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CCF Summer Camp

The day after summer term ended, 12 cadets from Eastbourne College CCF Army Section departed for Crowborough to take part in the optional week-long summer camp.  Eight were College pupils, while four were Year 9 girls from Ratton School who have been training with the CCF in our partnership initiative.

Monday was spent out of uniform, enjoying some sunshine while undertaking adventurous training activities: archery, climbing, mountain biking, raft building and kayaking or canoeing.  A relaxed and happy day, with different individuals finding challenge and enjoyment in equal measure in the varied activities.

Tuesday was spent in the Camp environs: shooting, being introduced to the army obstacle course, trying out two imaginative paintball ranges, getting out of breath during an archery-based combat game, being shown foreign weaponry and the latest British Army equipment (including a Jackal armoured vehicle), air rifle shooting, and learning fire starting techniques from two very knowledgeable survival experts.

Training on the Wednesday was focused on fieldcraft. This began with the enjoyment of team laserquest games that became quite tactical, moved on to an eye‑opening lesson on observation posts, put the cadets’ personal movement skills to the test in a sniper stalk, and ended with an instructional period on ambush drills that included a blank-firing practice.

On Thursday, all schools on Camp took part in a round-robin competition of nine stands.  Each stand consisted of a twenty-five minute challenge that tested skills either taught in the preceding three days’ training, specifically prepared for in free time, or generally expected to be within the knowledge and experience of an Army Section cadet.  The smallest of eleven contingents on Camp, the College group had virtually no flexibility to cherry pick our best team of ten for each event.  Instead, the cadets had to be all-rounders and were on the go throughout the day.  They acquitted themselves very well indeed, gaining medal positions in three events: second place for the March & Shoot; second place for the obstacle course; and third place for ‘The Cube’ individual challenges.

Immediately the competitions were completed, final preparations were made for the group to set off on a tactical exercise that ran from late afternoon on Thursday through until lunchtime on Friday.  This involved blank firing and demanded discipline, energy, and self-reliance as cadets had to put up their own shelters, heat their own ration pack meals, carry their own equipment, and cross some difficult terrain.  For the first time the College exercise was run in conjunction with another school: St Edmund’s, Canterbury.  This gave each school the added realism of engaging against unknown and untested “enemy forces”.  For us (as the smaller contingent) this meant sending out a reconnaissance patrol that was duly ambushed as darkness fell.  The senior cadet on camp deserves special mention here: his preparations for – and leadership of – the patrol were calm and effective, yet not without personal cost following his efforts leading the contingent during the preceding four days: by the end of camp he was thoroughly exhausted.  The following morning, they moved into three separate defensive positions against which the other school would have to advance across open country.  Once three section attacks had been driven home against us, the dozen cadets moved into a final position against which St Edmund’s mounted a platoon attack.  Playing their part in defence provided a most useful training experience for the cadets, and St Edmund’s were very pleased with how the scenario unfolded and tested the mettle of their cadets and NCOs.

All cadets within the Eastbourne College contingent were commended on their approach to the week’s training, on their ability to cope with what each day’s activity demanded of them individually, and on the notable success with which they quickly established themselves as a team.  The four cadets from Ratton School were awarded certificates to mark the conclusion of their time within the CCF, while junior ranks among our returning College pupils all received promotions.

The contingent was accompanied by four officers who worked hard all week to support the cadets.  The College School Staff Instructor provided all necessary stores and equipment and was with the group to top and tail the week, overseeing the accommodation handovers.  The College’s Contingent Commander kindly joined the Camp for 24 hours in support of the field exercise. 

Captain PD Martin, Officer Commanding the Eastbourne College CCF Army Section, was delighted with the performance of the 12 cadets and the support received from other College staff members.