ANNUAL CAMPS As many of you will know, we had to postpone a number of our exciting Cadet activities planned over the last few months and following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement on 10 May 20, in line with Government and MOD direction, all face-to-face Army Cadet activities are suspended until further notice. With no face-2-face training at least before 1 Sep 20 and the cancellation of all ACF and CCF 2020 Summer/Annual Camps. But watch this space because we are already planning our Virtual Annual Camp 2020 [25 July – 6 August] and have been approved to plan for an Annual Camp 2021 in Lydd Camp, Kent.
VIRTUAL ACF Meanwhile, morale remains high, we have developed an excellent system for Virtual Parade Nights and an online training network and my team of dedicated adults are working together, collaborating, sharing their best practice and great initiatives for delivering and achieving an outstanding #VirtualACF in order to keep the flame alive. This is no mean feat as although we have 200 adults, many are NHS, emergency and key workers, they have to entertain and keep the interest of over 1,000 Army Cadets, whilst juggling key jobs, businesses and home schooling. We are using Zoom and Team for virtual meetings, parades and lessons and are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) for many challenges and activities, including my Commandant’s Challenge and various Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) challenges and competitions at Detachment (32 Detachments), Company (4 Companies) and County level. I was also delighted to host a Virtual Mess Dinner Night in April on Social Media, in lieu of our Annual Dinner.
We are also ensuring that we check in with Mental Health and Wellbeing of our adults and our cadets alike and have instigated a 100% regular welfare check for all, supported by a new Welfare Grant initiative from the ACF Association (ACFA). We are making use of the time to get our adults up to date with online training and governance and getting our Cadets onto the new Cadet Portal which gives them access to their ACF records and promotion tracker. We are also using this time to get Duke of Edinburgh (DofE), Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) and iDEA (Digital Enterprise Award) as up to date online as we can do and I have recently given the go ahead for Essex ACF to trial CREST, the STEM awards scheme. We also have a number of our Cadets on the Online Cadets In Enterprise Courses which will be run for us by the brilliant X Forces Enterprise. I am so proud of our Corps of Drums who continue to carry out their practices every week online. You may have seen Cadet Wigginton play the Last Post for Chelmsford City Council VE Day 75, he did an outstanding job. We also had a National runner up for ACF Ambassador Jordan Wylie’s writing competition, Cadet Harry McNeish of Colchester Detachment, who wrote a very moving essay “"The Best Adventure I Have Been On"
Our Professional Support Staff (PSS) continue with their security checks and do an excellent job to keep the county running, despite the constraints of working from home. We continue with our promotions for adults and Cadets virtually. We have a new Cadet RSM Alex Kornilaki, who I promoted by phone and was able to award her rank slide via the wonder of Zoom (and both with the help of her Mum). Lord-Lieutenant Essex has already virtually met her new ACF Lord-Lieutenant Cadet, Cadet Sgt Leah Lambert when she zoomed her new Lord-Lieutenant Cadets. NEXT STEPS
I regularly meet virtually with my Senior Management Team to discuss our options for the next six months and start to design a roadmap to the return to full capacity. I have a COVID19 Medical Plan and Risk Assessments, which are ready for the next guidance from the Government and MoD. Of course we will continue to abide by Government Guidelines, and once we are given permission to proceed, we will take gradual steps, likely starting with adult refresher training and building up slowly, within guidelines, to small Detachments Parading perhaps part face-2-face with Senior cadets and part online for the remainder. This will certainly not be until the Autumn and as you will be aware, may not even be until next year. My priority is always the health and safety of our Cadets, our Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and their families. For those cadets that have turned 18 during this period, I promise them an invitation to a special County event to say a proper farewell, as soon as we are allowed. We will continue with an excellent Online and Virtual Essex ACF training programme and I will keep you informed as and when we have further direction or information.
The Virtual Annual Camp 2020 Plans are well underway – so watch this space and follow us on Social Media - Facebook; Twitter; Instagram - for more info and check what we have all been up to #StayHome #StaySafe #SaveLives
Colonel Leona Barr-Jones Commandant