NEARLY three hundred AND fifty army cadets from Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Dumfries and Galloway, returned last month from their action-filled 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.
Colonel Kevin Connor, the Commandant of the West Lowland Battalion ACF said: “I gave a couple of directions about Annual Camp. Firstly, we must totally rethink camp as we were returning to the same location and need to expand the range of activities on offer compared to 2011.
“The other request was for all to enjoy Annual Camp, and we have a group of cadets who put in maximum effort to achieve, and enjoyed camp immensely.”
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 field-craft 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 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. Ask most cadets and their day there was the highlight of camp. Another activity on offer was the paint-ball range with an orienteering course on offer as a background activity.
Deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Pat O’Meara said: “At one time the Army Cadet Force provided mainly military training and was viewed by many as a recruiting organisation for the Army.
“We are very much a youth organisation and over the years, adventurous and challenging activities have taken a more prominent role. We continue to flourish using a mix of military and adventurous training and sport for the youth of our communities.”
Each year at Annual Camp, all companies from around the area compete for the huge Lucas Tooth Shield. 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.
Most evenings sporting events took place towards the Lucas Tooth. Tug of War has become a very popular event, and highly contested by both male and female teams. Come the end of Camp, B Company from eastern Renfrewshire claimed the Lucas Tooth Shield.
Major Alex McNamee the local area commander said: “We had 70 cadets from the western Renfrewshire and Bute area, 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 and 18 years of age to give the Army Cadet Force a try. You may find it is an organisation for you.”
It was not all work and activities. Each evening DVD’s were on show, discos and karaoke, even a ‘Cadets Got Talent’ competition. A golf competition was on one evening using golf clubs from the Early Learning Centre, which proved hilarious. Technology was on offer with a variety of games and sport on a Wii.
On the couple of days of Rest and Recreation the cadets visited Southport, with Annual Camp rounding of with a visit to Blackpool and its Pleasure Beach.