Three hundred cadets and eighty staff from Trent Wing, Royal Air Force Air Cadets, returned recently from the annual Wing Camp at Beckingham Training area in Lincolnshire.
It’s aim is to provide training to cadets in line with the RAF Air Cadet Training Syllabus as well as give them experience of a range of Adventure Training activities as well as visits to RAF Stations, Flying and Museums.
With 31 Squadrons represented from across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire the camp was a mammoth exercise for Squadron Leader Gareth Davies, the Camp Commandant. “The lead up to the camp was extremely hectic and it is thanks to the team of staff that it was so successful” and he added “However, with the activities being in rotated, and the qualified staff giving up so much time, the week flew by and a great deal has been achieved.”
The cadets were divided into 12 flights, A to L, with a mixture of cadets from across the wing in each, and each had a series of rotating activities to complete on different days.
Sqn Ldr John Pollard, Wing Shooting Officer said “This camp gives us the chance to upgrade and maintain high levels of marksmanship throughout the wing. A number of awards have been reached and for some cadets, this is the only opportunity they get to fire full bore weapons. The shooting team are all very highly qualified and safety is absolutely paramount in all activities we do.”
For the Fieldcraft and Command tasks it was another fun day, the cadets had the opportunity to go through full training in camouflage and concealment, observation, movement and reconnaissance.
“This is a fun activity and this year we’ve been able to develop it to test the leadership skills and teamwork of all the cadets on camp. It’s rewarding to see their faces when the penny finally drops and they work out the solution to the task as well as to see their confidence grow and communication improve.” Said Flight Sergeant Roger Durham.
The adventure training continued at RAF Digby with a climbing wall being put to good use with the cadets developing their skills and techniques under the guidance of qualified Air Cadet staff. This also gave them chance to build on their teamwork skills and practice climbing techniques.
Swimming was again another successful activity and gave all the cadets the opportunity to progress through their swimming competency certificates.
Sqn Ldr Worsnop said “It was a great achievement by all involved, together we achieved 113 basic swimming competencies and 118 intermediate swimming competencies. This is an increase of 92 intermediate swimming competencies on 2014. 10 advanced swimming competencies were also achieved this year. A huge congratulation and well done to all those cadets”.
Another very successful activity from the week was Mountain Biking. The cadets got the opportunity to ride through from the training camp, round a forest trail and then return back to camp. “In all we had a great time developing their riding skills and enjoying the mud around the forest trails. The cadets were full of energy and enthusiasm which resulted in very enjoyable rides.” WO Gardiner also added “We had 2 cadets that had not had the opportunity to ride a bike before attending camp, Our greatest achievement and most rewarding experience was giving them the skills that saw them successfully ride a mountain bike for the very first time.”
The wet activities took place at Newark Canoe Club on Thurlby Lake.The cadets learnt kayaking and canoeing skills as well as how to fall out, get wet, get back in and fall out again.
In addition, there were evening activities and events taking place late into the evening with the TWEET team (Trent Wing Evening Entertainment Team). Along with the general socialising taking place, when there was time for it, the camp returned home, tired but happy on Saturday to present parents and partners with huge bags of washing.
The camp also played host to several visitors. Wednesday saw Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant Air Cadets, drop in for visit trying her hand on the Archery range to test her bow skills.
Thursday saw Air Marshall Sir Baz North, the Air Member for personnel to test his skills on the Clay Target Range. Trent Wing has invested heavily in developing the sport, which has paid off, with Trent Wing winning several national competitions. Sir Barry is a pretty good shot himself, hitting the majority of the targets. The investment in the equipment came from a grant from the RAF Waddington International Airshow, for which Trent Wing provide cadets and staff to support the event. Air Marshal North is no stranger to the area, coming from the Sleaford area and attending school in Grantham, where he was the reviewing officer the evening before for 47F Grantham Squadrons latest graduation.
Another visit came from Waddington in the form of the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance. The team have become regular visitors each year, again being flown by Capt Tim Taylor from the Television series Helicopter Heroes. The aircrafts visit was delayed by an emergency call, but managed to make it in for a quick stop, with the crew, now complete with doctor, explaining their roles and their work.
The cadets also got to enjoy Archery, Sports, Heartstart Training, Drill, Obstacle Course, Museum Visits. It was certainly a very busy week and it is one that we will remember for a while. We now have the arduous task of trying to improve on this year so that the cadets have a great experience next year.