Cadet enjoy Annual Camp in Merseyside

The Officers Mess all dressed up for their Dinner Night
The Officers Mess all dressed up for their Dinner Night

NEARLY 350 army cadets, many from Dumfries and Galloway, returned last month from their action-filled fortnight’s camp at Altcar Training Camp between Liverpool and Southport.

All cadets were given the opportunity to take part in a variety of military skills, adventurous and challenging activities as well as sport.

Lance Corporal Chantelle Cowan (13) from Stranraer on the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer.

Lance Corporal Chantelle Cowan (13) from Stranraer on the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer.

Colonel Kevin Connor, the Commandant of the West Lowland Battalion ACF said; “I gave a couple of directions about Annual Camp. Firstly, to build on last years very successful annual camp, at Barry Buddon near Dundee, by increasing the number of cadets attending. The other request was for all to enjoy Annual Camp, and we have a group of cadets who put in maximum effort to achieve and enjoyed camp immensely.”

The military training at Annual Camp consisted of target shooting with a variety of weapons, including the more senior cadets using the excellent range facilities at Altcar. Altcar Ranges are only second in the UK for an excellent range complex only to Bisley Ranges, the UK home of target shooting.

There was fieldcraft package where the cadets learn to live in the field for up to 48 hours, depending on their skills level. As expected, cadets had their turn on the drill square, which many will remember as ‘square bashing’, but it appears to no longer be a punishment, as many cadets enjoy it.

Skill at Arms, learning to handle a variety of weapons safely, first aid, another core military skill, as well as navigation filled up the military training part.

Ryan Cosker (13) from Newton Stewart tries about the obstacle course on his bike

Ryan Cosker (13) from Newton Stewart tries about the obstacle course on his bike

Adventurous and challenging pursuits were particularly enjoyed by the cadets. The battalion transported their climbing wall to Altcar. The military assault course, their own mobile inflatable obstacle-course, orienteering, biking and archery kept the youngsters amused.

The battalion utilised instructors from Glasgow and Lanarkshire ACF to run the canoeing and kayaking on a local canal. At present we do not have our own instructors, with a few working through the intensive training courses.

Deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Dave Taplin said; “At one time the Army Cadet Force provided mainly military training and was viewed by many as a recruiting organisation for the Army. We are very much a youth organisation and over the years, adventurous and challenging activities have taken a more prominent role. We continue to flourish using a mix of military and adventurous training and sport for the youth of our communities.”

Each year at Annual Camp, all companies from around the area compete for the huge Lucas Tooth Shield. As well as orienteering, shooting, archery, drill and turnout competition throughout camp, a billet competition is run. Have you ever entered a teenager’s room? Could you imagine a room with 20 in it? Surprisingly cadets can keep a room clean and tidy, so for all the mothers out there, your youngster is more than capable.

Most evenings sporting events took place towards the Lucas Tooth. Tug of War has become a very popular event, and highly contested by both male and female teams. Come the end of Camp, C Company from northern part of Ayrshire retained the Lucas Tooth Shield.

Major Andrew Hay the local area commander said; “We had over 30 cadets from Galloway, all putting in a great effort and thoroughly enjoying camp. I am very proud of them, many leaving Camp with certificates and awards. I would say to any youngster between 12 and 18 years of age to give the Army Cadet Force a try. You may find it is an organisation for you.”

It was not all work and activities. Each evening DVD’s were on show, discos and karaoke, even a ‘Cadets Got Talent’ competition as well as trips out in the evening to local towns using swimming pools, skating rinks, bowling alleys and the funfair in Southport.