Summer camp is under way for 350 cadets from Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) … and it’s one like no other.
That’s because it came within a hair’s breadth of being cancelled just weeks before it was due to start, and only the efforts of the RFCA’s Bert Burton and the rest of the RFCA’s professional support team managed to save it.
Close to the wire
“It really did come close to the wire,” said Bert who acts as quartermaster for the ACF.
“Everything had been arranged for the 350 cadets and 110 adult volunteers to go to Wathgill Camp near Richmond. But the Regular Army needed the area to train troops from Ukraine, so we were left having to find an alternative with only a few weeks to go.”
After failing to find a new location for the cadets anywhere else in England or Scotland, the only options were cancellation or to relocate to the Cadet Training Centre at Driffield.
“Our cadet training centre has accommodation for 180 cadets and kitchen facility to feed 150, so we needed to create room for a further 170 at very short notice,” Bert explained.
“We managed to beg and borrow tents from units across the North of England, including 212 Field Hospital in Sheffield and sourced field kits which include sleeping bags from Army loans stores in Bicester.
“We travelled across country to pick up everything we needed and erected the tents and set in place fire safety equipment just in time for the final inspections to take place the day before the cadets arrived.”
As well as encouraging adult volunteers who own their own caravans to bring them along, there have been other adjustments too.
“The older cadets are living off ration packs more than they would normally,” said Bert.
“And because of fire risks we’ve set up special hot water points where they can heat the ration packs up without there being any naked flames.
“The feedback that we’ve had is that a lot of the cadets are really enjoying their time under canvas which is great. But this is definitely a one-off year and I don’t see us having to make these sort of arrangements next year.”