Army Cadets enjoy Boddam Annual Camp

July 27, 2023
Cadets standing in rows

2nd Battalion The Highlanders Army Cadet Force (ACF) held a successful Annual Camp at Boddam Cadet Training Centre (CTC) in Aberdeenshire from 8-14 July.

Highland RFCA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Andrew Macnaughton, visited Boddam on 11 July. Commandant Colonel Gordon Rae welcomed Lt Col Macnaughton, providing a tour of the new facilities at the Ken Masson Learning Suite.

Colonel Rae is also an Adult Volunteer for Robert Gordon’s College Combined Cadet Force as well as HRFCA’s Vice Chair (Cadets). Robert Gordon’s College is an Armed Forces Covenant signatory and Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award holder in the HRFCA-area.

The HRFCA Estates team’s £1.6 million improvements to the CTC buildings got under way in May 2022. The works on the site included building a Tube Firing Range and a Parade Square as well as refurbishing the old Shetland Accommodation Block into an IT Suite and classroom space. The improved facilities now enable the Battalion’s 300+ cadets and 80+ Adult Volunteers to train and learn in the best possible conditions.

Following the tour, Lt Col Macnaughton met with the Battalion’s Permanent Support Staff (PSS) to catch up on activities and updates.

This year’s Annual Camp hosted 102 cadets as well as 32 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) and PSS from across all three Companies. 2nd Battalion The Highlanders ACF includes A (Vittoria) Company, B (Somme) Company and C (Corunna) Company. The cadets were based at Boddam CTC for the Camp, from where they deployed to Dingwall and Fort George for Adventurous Training and Fieldcraft for two days.

This was the first Annual Camp for many of the cadets. The Bravo Cadre 1 Star Cadets at Camp said they felt more comfortable and were able to adapt to the Camp environment quicker due to the familiar location of their Battalion Headquarters. The majority of the cadets were looking forward to the Adventurous Training the most, which included rock climbing, abseiling and gorge walking in Dingwall.

One of the cadets joined the Camp straight from a memorable trip to London. The National Cadet Force Pipes and Drums were among the esteemed musicians who participated in a prestigious military musical event. The group was comprised of 44 cadets and CFAVs, including cadets from 2nd Battalion The Highlanders ACF, Angus and Dundee Battalion ACF, and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders ACF.

Cadet Gordon from 2nd Battalion The Highlanders ACF’s Vittoria Company was one of the musicians to play alongside the Royal Horse Guards and the Irish Guards. Additionally, eight Royal Air Force Air Cadets from the Scotland & Northern Ireland Region took part.

Cadet standing next to sign with weapon at his feet
Cadet Gordon standing at the entrance of The Gordon Highlander Club.

The cadets left for the trip from Aberdeen on 1 July. On the second day, the cadets got to know each other and practice the drill at Wellington Barracks in Westminster, central London. The official rehearsal took place on the third day at the Horse Guards, a historic Westminster building for the Household Cavalry. At the third event of the trip on 6 July, the cadets had the opportunity to play for Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

Piper Gordon said: “Overall, it was a really good experience. Despite it chucking it down on our first performance and on the fourth day, we all played well. It was a fantastic experience, resulting in a massive sense of belonging. This is definitely my biggest achievement so far.”

He also recently played at the Army Cadet Charitable Trust (ACCT) Scotland Beating Retreat at Edinburgh Castle with the massed Bands, Bugles, Pipes and Drums of the Army Cadets on 29 April. He also plays for the Strathisla Pipe Band. On ACF Pipes and Drums, he said: “I would urge everyone to try Pipes and Drums, because you get the chance to make friends, travel to a lot of new places, and gain free music qualifications!”

On the Annual Camp so far, Cadet Gordon said: “It has been absolutely fantastic. I have been getting a lot of stuff off my syllabus, so nearly there for my star level. My favourite thing has been reconnecting with friends from last year’s camp. We’ve all had a good Camp experience overall so far!”

This year’s Annual Camp included five new Adult Volunteers with no prior military or ACF background. Nepalese Probationary Instructor Gyanu Raut has been applying her passion and experience for teaching cyber security in her civilian job to now leading Army Cadets.

Adult Volunteer standing underneath Army Cadet Force gazebo
Probationary Instructor Raut at the Battalion CTC.

She said: “I like teaching, but I have also been learning from the cadets. The best part is meeting new people as well as seeing the cadets happy and learning new skills. I’m enjoying the thrill and the challenge of pushing myself to see what I can do. I really wish I had this same opportunity as a child, because these cadets are being exposed to such important skills and new experiences.”

Probationary Instructor Raut has now lived in Aberdeen for the last three years. She first heard about ACF volunteering from a colleague at her civilian day job. She said: “Sometimes it can be overwhelming to learn so many new things in this new environment, but the experience has been even more positive than I expected. The other Adult Volunteers have been so friendly, helpful and reassuring. I’m already planning on volunteering for the full two weeks of Annual Camp next year.”

The official opening and celebration of the Ken Masson Learning Suite will take place on 27 August.

Lt Col Macnaughton also visited other Annual Camps: 1st Battalion The Highlanders ACF at Barry Buddon, Carnoustie on 18 July; Angus and Dundee Battalion ACF in Bovington, Dorset on 17 July; Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion ACF in Chickerill, Dorset on 14 July; and Black Watch Battalion ACF in Garelochhead, Helensburgh on 21 July.

To find out more about 2nd Battalion The Highlanders ACF, click HERE.