As a member of the RAFAC, all cadets have the opportunity to experience camps, whether that be a weekend camp or an annual one.
Camps are conducted on varying levels: ranging from squadron to national level and, for the lucky ones, international. They propel cadets forward in their cadet career, giving them an insight into all things military. A typical camp can see cadets sleeping in RAF accommodation blocks (or tents!), eating in the airmen’s mess and participating in specialised section visits.
Each base has an Air Cadet Liaison Officer (ACLO) who will ensure that the camp runs as smoothly as possible, and the cadets gain as much out of this opportunity as they can. Being on an RAF station puts you in a perfect position to get opportunity flights on aircraft such as a King Air or Chinook, which may have a few spare seats…!
A typical camp day can see cadet’s visit local points of interest, museums and memorials. There are also extensive activities carried out on base, from visiting the Air Traffic Control Tower, meeting pilots, interacting with the Fire Section, or even watching a Red Arrow Display! Evening activities differ from camp to camp, but all promote the social aspect of cadets: whether that be a friendly game of rounders, a visit to a nearby cinema, or a trip to the local promenade. This is a chance for cadets to get to know each other, participate in common interest activities, and simply have fun.
Being a part of Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing also gives cadets a very unique opportunity. Currently, we’re the only Air Cadets to visit DSPG Southwick Park, the tri-service base which is the home of military police training. Who wouldn’t want to take part in Crime Scene Investigation, learn about the dog handling unit or have a flight in a Chinook?
Looking for something slightly more specialised? The ATC provide several subject-focused camps, ranging from fieldcraft and aerospace, to band and stem. Those with an aptitude for all thing’s aviation are able to attend the yearly National Aerospace Camp, where cadets experience in-depth activities relating to Air Traffic Control, Engineering and more! For those cadets that are eager to expand on their musical talents, why not look into the National Concert Band Camp, or even the RAFAC Choir? Moving away from the blue uniform, fieldcraft camps provide cadets with the chance to put into practice theory-work taught on squadron, from first-aid to camouflage. This is also a great opportunity for cadets to gain expertise in live firing practices, as well as night exercises.
This is where it gets really interesting – overseas camps! Gibraltar, Cyprus and Germany are a small selection of countries that cadets can visit. On these camps, there’s less focus on drill and inspections and more on work experience with RAF personnel, broadening history knowledge and exploring various cultures and localities. Further to that, the ATC have an annual two-week International Air Cadet Exchanges (IACE) with Air Cadet organisations of about 20 other countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States. This high-profile event is an outstanding opportunity to visit other countries and gain a valuable insight to their cadet forces and culture, and often includes visiting government officials, military establishments and places of interest where cadets are both ambassadors for their country and for their cadet force. What better way to experience this aspect of cadets, than to do so around the world!