A total of 264 Army Cadets and their instructors from across Oxfordshire came together at Swynerton Training Camp, Staffordshire for 2 weeks of fun, friendship and action at their annual camp (6th-18th August). The action started with 4 days out on the training ground putting into practice skills learnt at local detachments. This included a theoretical scenario based exercise in which a sudden and massive invasion of Western Europe by land and air had been launched. As a result the senior cadets were deployed to the front line to defend the training area, while the junior cadets were called upon to secure a suspected enemy position, known as “Emergency Government Head Quarters, Bunker 6.”
As part of the exercise the cadets cleared bunkers, slept out in the field under a basha, cooked rations from an army ration pack, and practised their navigation and ambush skills. Lending a feeling of reality to the exercise and creating a fast moving scenario, senior instructors communicated to the cadets on the ground via Skype and news updates on the “invasion” were broadcast.
During the second week of camp the cadets took part in a variety of adventure training activities including raft building, canoeing, paddle boarding, climbing wall, archery, cycling, range firing.
Corporal Megan Norwood has been a cadet for four years with the Donnington Bridge Detachment. Although originally she didn’t want to follow in her brother’s footsteps she now says that she loves being a cadet. She said “I became a cadet because I wanted a new challenge, with the ACF I have achieved my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and gained adult first aid qualifications. Camp gives us the opportunity to take in activities we don’t normally do and to take part in an exercise.”
Polly Davey lives in Goring and parades with the Wallingford Detachment. She said “Being a cadet gives you the chance to try new things and to get skills for life. At camp I have really enjoyed firing rifles on the ranges and the raft building challenge.”
Lance Corporal James Bennett, Kidlington Detachment was taking part in Annual Camp for the second time. James said “I have been a cadet for 2 years. Camp is a great experience, it is fun and you are always busy with a routine, we have to get up early and keep things clean and tidy.” James is hoping to take a painting and decorating apprenticeship, and at the same time build his fitness levels with the ambition of joining the Parachute Regiment.
Army Cadet Varisha Hussain who was experiencing Annual Camp for the first time said “Camp has been lots of fun so far and I have made lots of new friends. I have really enjoyed the bike riding today, the scenario training and sleeping out under a basha.
Varisha lives in Cowley and joined the Blackbirds Ley Detachment in October 2015, she said “I wanted to do something different. Cadets gives you lots to do and there is the chance to learn lots of new things.”
Based with the Shrivenham Detachment, Cadet Beth Leo has been a cadet for almost a year. She was encouraged to join by her brother who got a job because of the skills he had acquired through the ACF. She said “This is my first time at camp and I am having a great time. Cadets is a great way of learning new skills that aren’t taught at school.”
Sergeant Instructor Melissa Layden combines her Army Cadet instructor role with a busy life working as a healthcare assistant at a mental health unit. A former cadet, Melissa returned to the Blackbird Leys Detachment when she finished at university.
Melissa said “Becoming an instructor was a natural progression, particularly as my father was an instructor. The ACF is a brilliant environment, fun, gives you transferable skills, gets you out in the fresh air and gives your friends for life. I have met my two best friends and my partner through cadets.
For more information please visit https://armycadets.com/county/oxfordshire-acf/