Hayden joined Cadets in Year 8 and, at first, found it a bit intimidating. He had attended uniform groups before at Scouts (since he was 6) and really enjoyed that until he felt it was a bit too juvenile for him. He started Explorer Scouts but this followed the same agenda as Scouts. The Army Cadet Hut was next door to the Scout Hut, so he had seen the Cadets during their drill.
My son, Hayden King is now a Lance Corporal in Dorset Army Cadets (Sherborne Detachment).
Hayden really became hooked when he started attending camps. The sheer amount of activities was beyond anything he had encountered at Scouts. He did Mountain Biking, Paddle Boarding, Kayaking, Axe Throwing and Abseiling.
He spoke with pride when his group elected him as the best at abseiling to a senior Officer at the camp. He was elated at attaining the same shooting score as his Detachment Commander, a sniper. He goes on about having huge amounts of food at the camps, disproving popular opinion about Army food.
He started forging friendships with fellow Cadets and these are now his best friends (in Year 11). He undertook his Duke of Edinburgh (Bronze) and has almost completed his Silver Award (the expedition has been delayed). He completed the online Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) also run by the DofE. He attended the Regional Football trials and was selected to represent the South West Region. They went on to win the National Championships at Great Altcar camp near Liverpool. He has taken part in virtual sports activities via Strava during lockdown, cycling 300 miles in August and representing Dorset in the Cross Country running event and an inter region event in February.
From a personal perspective, he keeps his room tidy for a 15-year-old. He keeps his uniform and boots immaculate. He speaks to adults with more confidence than before and is fully engaged in continuous improvement (from attaining badges of rank and Star levels). He has enrolled on the CVQO qualifications alongside his forthcoming College course. His fitness has improved and he has been exposed to leadership scenarios that other 15-year-olds couldn’t comprehend.
His story, despite being hampered by the pandemic, is an excellent case study for attending the ACF. I wish more of his other friends would give it a go.