Folkestone week fuels cadets.
5 cadets from 51 (Orton) Squadron Air Cadets joined 36 others from 460 (Dunstable) Sqn and 2430 (Holbeach) Sqn for their first taste of a weeklong squadron camp based in Folkestone Kent, something the other squadrons have been doing for a number of years.
The week began with a trip to Dunstable on Friday evening to spend the night at their Squadron Headquarters ready for the 5am start to beat the traffic to get down to St Martins Plain camp in the convoy of military vehicles including minibuses, a land rover and a 6 ton truck full of kit, 7 vehicles in total. On arrival the usual finding of your room and stowing your kit was soon accomplished and after some safety briefings, the camp started in earnest. Day one saw the training start with first aid, leadership, weapons handling and field craft all on the menu ready to prepare them for the days ahead. The same followed on Sunday after some exercise before breakfast courtesy of a Royal Marine.
All seemed normal to the cadets until after dinner when they got their 30 minute marching orders to move out, all their own kit and al the exercise kit had to be loaded and ready to roll to the exercise area, from there in it was time to get dirty. The following days saw the cadets complete a series of navigation exercises, field craft skills such as building harbour areas, reconnaissance patrols and various exercises. Following their evening meal of ration packs, the cadets started part one of the night exercise with a view to taking the enemy stronghold, well the place where the staff were having a cuppa anyway. Overall after a long period time doing tasks, exercises and training, the tired cadets finally made it back a normal routine of a hot shower and their beds.
Wednesday was a more relaxed event with a trip to Canterbury and then the traditional sand castle building competition on the beach although with the warm weather, crowds and the tide coming in, the sand castles made way to some fun time. After the beach though was a more educational and serious affair as they visited the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-le-Ferne to take a moment to reflect in front of the Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall inscribed with almost 3000 names of fighter pilots who took part in the battle. This was followed by squadron and camp photos with the seated pilot sculpture in the middle of the propeller shaped base.
With the week drawing to a close, there was still time for a day on the ranges where the qualified cadets got a chance to experience firing the L-98 A2 full bore service rifle which only left Friday to come. The cadets might have thought it would be an easy day but the staff had other ideas bulging from their fiendish minds, so a day full of leadership exercises was to come followed by the mass clean up, not only of the training areas so you wouldn't know 41 air cadets had been there but their kit and their blocks back on camp. Saturday morning saw just three things left to do, hand back the accommodation and then hand out the camp awards with Flight Sergeant James Cooper taking from 51 (Orton) walking away with top shot of the week. The last thing do to now was to drive home via Dunstable to unload and finally arrive back at 4.30pm in to the waiting arms of parents who expect tired cadets but were greeted by 5 cadets still excited by their first week and lots of stories to be told to anyone who would listen.
Cadet Flight Sergeant James Cooper said "all the cadets really enjoyed the whole week, it was hard work and very tiring at times but the fun and excitement the continued all week kept us going. It's my last camp as a cadet before I join the Royal Air Force in October but certainly one I will remember for a long time. I think the CO will have his hands full next year though as he will have to choose who he takes with him as I am sure there will be more volunteers than he has space for as word gets round on just how great a week we all had."
Orton Squadron is recruiting now for cadets and staff, so if you fancy doing something out of the ordinary and make you stand out from the crowd why not give us a try. Come along Tuesday or Wednesday evening to the Squadron Headquarters based on Nene Park Academy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01733 391071.