Annual Camp 2023

Annual Camp 2023 daily round up

Annual Camp 2023

20 August 2023

  • Sussex ACF

Day 1

Cadets boarded the coaches from the pick up points across the county, and arrived at camp where an advance party of Cadet Force Adult Volunteers were waiting for them, each cadet was checked off and assigned a room and their cadre. Booking in completed the cadets then picked up their kit and carried it to their rooms, finding a bedspace and started unpacking.

Bed's sorted and kit squared away the cadets then made their way to the cadre offices where they were given a quick opening briefing and then started the admin that happens at the start of camp, nominal roles were checked, any kit they needed was noted down and some issued with the rest to follow later. Cadet ADS (Assistant Directing Staff) took charge, tours of camp and additional checks taking place before making their way to the cookhouse for evening meal.

After dinner the cadet ADS watched the cadets whilst Sussex ACF Commandant Colonel Morris, deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Earley and Adult Regimental Sergeant Major Bartlett gave their opening addresses to the staff, Colonel Morris thanked the staff for giving up their own time to make camp happen and gave a quick update on the number of cadets in the county, 1022 cadets are on the books with Sussex, the first time we have been over a 1000. He then handed to over to Lt Colonel Earley who briefed the staff on camp, training and various events going on throughout camp. The RSM then gave a brief update on standards and behaviour before the adults were dismissed.

All of the cadets were called to the gym on camp to see a safety video ahead of a potential Chinook visit and flight later in camp. Afterwards they were returned to their cadres and carried on preparing for the camp ahead. Training was brought to a halt just after 8pm and the cadets got their first chance to visit the NAAFI this camp, Lights out was at 2230 to ensure the cadets were well rested ahead of Day 2 of camp.

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    Cadet kneeling in the field

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    Heading out on patrol

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    Cadet laying prone in the field

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    Advance to contact

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    Hidden in the long grass

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    Fire and movement

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    Pairs fire and movement

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    Evening meal excitement

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Day 2

Cadets and Adults were up at 0630 to prepare for the day ahead before breakfast at 0700. Training began at 8am, more kit issuing, and a chance to make sure rooms were ready for inspection before the 1 Star ACS cadre headed to the drill square for the morning. Both the 2 Star cadres completed kit packing and checks ahead of their field exercises later this week. At 1015 there was a fire drill, which has to be completed within 24 hours of arriving at camp. Nominal roles checked the cadets who wanted to cheer on the Lionesses in the Women's World Cup final made their way to the gym where a screen and speakers were set up. Joining in with the National Anthem and then settling in to watch the match.

Final over and the cadets had lunch before resuming training. the 1 Star cadre stayed in camp with CFAV's and Cadet ADS delivering lessons around what to pack in the field, hand signals, movement with and without rifles and basic admin in the field. Both 2 Star cadres headed into the training area to refresh their skills in camouflage and concealment, observation, harbour routine, sentry positions, patrolling and contact drills.

After evening meal each cadre finished their day's training, the 1 Star cadre doing a refresher of the afternoon's fieldcraft before some fun sports. The cadets then get a bit of downtime before lights out at 2200.

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    Smiling Signaller

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    Listening to briefing

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    Out in the field

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    Out in the field

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    Smiling during the briefing

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    Deploying into the area

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    Smiling cadets

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    In the field

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    Csgt Gibson

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    Listening intently

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    In the prone

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    RSM's looking on

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    Rifle drill

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    Fieldcraft is fun

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    Rifle drill

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Day 3

Training really kicked in this morning. The 1 Star ACS Cadre were on final kit checks and room inspections before they deployed into the training area for their 24hr exercise. For some it is their first experience of sleeping out in the field, eating rations and operating as part of a section. Practical lessons in camouflage, basha building and why things are seen before then patrolling and practising moving stealthily before having their first taste of a 24hr ration pack, doing some more training and then setting up bashas and sleeping out under them.

2 Star APC started the day on the drill square being inspected by both the adult and cadet RSM's as part of the lines trophy. a competition running through out camp for the best cadre, inspecting turnout of the cadets and inspections of the rooms and areas around them. They then moved onto to Rifle drill, learning movements as part of a group, breaking into pairs to practice and then returning to the group to practice again. They then went out onto the training area and carried on with fieldcraft practice all afternoon and evening.

"The cadets have set the bar really high for the other cadres." Adult RSM Bartlett said afterwards

2 Star ACS cleared their rooms and then under the adult instructors carried out one final kit check before boarding the minibuses and going out to the training area and starting their field exercise. Cadet RSM Boundy gave the opening briefing, explaining the scenario and the first phase of the exercise before each section practiced their part of the first phase, patrolling to and then occupying a harbour area, carrying out patrols in the evening and then sleeping out under basha's for the first of two nights in the field.

Signals Platoon woke up under their basha's in the field for the first time and started setting up the radios and equipment they use during each field exercise, they run 0 (Zero) which controls the radio net and records all communications on the area as well as provide cadet signallers to each platoon or section whilst the cadres are in the field, signals platoon cadets who aren't being used get to play the enemy force during the exercise.

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Day 4

The 1 Star ACS cadets woke up in the field, for some cadets it was their first experience sleeping out under Basha's, they packed away their kit and then had ration pack breakfast, for some that was muesli, for some it was sausage and beans depending on the ration pack they had been given. After that they broke harbour and ended their exercise ahead of a planned visit to camp by a Chinook from RAF Odiham.

The 2 Star APC cadre carried on their fieldcraft training ahead of the exercise they deploy on on day 5, they also paused training for the Chinook visit.

2 Star ACS woke up in the field and took their stand to positions before waiting for a possible attack by the enemy force. They paused their exercise and returned to camp with the signals platoon and all cadets gathered near the helicopter landing site by camp.

With the first two chalks of fifteen lined up ready to go in helmets, eye and ear protection and with anticipation building the distinctive sound of a Chinook started rumbling down the valley towards everyone. Moments later and to cheers that almost drowned out the noise of the twin rotors the Chinook appeared just above tree level and did a check of the landing area before touching down and the rear ramp opening. The loadmaster had a quick chat with Major Boyden (The officer who arranged the visit and was landing zone commander.) then the first cadets and adult instructors carefully made their way over and boarded the aircraft. Each group had one extremely lucky cadets who got to fly in the jump seat between the two pilots and see the flight out of the cockpit windows.

Approximately ten minutes, (What felt like no time at all for those on the flight and forever for those waiting) flight time and the Chinook once again flew in low and landed, the first group emerging with huge grins made their way to the next group where they exchanged protective equipment and prepared to board the Chinook. To get everyone through there was a maximum of three minutes for cadets to leave the aircraft, hand equipment over and the next group to be ready and board.

Two hours later and a couple of hundred cadets who could not stop smiling and telling everyone how AMAZING (Corporal Hall saying that word 8 times in forty seconds) it had been and the last group took to the air with Commandant Colonel Morris in the jump seat. With a flight over the Ashdown forest and back round into camp the grins from everyone aboard told the story of an incredible experience. The Chinook touched down for the last time to find the county formed up for the photograph of a lifetime, Colonel Morris quickly presented the pilot with a Sussex ACF Plaque as a gesture of thank.

Captain Bourne and Captain Shepherd holding the tripod and camera steady so it didn't get blown over, the PRO running from the rear of the Chinook to get into position with a second camera and Deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Earley ready to capture the moment on video the Chinook took the skies and circled round to hover behind the cadets to get a truly amazing county photograph. The cadets turned and waved as the Chinook departed.

After lunch the cadets resumed training, Signals and 2 Star ACS back out on the training area on exercise, the one star cadre learning post exercise routine, cleaning kit, disposing on rubbish and getting ready for a relaxed evening of sports and BBQ, the 2 Star APC cadets continued fieldcraft training before being given a rousing pre exercise speech by Major Boyden.

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Day 5

1 Star ACS had a fun day, split down into four groups, two groups going mountain biking and playing archery tag, swapping over activity at lunchtime, the other two groups doing a paintball alley or air rifle shooting before swapping over. During the paintball one cadet announced it was his birthday and all present sang Happy Birthday just before the cadet patrolled down paintball alley and fired at the targets that popped up. The groups will swap over on day 6 so that everyone gets a go at all the activities.

2 Star APC carried out a final set of fieldcraft practice and then prepared to deploy into the field for their exercise. Arriving on the ground and swiftly applying cam cream and ensuring they were ready for the two nights they would be in the field before patrolling to the start point and receiving a briefing on safety on the area. Once completed they set about establishing a safe forming up point before Major Boyden gave them their first briefing and the cadets started patrolling. As the light faded the cadets were able to use the night vision equipment that we have been able to borrow for camp before going to sleep.

2 Star ACS carried out their final attacks in the field, finished their exercise and returned to camp to clean weapons and do the return to camp admin that is vital after an exercise. With weapons clean and returned to the armoury the cadets then had a BBQ in the evening to close off the exercise phase.

We also had Comd H C Lieutenant General Cave and two members of his team visit us at camp, they were met by Colonel Morris and introduced to several members of county HQ before Lieutenant Colonel Earley gave a presentation about camp, the opportunities our cadets have and the county itself. Afterwards the visitors were taken out into the training area where the 2 star ACS cadets put on a demonstration of a section attack under Cadet Colour Sergeant Gibson. The cadets patrolled towards a suspect enemy position when they fired upon and demonstrated reaction to fire, fire and movement drills and withdrew in fireteams to a safe location. Once complete the cadets formed a semi circle and LT Gen Cave chatted to the cadets, asking what the cadets had been doing what the highlight of camp so far was. "The chinook flight." was the response almost as one voice.

During the visit to the field Colonel Morris asked Lieutenant General Cave to make three special presentations. The first to Colour Sergeant Stokes, who received his cadet forces medal for 12 years service. Colour Sergeant Stokes said "Wow, is it already 12 years, it's flown by." Cadet RSM Boundy was promoted to Cadet Under Officer, the highest rank a cadet can achieve. Cadet Under Officer Boundy then thanked everyone present and also thanked everyone who has helped him get to this point. His promotion left the Cadet RSM position open and the final presentation was to promote Cadet Sergeant Major Thurston to Cadet RSM, she also thanked everyone who had helped her in her cadet career and said how much cadets had helped her with the future career plans. When asked later what her thoughts on the promotion were "Yeah it's nice." before adding that she was proud to have got so far in the five years she had been a cadet.

After the 2 Star ACS BBQ there were two more promotions, Cadet Colour Sergeant Gibson was promoted to A Company Cadet CSM and Sergeant instructor Underdown was promoted to Colour Sergeant.

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Day 6

The 1 Star ACS cadre swapped activities from day 5. It was the last full day the cadets had on camp before departing on day 7. Air rifle shooting, Paintball, Archery and Mountain biking to end camp. After evening meal the cadets packed kit and then had their final Naafi trip, a chance to play pool and table tennis and burn off any left over energy.

2 Star ACS started the day on the drill square before moving on navigation lessons. Covering everything they have learnt about navigation ahead of a an upcoming navigation exercise the cadets had to dodge heavy downpours between lessons. They ended the afternoon with sports before having a presentation from the army outreach team.

2 Star APC woke up in the field, had a ration pack breakfast and then received their first briefing of the day from Major Boyden. They spent the morning covering reaction to enemy fire, pairs fire and movement, section fire and movement and using cover. They were lucky enough to have two regular forces personnel come in and assist with the lessons. The Padre visited the cadets and gave a short service in the field and joined in by applying cam cream and even followed the cadets on one the battle exercises in the afternoon. To test what the cadets had learnt in the morning they patrolled in their sections into a battle exercise. Each group running through the same scenario with cadets in leadership roles and adult instructors ensuring safety.

The scenario was a patrol to look for the enemy, they were briefed that the enemy were believed to have eyes on a key bridge and were planning to ambush anyone using the bridge. Each patrol advanced along a track towards the bridge before the enemy force opened fire from across a stream. Each group returned fire and with one half of the section covering the other half took cover on the stream bank before covering the first half. Fire positions established the section commanders carried out a quick assessment before advancing towards the enemy and then withdrawing as they had been taught.

The evening was spent learning about observation positions before their second night out in the field.

Day 7

The 1 Star ACS Cadre enjoyed their last breakfast at camp before returning all kit issued at camp and then cleared their rooms and the areas around them. They had a final parade with awards and prizes before boarding the minibuses and returning home.

2 Star APC and the Italian cadets that have joined us as part of the exchange program woke up in the field, ate breakfast and then carried out extensive rehearsals ahead of their final attack. The final attack put into practice all the skills they have been learning throughout the exercise. To add to the pressure Sussex ACF's Honorary Colonel Brigadier Rolland was visiting camp and had come to witness the cadets in action. The cadets moved fast and engaged with the enemy, overrunning defensive positions using fire and movement. Attacks completed the cadets had time for a chat with Brigadier Rolland before loading kit and returning to camp for post exercise admin.

2 Star ACS alternated between Navigation and Rifle Drill. The navigation was a practical assessment out on the Ashdown forest. The rifle drill was taught by the ADS and then after lunch Brigadier Rolland joined them to see the cadets in action.

Day 8

The 2 Star APC Cadre were up and out of camp by 8am to spend the day at an outdoor activity centre, taking on high rope and low rope courses and trying paddleboarding as part of the adventurous training package for the cadets this year. Returning to camp in time for evening meal the cadets then carried out admin before their Naafi time.

2 Star ACS split into two groups, one taking on the obstacle course and the other group doing a practical navigation exercise. They swapped over at lunch so that both groups carried out both activities. After evening meal a small group headed to the range to carry out their 1 Star shoot and the rest carried on training.

1 Star APC cadets arrived in the afternoon and the start of camp admin soon began, getting kit to their rooms, allocating sections and making sure all the cadets had got everything they needed before a tour of camp and then a briefing on behaviour and standards from the CEO.

Day 9

1 Star APC split into groups to complete training ahead of their upcoming exercise, splitting down to go on the range, carry out skill at arms training and various other APC training.

2 Star APC split down and carried out Navigation, PT and Drill training, one group had a break from training and visited a medieval event, getting to meet wolves, birds of prey and experience something a bit different.

2 Star ACS went out on Adventurous training, paddleboarding and high ropes courses, joined by some of the signals platoon.

Day 10

The 1 Star APC Cadre carried on their mixed training. All the cadets needing Skill at Arms were tested ahead of the blank firing exercise later in camp. Others were in fieldcraft lessons and some had a go at the paintball alley

2 Star APC carried out syllabus training in the morning and then had an afternoon of mixed sports.

2 Star ACS took on a climbing wall before continuing their syllabus training.

Day 11 (Visitors Day)

The 1 Star APC Cadre spent the day undertaking PT testing. designed to progressive and challenging the cadets are assessed on a range of different activities including Press-ups, trunk curls, sprint and stamina runs and ball bounce. There was a break from testing in the afternoon when the cadets had a chance to visit the Infantry engagement team, 12 Regt Royal Artillery and the Signals platoon who had put on displays for our visitors day. Cadet got to handle different weapon systems, see how radios work and feel the weight of some missile systems. After evening meal the cadets were issued all the kit they will need during their fieldcraft exercise including ration packs.

2 Star APC also visited the stands for visitors day in the morning after a briefing from Major Welsh. The cadets also enjoyed their visit. They then had a go at Paintball and carried on with normal training to finish off their APC training.

2 Star ACS were on the ranges, practicing shooting and also getting to practice operating in an urban environment, seeing the challenges it brings and how it differs from the wooded terrain they are used to operating in during fieldcraft training.

As we mentioned above it was also visitors day, Regular and reserve personnel alongside various dignitaries from across Sussex visited camp, starting with a brief from Lt Col Earley before they split into groups and were escorted by members of county HQ to visit the stands and also see cadets training and chat to the cadets about their experience of camp so far. All the visitors were impressed by the standard of the cadets training and behaviour.

Day 12

The cadets are in the final couple of days but that doesn't mean the training is letting up. The 1 Star APC Cadre deployed into the field on their field exercise. Practicing all the training they have been through so far and putting into action cooking rations, putting up Basha's and operating in the field.

2 Star APC were on the ranges working towards their 2 star shoot by working on getting tight groupings on the targets, they also trained in the urban village, practicing operating in a built up area.

2 Star ACS carried on training, finishing off subjects ahead of the OC cup competition running tomorrow.

Day 13

The 1 Star APC Cadre woke up to low cloud and drizzle in the harbour area. They were stood to and had to defend off an enemy attack before breakfast. After that they carried on training until the end of the exercise. The ADS then put on a demonstration of a section attack and withdraw for the cadets and Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Lady Emma Barnard who was visiting camp.

The 2 Star APC Cadre carried on with ranges before returning to camp and giving the rifles a thorough clean.

The 2 Star ACS Cadre carried out mop up testing around camp, PT, Rifle drill and First aid.

We as mentioned above we had Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Lady Emma Barnard visit us at camp, she was introduced to the county HQ staff and then given an overview of the county and our training at camp before meeting cadets who were carrying out training. Whilst visiting we asked her to present three of our senior cadets with their Master cadet badges and watched the 1 Star APC ADS assault. After the attack she spent time with the cadets talking to them and asking questions about camp.