The Cadet Experience, an initiative set in train by Highland RFCA, is all about developing skills for life while having fun safely…or vice versa!
Whatever uniform they wear – the Sea Cadets, the Army Cadet Force or the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC), and whatever their own particular interests and motivations, they all share a common desire to try out new experiences, to acquire the skills particular to their chosen organisation and to pick up some useful life skills and vocational qualifications along the way. As a result, cadets’ horizons are expanded and they are encouraged to seek out new opportunities and possibilities.
At the heart of the Cadet Experience lies the military ethos that sets the Service cadets apart from other youth organisations. This ethos is embodied in experiences that are, in part, common to all the cadets, and include such activities as drill and marching (though the degree of commonality here is something of a moot point!), but begins to take on its own unique flavour when cadets are introduced to the sort of specialist activities relevant to their chosen environmental domain. So while the Sea Cadet will become proficient at, for example, boat handling, his or her opposite number in the Army Cadets will learn the art of fieldcraft, patrolling techniques or tactical appreciation. Meanwhile their RAFAC colleague will be learning about – and even experiencing at first hand – the challenges of airmanship, aerodynamics and the wider world of aviation. All these activities are designed and managed to ensure that they are relevant and appropriate to the young people who enjoy them, and while they are themselves both worthwhile and rewarding they also contribute to the personal development of individual Cadets, allowing them to gain maximum benefit from demanding group activities. Here, qualities such as teamwork, self-confidence, communication and negotiating skills are nurtured and practiced. These qualities in turn contribute to the development of a range of core values and standards, including integrity, moral courage, commitment, self-respect and respect for others. Within the context of challenging group activities, soon becomes clear to the Cadets that it is these very attributes that can make all the difference between achieving or otherwise your team’s aims and objectives.
As well as the personal qualities engendered by membership of Cadet Organisations, the Cadet Experience seeks to highlight the importance of vocational qualifications as complementary to academic achievement. For example, St John Ambulance First Aid courses have universal relevance, as does the enduring popularity and relevance of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. And it doesn’t end there: areas as diverse as SQA and BTEC level engineering qualifications and musical endeavours including piping, drumming and other musicianship offer their own unique brand of challenge and reward.
Of course one of the greatest attractions of the Cadet Organisations remains the opportunities they offer for their members to get involved with some of the most exciting of Adventurous Training activities, whether mountain biking, canoeing, abseiling or potholing. Here as everywhere else, the emphasis is always on safety first, with trained and qualified instructors acting within the guidelines of national bodies and frameworks to deliver everything from ‘taster’ sessions to fully-recognised national qualifications.
The Cadet Experience – fun and safety combined. For more information contact [email protected]