Fun and exhilarating two weeks at camp for Haywards Heath cadets

Cadets from Sussex Army Cadet Force have fun in the water at Thurlby Lake near Newark SUS-150827-110301001
Cadets from Sussex Army Cadet Force have fun in the water at Thurlby Lake near Newark SUS-150827-110301001

Army cadets from Haywards Heath have travelled to the East of England for their two week summer camp in Lincolnshire.

Three hundred and fifty cadets from Sussex Army Cadet Force (ACF)spent a fortnight (August 1 - 14) at Beckingham Training Camp, near Sleaford, for fourteen days of fun and challenging adventurous activities as well as the opportunity to hone their military skills and take part in a final training exercise with several nights camping out in the field .

For the cadets, who are aged between 12 and 18 years old, annual summer camp is an exciting and exhilarating two weeks packed with fun and adventure.

They are able to take part in a huge variety of outdoor activities such as kayaking, Indian canoeing, trail biking, climbing and archery and, for many of the younger cadets, this is the first or longest time that they will have been away from home.

In between the adventure training activities, the cadets practised their first aid skills, drill and turn out, skill at arms, map and compass reading on orienteering courses, their military knowledge and safe-weapon handling before spending a night or two out on a field training exercise.

There is also a ‘Cadets in the Community’ programme running where a number of the cadets are working closely with the Forestry Commission to help clear a heavily weeded area of woodland that has been planted with cherry trees.

Lance Corporal Mackenzie Lee, 14, is a pupil at Oathall Community College. He has been a member of 5 (Haywards Heath) Detachment ACF for the past three years and this was his second time on annual summer camp.

Before the event he said: “We are the only signallers in the county and so I’m most looking forward to taking part in the field training exercise at the end of camp.

“It’s an opportunity for us to put into practice all the communication skills we’ve learnt and show the instructors what we can do – preparing the radios for the exercise, and providing all the communications. We’ll also be tested on our performance and so we all want to do well.”

Throughout the fortnight, the cadets were looked after by 100 adult instructors all of whom are volunteers and manage a broad programme of military and adventurous training activities designed to develop character and leadership.

Sergeant Instructor Rubi Batton, 22, is a Cadet Force Adult Volunteer with 19 (Hailsham) Detachment.

A former cadet with (Seaford) detachment, Rubi has been an adult instructor for the past three years. A newly qualified PE teacher, Rubi will take up her post at New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone at the beginning of September.

She said “I always wanted to work with kids and it’s not just about training and skills development, there’s a huge element of pastoral care too.

“It’s very rewarding and I love watching the kids getting out and about doing fun things together.”

She continued: “There’s no doubt that my experience and the qualifications I’ve gained through the ACF helped me to get my new job.

“I have my Gold Duke of Edinburgh and I’m an archery instructor, mountain biking leader, expedition assessor and I’m half way through my climbing wall award.

“I wouldn’t be able to do all that if I wasn’t with the ACF and I can also take my qualifications and put them to use in the work place”.

Sussex ACF are also hosting 12 members of the National Cadet Corps of Singapore, ten cadets and two instructors, as part of an exchange programme that has been running for the past five years.

The Singaporians visit Sussex ACF’s summer camp every year and between five and eight Sussex ACF Cadets have the opportunity to visit Singapore later in the year.

Report and pictures contributed by Sarah Johnson.