CCF Army Section Summer Camp
Over 50 members of the Corps participated in the highlight of the Army Section’s training year: annual Summer Camp, this year based at Okehampton, Devon. The sections were immediately pitted against one another in a competition which rumbled on through the week, testing the cadets in skill-at-arms, drill, fitness, command tasks, air rifle shooting and the DCCT range. After a short night’s kip in their palatial accommodation, the contingent deployed to Scraesdon Fort, a disused Palmerston fort, for a two-day battle exercise, which saw cadets clearing dingy rooms and sepulchral tunnels, abseiling from the ramparts and crawling through moats and mouse holes in one of the most demanding and unusual exercises the Corps has run. As the summer rain cleared, Day four took the hardy band off to Meadfoot Beach for a day’s adventure training, paddle-boarding and kayaking on the open sea and hurling themselves into it from rocks and cliffs as they coasteered the beautiful south Devon shoreline. After an evening of beach sports and fish and chips and a good night’s kip, it was time for a two-day sea kayaking expedition – a unique opportunity to see Cornwall from the Tamar Estuary and a stern test of the cadets’ hardiness. After a day’s paddling out into the open sea, the party camped at the picturesque Mount Edgcumbe, singing with a gusto which belied their fatigue around an open fire. And then it was wetsuits on and to sea again, this time without the tide’s help as the cadets paddled through the craggy Cornish rocks to the welcoming bay at Kingsand.
But still no time to rest: Day seven was spent in part on the ranges, the cadets honing full bore marksmanship at 300m in worrying proximity to the South West’s largest caravan park; and abseiling off a colon-slackening 65m cliff at Chudleigh. Thursday evening, our last evening in camp, gave us a chance to reflect on a wonderful week, all the cadets receiving Capt Wilkinson’s warmest commendation for their efforts. Some were singled out for special awards: Cdt Sharpe (Best Recruit); Cdt Tracy (Most Improved): Cpl Carter (Best JNCO) and Sgt Davies (Most Promising SNCO). And so to the last day before a late-night return to Caterham: a wonderful package of surfing and coasteering on the north Devon coast during which, despite an unremittingly high-octane eight days of military and adventurous training, the cadets showed no less enthusiasm than on day one. The OC was moved to observe that it was ‘the best overall performance I have seen in 23 years’, and throughout the week all of the cadets displayed in spades the values which are integral to the Corps: courage, commitment, self-reliance, discipline, service and friendship.
M M OWEN
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