A round up of our first full day of Virtual Annual Camp

It’s been a busy day for our first day of lessons at virtual Annual Camp.

29 July 2020


The day began with a care of uniform and boot cleaning lesson for the basic cadre. SSI Freeman taught the cadets how best to wash, iron and store their uniform. During the lesson her dog could be heard in the background enjoying a squeaky toy, one of realities of virtual training from home. Being a very sporty person she had some great advice of how to store a beret to keep it nicely in shape, by storing it on a football or trophy.

Running concurrently to SSI Freeman’s lesson, was a STEM class for the star twos with Major Girvan. He’s a particularly suited to take this lesson, as in his day job he uses STEM skills to develop high end military equipment. He explained how Essex ACF are implementing the Crest Award, which is a national scheme for gaining a recognised STEM qualification. The participants shared how they believe this will be beneficial to their futures with Cadet Saville of Harlow detachment saying that she wants to join the Army Air Corps and she believes that Crest will help her in achieving her dream.

The next STEM lesson, which is on Tuesday will involve a challenge in which the cadets will need to use cans of fizzy drinks, a stack of books and sellotape. The winning cadets will have their Crest fees paid for as their prize. We cant wait to join in with this event!

Later in the morning, the star one Signals lesson with the County Signals Officer, SMI Cheeseman was well attended by 40 cadets. SMI Cheeseman explained how a Personal Role Radio can be useful in urban training environment, such as Rype village at Lydd camp which is where Annual Camp would have been this year. He spoke of how some of his best experiences in the cadets have been in Rype village, inspiring the cadets for when they will visit next year. He finished the lesson by asking questions of some of the cadets. Everyone was a little quiet, but it was only their first lesson of camp so they may become a little braver in time when more used to the delivery method of the lessons.

Elsewhere, the star three cadre had a full day of Shooting and Coaching theory, learning how to teach weapons skills to other cadets. As well being taught what coaching actually is, the cadets also learned the role of a coach. This was followed by a thorough explanation of the causes of bad shooting. The marksmanship principles were then addressed and dry practice drills were discussed. A brilliant way of testing position and hold was looked at, with the idea of balancing a coin on the barrel to see how long this balance can be sustained. In the afternoon the cadets learned sight adjustment, to help ensure that the correct eye relief is achieved. A key message in the lesson was to make sure that any coaching advice is encouraging.

In the afternoon the star one cadets had a lesson in what food to pack for an expedition with Lt Griffiths. It was full of lots of helpful tips including nutritional benefits of different foods, practical consideration of food packaging such as cans and jars adding extra weight. There was a segment comparing merits of different types of stoves. On the subject of stoves, there was also the great advice to test a new stove at home. This so you aren’t trying it for the first time on an expedition where you will go hungry if anything goes wrong. Lt Griffiths also added that there is a beneficial social element to eating with friends. When you’re cold and tired, cooking together, telling jokes and singing songs can provide an essential morale boost.

Later in the afternoon Major Coffin gave an introduction to adventurous training to the basic cadets. He showcased the various AT opportunities with Essex ACF such as rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, archery, canoeing and mountain biking. He spoke about some of the more unique opportunities that have been available like caving and skiing, and added the interesting fact that it takes two days to paddle Loch Ness in a canoe. He also spoke of 'Itchyfoot' which is our Annual week long dedicated AT trip in the Peak District.

At the same time as the AT lesson, SSI Loughran and SSI Hetzel were presenting a star two fieldcraft theory lesson. They began with an element of navigation, particularly using the stars to assist in keeping direction at night. They went on to talking about functional group and the roles of the people in the section and what their role entails, taking time to cover all the duties from commander through 2IC, scout, Signaler and Rifleperson. They then provided a detailed explanation the the various different type of patrols. The field training concluded with some pairs Fire and Manoeuvre.

Once the day’s lessons were done and everyone had taken the chance for a little downtime and dinner, the evening saw a guest presentation from members of The Royal Artillery. Firstly, we were introduced to the two main tasks of the regiment which is to either 'locate' or 'strike'. This included a presentation with some exciting videos of the equipment that they use for these roles. Which was then followed by a more in depth look at the specialist roles and possibilities available within the regiment, to gain the much coveted 'Maroon beret' from attending P Company or how to gain the 'Green beret' from the All Arms Commando Course. They spoke briefly of the Royal Horse Troop and their ceremonial duties as well as the sporting opportunities on offer to members of the regiment. The presentation was concluded with an enthusiastic question and answer session, in which cadets were able to express their gratitude for the evening, that for some has fueled their curiosity for joining The Royal Artillery.
It’s been an extremely successful first full day of training, and we are all looking forward to what tomorrow bring