CCF Recruits Training Camp at Crowborough
In my Third Year I was intrigued to find out more about Corps. It seemed to offer challenges and rewards which would give me different skills for life. I attended the meetings held on Wednesday afternoons, learning about drill, fieldcraft, aviation … let alone a new set of vocabulary! Three days away at camp offered an ideal opportunity in a safe environment in which new friends could be made and skills learned.
We arrived early on Saturday of half-term for kit inspection, showing our NCOs our bags and uniform, and then headed off to Crowborough Training Camp in East Sussex. My first impression of our accommodation was reminiscent of a dreary hospital room – the Army isn’t big on luxury!
After a hot lunch, we formed up in our sections (I was allocated to ‘Blenheim’), ready for the day’s activities – field signals, observation, drill and instruction in weapon handling on the small-bore target rifle. A hearty dinner was followed by more exercises in night movement (which involved crawling through mud and avoiding being seen by the ‘ enemy’), light and sound at night and a test on the rifle. By 2230 hrs (that’s half-past 10!) we were dismissed to our beds after an exhilarating day.
At 0615 hrs the next morning we were awake for a full English and billet inspection, followed by a two-hour navigation exercise out to Pippingford Park Training Areas (my section cunningly diverted via a café). On area, the activities included stalking, camouflage and concealment and cooking and shelter in the field – all preparing us for the evening’s exercise. It was getting dark as we were briefed by the Commanding Officer on our mission and made our way out into the forest, but swiftly we fell into a deafening ambush from the enemy. We crawled to safety using the techniques we’d learned before breaking off to our objectives: to find covert information about the enemy without being seen or heard. Through a light rain and darkness (and a lot of mud) we fought on, determined to find five locations. My section found four and were thrilled at our teamwork when all the sections gathered in herringbone as the exercise came to an end at 2100 hrs. After a debrief from the CO and a warm coach back to camp, we flopped into bed, completely exhausted.
The final day arrived and, like the others, we woke up very early for breakfast and inspection. Another busy day beckoned: target rifle shooting on the range, a paint-ball ‘close-quarter battle’ course and an obstacle course. They proved to be great fun and wonderful experiences, especially as Blenheim took the fastest time on the obstacle course. Lunch and a final parade followed, with several awards made to my friends. The homeward coach arrived and we all left with experiences which would last a lifetime.
On reflection, as a new recruit to CCF, I felt compelled to write up my account of my adventures. Would I recommend Corps? It’s certainly not for everyone, but I know the skills and values it provides will help enormously with school and life beyond. Personally, I have enjoyed it very much indeed and I thoroughly recommend trying it to everyone. It encourages self-reliance, time management, teamwork, fitness and challenge. I have increased respect for the CCF staff at school and now can’t wait to build on this great experience.
Third Year RAF