My time on Annual Camp 2019 by SSI Ryan Gemmel
15 years in the Army Cadets (7 years as a cadet and 8 years as a member of staff) I have been to a number of Annual Camps both in the UK and abroad and seen them change over the years, changes that are paramount to the success of our cadets and the development of our Staff.
Annual Camp 2019 was at Otterburn, a camp where I have great memories and arguably my most cherished memory as a member of staff. On the camp I was made the acting Company Sergeant Major for the 2 Star Cadre, this was a great honour but also a challenge as it held a lot of responsibilities, one I was looking forward too.
At times we dealt with some complex situations. However, we had far more positive, memorable, life changing moments.
Day 6 of camp a cadet approached me and asked to speak to me. This cadet had some issues on camp and some personal issues from home, after nearly a week of encouraging this cadet to reach his potential throughout all his training and assessments I thought that this cadet was about to tell me something negative but what he said will live with me for the rest of my life. He said “Colour, I just wanted to thank you and all the staff for pushing me and believing in me, because of you I am leaving camp with new friends and memories that I will never forget” This was and will always be the highlight of my camp.
After a long week of Fieldcraft, Ranges and Adventure Training and being jointly responsible for over 100 cadets I was heading home and reflecting on camp. I asked myself 3 things:
1. Did our Cadets achieve?
2. Did our Cadets progress?
3. Did our Cadets have fun?
For me it was clear that our cadets did achieve, progress and most of all they had enjoyed themselves.
It was a camp that had it all but the most important thing to remember is that the young people in our care are the priority, myself and all the staff know that we are sometimes the rock in cadets lives and someone who can have a massive impact in many cadets lives, we use this to empower each other and others. The Best in Everyone is something that I believe all members of cadets see and believe.
A little about myself
I am a man of Colour, someone who has seen racism in society and been a victim of it. Not in the Army Cadet Force (ACF). The ACF continues to develop and strives to become more diverse and more welcoming for cadets and staff from all walks of life whether that be from deprived areas, people of different religions/faiths or no faith, gender and colour.
I am proud to be someone who has been part of the Army Cadet Force for as long as I have. I have seen many changes for the better. We learn from each other. We are listened too. Cadets and staff are not afraid to speak up because the culture has always been a safe place for people to thrive.
Life challenges that I may have faced does not deter me in my life. It empowers me to want change and to be part of that change. Discrimination has no place in the ACF and I know everyone in our organisation especially Greater Manchester ACF, believes this as well. We collectively strive to be inclusive to all. I am proud to have grown up in and around the ACF and it has helped to make me the person I am today. I have attended a lot of training courses over the years and even been invited to become a trainer on one of the courses after being marked as highly competent. This is a great honour to me. All I have learnt from the ACF has helped me to become a role model to cadets.
Outside of the ACF I am employed by Manchester Academy in Moss Side as the Director of Climate and Behaviour. Manchester Academy also have a thriving Detachment where I was the Detachment Commander for a time. My role in school also includes pastoral care of all pupils. Dealing with young people is a huge part of my life and where I feel I belong.
If you are interested in knowing more about my story and what I was like growing up please click on the link below to read an article from 2016.