QE’s Combined Cadet Force headed off to camp and pitted their skills against each other in their first exercise since March 2020.
Cadets from Year 10 to Year 12 travelled to the camp in Hampshire and battled it out in an inter-section competition designed to test their abilities in activities ranging from archery to drill.
Contingent Commander Major Mev Armon has kept the boys active during the pandemic through specially designed programmes held at QE. But Major Armon, who is a Biology teacher, said the cadets nevertheless relished the chance to get away.
“For both the students and the team running the sessions, it was a welcome return to something close to normality and a fantastic chance to flush out any rustiness built up over the last two years, re-honing some of the fundamental CCF skills,” he said.
The event – formally the Londist CCF Army Central Camp 2021 Ex Cockney Fire Light – was held at the Frimley Park Cadet Training Centre near Farnborough.
The intersection competition included four elements, or ‘stands’.
These included the strictly regimented Queens Guard Drill and the “rather more chaotic archery tag”, where the boys enjoyed the chance to fire rubber arrows at each other – “with varying success”, as Major Armon reports.
A third stand was Patrol & Observation, where the boys put their skills into practice in a mock operation behind enemy lines. There was also the Mine Search, in which cadets worked together to mine-sweep an area of land using state-of-the-art military technology.
At pre-pandemic camps, the more senior CCF members would lead the younger team members through the activities. On this occasion, boys had to stay within their year group ‘bubbles’.
“This, however, did not diminish the leadership on display,” said Major Armon, “and with the three year groups in direct competition, there was plenty at stake, particularly for the more senior Year 12s keen not to be shown up by the fledgling Year 10s. By the end of the day, however, much to the dismay of the senior CCF members, the Year 10 section emerged triumphant, showing a real flair for the Queens Guard Drill.”
Overall, because it gave the cadets the long-awaited opportunity to apply the skills they have been developing every week in training, the camp was extremely motivating, said Major Armon.