The section travelled to Pembrokeshire for a week of adventurous and military training.
Sunday: Rock Climbing, Abseiling and Kayaking
“There were three options of route which varied in difficulty to encourage all to at least try a climb, which they did. The climbing was a massive success with many reaching the top of at least one route. The abseiling required a fair amount of courage and trust: you had to step over the edge of a cliff with only a rope keeping you from falling. The view from the top was very impressive and abseiling itself was an exhilarating experience.
The kayaking was also a lot of fun. We played a collection of games that left everyone dripping with water or, if you were particularly unlucky, bobbing about in the lake. There's was plenty of enthusiasm and competition especially when we played a version of a kayak football. At the end we were allowed to jump off a 20ft ledge into the quarry below.”
Monday and Tuesday: 24 hour Military Exercise
“On arrival at the deployment zone, the Section was split into two so that the Year Nine (Basic) cadets could be trained in Camp-craft and Patrolling, whilst the Senior (Advanced) Cadets prepared for a nighttime ambush. Each group patrolled to their harbour area, set up their shelters, squared away kit and had a much needed lunch before further operations commenced for the seniors and training commenced for the basics.
The Advanced Cadets left to survey and report on enemy movements for the remainder of the afternoon whilst the Basic Cadets received training necessary on how to perform reconnaissance on enemy patrols. Once all sections had reported back, it was time for dinner and to prepare for the night ambush. After preparation had concluded (recce, briefing and rehearsals), the Advanced Cadets left to take up their positions. Late into the night the ambush was sprung with a constant volley of blank rifle fire as the enemy, the unsuspecting Year Nine cadets, passed into the ambush site. The ambush was a huge success and all cadets had an exhilarating experience. Once back at camp safe and secure, all cadets experienced a well-earned rest, despite several snoring cadets, before the following day's exercises and challenges.
After an early rise, training was over for both groups: it was time for a Platoon Attack for the Advanced and Section Attacks for the basics. After a morning of firing blanks and successfully assaulting enemy positions, all cadets were exhausted and thankful when they reached the coach that took them back to camp for some well earned rest and recuperation.”
Wednesday: Watersports and Leadership
“After inhaling a hearty full english breakfast and gathering all necessary equipment, everyone piled onto the coach for the journey to the quarry, which most people proceeded to fall asleep for the duration. Upon arriving at the quarry, we disembarked and received our brief from the instructors.
All the cadets were split into two groups: raft building and then raft racing, followed by speed boats and paddle boats. All the cadets got the chance to ride in the speed boats, where each cadet was given control of the boat for a short amount of time, which was immense fun. The paddle boat was sadly exclusively man-powered, so each cadet was armed with a paddle and in unison we propelled ourselves around the lake.
On the raft build the brief was deceptively simple: build a raft that was capable of holding all team members above water using only planks of wood, barrels and rope. We were taught an array of advanced knots to make our rafts as secure as possible and with this knowledge we were given 45 minutes to construct our raft. This exercise greatly boosted our teamworking and teambuilding skills as the youngest in each group was placed in charge and was issuing orders. Once the rafts were on the water’s edge, all cadets equipped themselves with a PFD (Personal Flotation Device), a hard hat and a paddle.
Now it was time for the race. The objective: get all crew members and all equipment around a buoy placed in the lake and return to shore first. However, when both teams had passed the buoy and started their return journey, sabotage was allowed; this made the objective exceedingly more difficult as all parts of the raft had to make it back to the shore for a team to win. This became more and more of a problem as each team franticly proceeded to dismantle the oppositions raft in order to delay them. The outcome of this however resulted in a huge amount of debris floating in the lake and a lot of happy but soaking cadets. All cadets improved their teamworking skills under pressure and everyone worked well together.
After another busy day, we still had the evening activity to go; this evening it was clay pigeon shooting. This was a more relaxed activity so everyone enjoyed it and there were a couple of cadets who were surprisingly good shots.”
“After a short walk to the range, our contingent was split into 5 details. The day was organised so that two details fired whilst the other three details manned the butts. The butts are man-powered mechanisms that raise and lower a frame which contains the targets; this allows the cadets to patch up the targets in between shoots.
We fired SA80 Cadet Rifles from the 100m and 200m firing points, however this range day wasn't just for fun: we were participating in a Marksman Shoot. This meant each Cadet went through different stages of shooting and each stage was marked and scored to see if we were good enough shots to earn the Marksman, 1st Class or 2nd Class badges. For the first shoot each Cadet fired a magazine of 20 rounds in four 5 round bursts for a small grouping. The next shoots consisted of 2 magazines with 5 rounds in each fired at the target so that when the target was hit it was lowered and then raised again with an indication of where you last hit. This shoot with 2 magazines of 5 rounds was then repeated at the 200m firing point.
When all cadets had completed their entire shoots, the instructors allowed us to fire the LSWs (Light Support Weapons) on automatic in three to four round bursts, this was much more fun and relaxed as it wasn't part of the shoot.
Many Marksman badges were issued to our cadets, including several of the younger cadets; many came close to achieving such a feat and received 1st Class badges.
Our final activity was archery in the evening. After a couple of practice shots, the instructor harnessed our competitive natures and we were split into groups to see which group could score the highest with a set number of arrows; obviously the winners made the most of their bragging rights before we headed back to camp for our last night.”
Somehow, the final morning had come. All the cadets had done something different from in their normal lives and had therefore developed themselves. After a thoroughly enjoyable week, the coach journey back was considerably quieter than on the way there, but moral was high.
We would like to thank the members of staff that accompanied us on this summer camp, as without them, experiences like this would simply not be possible.
By James Harris, Nicola Ralph and Rory Nelson