No. 2 Company's Highly Successful Pre-Camp Weekend

No. 2 Company's Highly Successful Pre-Camp Weekend

23 June 2021

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

Cambridgeshire ACF’s training and preparations for Annual Camp continued last weekend: this time it was the turn of 2 Company to hold its pre-camp weekend.

The weekend was primarily based at Waterbeach Cadet Training Centre, with 85 cadets present. They were extremely well supported and supervised by 24 of our fantastic Adult Instructors, with the event being planned by 2 Coy Training Officer Lt Kate Blundell. This was a non-residential weekend, with cadets being dropped off and collected each day. The training was socially distanced as far as possible, masks were worn indoors as needed and cadets remained in their training ‘bubbles’.

Cadets practising Skill at Arms. Picture: SSI White

A key focus of the weekend was Skill at Arms training (SAA), with the principal intention of ensuring as many cadets as possible completed a Weapons Handling Test (WHT) with the L98 A2 rifle, this effort being supported by a dedicated and expert team of SAA Instructors. WHTs involve being able to demonstrate the safe handling of the weapon according to military procedures. This was a new experience for the Basic Level Cadets, and a vital refresher for the more experienced ones, the objective being to ensure they could all go on to fire the weapon at Annual Camp. Of the 40 Basic Level cadets who took part, an impressive 31 reached the required standard, with the remainder being offered extra training sessions and expected to meet the requirements in the near future. Other SAA lessons were also offered, including instruction to 2 Star cadets on firing positions.

Lt Burgoyne instructs cadets in firing positions. Picture: SSI White.

2 Star Cadets also received instruction in First Aid, and Drill and Turnout, with the availability of weapons at CTC enabling rifle drill to be practised.

Cadet Barrett learns how to attach the sling to the rifle. Picture SSI White.

Navigation training was run by SSI White, on his last weekend as 2 Coy Navigation Officer. He was joined by Lt Clarke, SI Phipps and SI Litt. They started indoors with a refresher of basic skills, route cards and measuring distances, before going out into the field at Bottisham Lock. On the second day, they taught cadets use of map and compass, with two different groups navigating around the Lode and Bottisham Lock area.

Cadet Cpl Bellamy and Cdt Cpl Taylor practising navigation at Bottisham Lock. Picture: SSI White.

Training for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Gold Award was conducted by County DofE Officer, AUO Ros Whyall. AUO Whyall was extremely keen to allow her cadets to progress with their DofE Award and take part in National DofE expeditions, which necessitated the completion of ‘framework’ training by her cadets. This took the form of a refresh of much of their previous expedition training.

SI Litt and Cdt Cpl Chopra during the navigation excercise. Picture: SSI White.

Our County currently has an extremely impressive 9 Gold Award candidates, plus several young adult instructors who are also enrolled. For the weekend, AUO Whyall was assisted by SI Lloyd Lester, an experienced DofE instructor and qualified Navigator who became 2 Coy’s new Navigation Officer as of Monday 21st June. As with the Navigation course, cadets created route cards, but also learned to use the digital application eDofE mapping. They also practiced expedition fieldcraft, including putting up tents quickly, cooking, nutrition and efficient teamwork, with the whole team working extremely well together and making great progress.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Gold Cadets. (Picture SI Lloyd Lester)

On the second day, the cadets were taken on an outdoor exercise to Ferry Meadows, and were joined by County First Aid Officer SMI Jules Perry. The cadets practiced orienteering, and navigation techniques such as ‘leapfrogging’, as well as night and low light navigation. The instructors staged an emergency, in which one of the cadets pretended to become a casualty, to test the groups response in providing emergency first aid and shelter, and getting help. SI Lester said; ‘The group worked really well together and made exceptional progress. On National expeditions, they will have to work with people they have never met before, and so it was great to see them developing their teamwork skills.’

OC Major Annis addresses his cadets. Picture: SSI White.

The weekend’s training was overseen by 2 Company OC Major Annis, who said: ‘This was a weekend training like none I have done before in all my years in the ACF. Thank you to the parents & carers for bringing the cadets to both days, we had an amazing turnout of cadets and instructors. We are really pleased so many new cadets have their first weekend under their belts, and the cadets showed great enthusiasm to do well . The approach and delivery of training given this weekend was first class; our SAA Instructors delivered 1 star & 2 star SAA and over 90 WHT’s (cadets and adults). Our instructors also delivered Rifle Drill, Foot Drill, Navigation (practical and theory), basic training for our new cadets. The Gold DOFE team worked with cadets in navigation, ready for a future expedition. I am very proud of the officers and NCO’s for the delivery of training and the professionalism and character in working to achieve the goals we have set you: selfless commitment to the ACF is very much appreciated.'

Major Annis had the opportunity to award certificates and promotions to a number of cadets, including Cadet Byatt who was awarded a DofE Certificate of Achievement in Volunteering, Physical and Skills. Picture: SSI White.

He went on: 'Thanks also go to our senior Cadets for assistance in training and guidance to the younger cadets. Again, you always play your part in making the weekend work. Coy HQ team, I would like to thank you all for your hard work and the smooth running of the weekend. Also our G4 team, helping assisting training.’

Text by PI Doug Stuart

Thanks to SSI Marc White, Lt Kate Blundell and SI Lloyd Lester.