The Army Cadet Force charter states that it "provides challenging military, adventurous and community activities" and aims to "inspire young people to achieve success in life ... and to develop in them the qualities of a good citizen". This is achieved by "providing progressive cadet training, often of a challenging and exciting nature, to foster confidence, self-reliance, initiative, loyalty and a sense of service to other people" and "encouraging the development of personal powers of practical leadership and the ability to work successfully as a member of a team".
This probably all sounds very serious. In fact the ACF is about fun and friendship, action and adventure, excitement and education. It's a hobby that offers young an enormous range of activities, experiences and opportunities and also has a serious side - following a structured syllabus that can even lead to valuable vocational qualifications, recognised by employers and educational institutions alike.
One of the changes most often noticed by parents of new cadets is that they start to take responsibility for themselves and take a real pride in their uniform. They also become much more confident, independent and resilient - making them much better at recovering from life's setbacks. There are other benefits too: one of the most common reactions we get from parents after cadets return home from annual camp is that they have suddenly started making their own bed and keeping their room tidy!