I find out what’s worse than stepping on old dud ammunition, is stepping on an endangered prairie skink.

That was taken from an article I wrote about my first impressions of being at CFB Shilo as an embedded journalist, exactly one year ago. If you’ve read my story, you’ll know I wasn’t scared off that easily – and no, I never stepped on a skink.

This year I’m returning to CFB Shilo for EX BISON WARRIOR as an embed and mentoring journalist to a new crop of first years. The group will be smaller, but the challenge is the same: go out in the field and get stories.

Thinking back to EX WESTERN DEFENDER last year and where the experience has led me, I’m surprised that I’m excited about the lack-of-sleep and steady diet of rations. What helps? The great team I always have when working with the military.

On last year’s trip I not only learned a lot about my colleagues – and even saved one’s wet shoes with a maxi pad – but I also learned a lot about myself.

Like the fact that eating rations doesn’t bother me (my favourite is Hawaiian chicken) and I’m totally able to fall asleep in a C-Can, standing up, because there are rodent droppings covering the floor. Yes, I still had a good time, as you can tell by  my tired wind-burned face in the video below. Note: my name is not Donna Ponicelli.

Until then, I never really understood the business of army, and I probably never will, but sharing the stories of the people in our Canadian Forces has certainly allowed me a better perspective.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone out in the field soon, and can’t wait to hear the first impressions from this year’s group.

To see more from Daniella’s time in Shilo, check out Related Work.

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