Cadets rise to the challenge at annual camp

Nearly 350 army cadets from Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Dumfries and Galloway, returned last month from their action-filled annual camp.

fortnight’s camp at Altcar Training Camp between Southport and Liverpool. They used the same location as 2011 but the emphasis on activities this year was vastly changed.

All cadets were given the opportunity to take part in a variety of military skills, adventurous and challenging activities and sport during their fortnight at Altcar Training Camp, which lies between Southport and Liverpool.

Although the cadets had used Altcar last year, the programme for 2012 different significantly with an expanded range of activities on offer.

Deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Pat O’Meara explained: “At one time the Army Cadet Force provided mainly military training and was viewed by many as a recruiting organisation for the Army. But we are very much a youth organisation and over the years, adventurous & challenging activities have taken a more prominent role.

“We continue to flourish using a mix of military & adventurous training and sport for the youth of our communities.”

Colonel Kevin Connor, Commandant of the West Lowland Battalion ACF, had instructed his troops simply to have fun. “We have a group of cadets who put in maximum effort to achieve, and enjoy camp immensely,” he said.

The military training at Annual Camp consisted of target shooting with a variety of weapons including senior cadets using the outdoor ranges that Altcar offer - probably second only to Bisley Ranges for marksmanship.

The younger cadets used the indoor .22 range, as well as a Dismounted Close Combat Trainer, a huge life-size computer generated shooting gallery.

There was a fieldcraft package where the cadets learn to live in the field for up to 48 hours, depending on their skills level. As expected, cadets had their turn on the drill square, which many will remember as ‘square bashing’, but it appears to no longer be a punishment as many cadets enjoy it. Skill at Arms, learning to handle a variety of weapons safely, first aid, another core military skill, as well as navigation, filled up the military training part.

Adventurous and challenging pursuits, including paintball and orienteering, were particularly enjoyed by the cadets. This year all spent a day at the nearby Corsbie Lake where they built rafts and spent the day on the water - a highlight for most.

Each year at Annual Camp, all companies from around the area compete for the huge. As well as orienteering, shooting, archery, drill and turnout competition throughout camp, a billet competition is run. Have you ever entered a teenager’s room? Could you imagine a room with 20 in it? Surprisingly cadets can keep a room clean and tidy, so for all the mothers out there, your youngster is more than capable.

The cadets also had the opportunity to compete for the prestigious Lucas Tooth Shield in evenings sporting events. Tug of War was very popular and highly contested by both male & female teams. Come the end of Camp, B Company from eastern Renfrewshire claimed the shield.

But it was not all work and activities. Each evening DVD’s were on show, plus a variety of games and sport via Wii, discos, karaoke, and even a ‘Cadets Got Talent’ competition, were all on offer. On the couple of days of Rest and Recreation the cadets also visited Southport, with Annual Camp rounding of with a visit to Blackpool and its Pleasure Beach.

Major Kevin Wallace, the local area commander said; “We had 70 cadets from the southern half of Ayrshire, all putting in a great effort and thoroughly enjoying camp. I am very proud of them, many leaving Camp with certificates and awards.

“I would say to any youngster between 12 & 18 years of age to give the Army Cadet Force a try. You may find it is an organisation for you.”

To find out more about joining the West Lowland Battalion ACF visit their website.