19 August 2020

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

2 Company CSM Bland is setting his cadets a series of weekly competitive challenges to keep them engaged and enthusiastic about army cadet activities. These practical challenges involve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and are intended to be fun and above all, keep cadets involved.

The significance of ensuring their cadets are kept busy and active, continue to learn, and retain a sense of pride in being cadets was well recognised by 2 Coy Training Officer Lt Blundell and her colleagues. CSM Bland was chosen to present and judge the competition, as he was considered to be the ideal role model. Further help came from SI Bowen, who has put in many hours of work using social media to promote the competition, including regularly updating detachment Facebook pages with details and results, and setting up of a 2 Coy Twitter account to help reach out to current and prospective cadets.

The first challenge was to create an Observation Post (OP). This competition was won by two Longstanton Cadets, Corporals Owen Parker and Josh Parker. Owen Parker described the building of the OP; ‘We had dug a 5 ft hole, and knew we had a lot of useful things available, such as a basha and a camouflage net. We watched an army video showing OPs and got a few ideas from this. We collected twigs and foliage and used them to help camouflage the OP.’ The cadets were determined to make the OP as authentic as possible. Josh said; ‘we placed kit inside the OP such as binoculars, MRE (ration packs) and shemaghs’. (a scarf type wrap which can be worn around the face for camouflage). So impressive was the result that 2 Coy OC Major Annis commented; ‘amazing effort, this is beyond anything we thought we might see.’

Both cadets were delighted to be the first week’s winners of the challenge, with Owen saying ‘we were amazed, really overjoyed- to be up against all the 2 Coy detachments, to win was a proud moment. We are a new to 2 Coy, and we got the chance to show we know our stuff.’

The Second challenge was to build a compass, which was won by LCpl Lara Guiet of Chesterton Detachment. LCpl Guiet constructed a homemade compass which rotated on an apple, which the CSM declared to be the winner as she was ‘thinking outside the box’. LCpl Guiet said; ‘The CSM said we thought outside the box because we used the apple to make the compass and not many people would think of this. We made the compass with some straw and one magnet on one side and a paper on the other, a needle in the middle of the straw and a rubber. Then we attached the compass to the apple so it had support, and stayed stabilised better than with the hand. We tried to make something creative as well as something that works. I really liked doing this, as we can be creative and do this with other members of the family, have fun and sometimes actually learn or revise skills. It's really something nice to do, and I encourage anyone to try it.’

CSM Bland additionally asked cadets to post on their detachment pages photos of their VJ Day celebrations- a subject especially personal to him as 3 of his uncles served with The Border Regiment in Burma.

The current challenge is a fieldcraft exercise to demonstrate ‘Why Things are Seen’. The challenges are planned to continue into next year, with details depending on whether or not virus restrictions are lifted, but potentially including inter-detachment challenges, incorporating company weekends, with a trophy awarded to the best detachment.

Lt Kate Blundell, 2 Company Training Officer, said 'We aim to bring some competition and engagement to the cadets, helping with retention and ‘keeping the flame alive’. Not everything has to be a lesson - there is a bigger picture in development during these challenging times, and we are aiming to offer a fun distraction and feeling of being part of something great. 2 Company is a family, and we are committed to each other.'

Text by PI Stuart, County P.R.O.