Cadet FAQs

Frequently asked questions about becoming a cadet with the ACF. Click a question to see the answer.

Is the training safe?
Every ACF county has a full-time Training Safety Advisor who is responsible for ensuring that all our training is conducted as safely as possible, while still being exciting and challenging.

In addition, you'll find that the ACF does not tolerate any form of abuse or bullying and we have clear policies and practices to defend you against them.

If you are already a cadet and you have a concern about the behaviour of a fellow cadet or adult you (or your parent or guardian) should talk to your Detachment Commander (or, if that isn't appropriate, your County Commandant). You can find out more about our complaints process on this website.
How old do you have to be to join as a cadet?
You need to be at least aged 12 and in year 8 at school to join the cadets. In Northern Ireland cadets need to be aged at least 12 years old and in year 9 at school.
Do I have to join the Army if I become a cadet?
No. The Army Cadet Force is sponsored by the Army, but there is absolutely no requirement to join any of the armed services at any time.
Which days and times do the cadets meet?
All of our detachment meet for two hours on one or two evenings a week throughout the year. These are called parade nights. The days and times vary, but most detachment evenings start between 7pm and 7.30pm.
Cadets will also meet for weekend camps, competitions and other training. Your local detachment volunteer team will be able to give you more information on what activities your child can get involved with.
What does it cost to be a cadet?
Thanks to the support of the Army we can keep the costs of being in the ACF very low. There will be costs for attending weekend training camps, annual camps and other activities, but we try to keep these as low as possible. Parade nights in detachments are free, but some detachments may request a small weekly subscription to go towards detachment events and visits.
What is annual camp?
Each year, ACF cadets are invited to join an Annual Camp and go away with other cadets in their ACF County for up to two weeks during the school holidays. For most cadets, Annual Camp is the highlight of their year with the ACF.
Each Annual Camp is different, but all cadets will get to learn new skills as well as put into practice some of the lessons they have learnt in detachments.
Will I be provided with a uniform?
Yes. On joining the Army Cadet Force as a cadet you will be issued with a uniform free of charge, though you might be asked for a deposit. All you need to buy is a good pair of boots.
Where can I buy a good pair of boots?
Ask your Detachment Commander for local suppliers and recommendations when you join. Some members of the ACF use for various bits of kit.
Will being in the ACF help me if I want to join the Army after my studies?
Yes, while there is no requirement to join the Army, being in the ACF does provide a good insight into what the Army does and helps young people decide whether it is the right path for them.
Is there a chance of foreign travel?
Yes. There are expeditions and cadet exchange trips to destinations as diverse as Canada, South Africa, France and the Himalayas.
Do you have to have short hair?
It is not necessary to have short hair but if your hair falls below collar length it will need to be tied back for cadet activity.
What is a BTEC qualification?
BTEC is an internationally-recognised vocational qualification open to young people aged 16 or above. As an Army Cadet you can work towards a BTEC Level 2 in Public Services or Music as part of your normal ACF activities.
Do you need to be a UK citizen to join the ACF?
No, you do not have to be a UK citizen to join as a cadet.
Will being in the cadets provide me with any qualifications?
We are able to offer senior cadets a range of vocational qualifications through our relationship with the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation (CVQO), including BTEC Level 2 qualifications in Public Services and Music and the ILM Level 2 Certificate in Team Leading.