COMBINED CADET FORCE - Central Camp 2019

 On Saturday 29 June 2019, AMVC CCF embarked on their first ever Central Camp, a chance to compete with other schools and demonstrate what seven months of hard work can achieve. When we arrived, however, it was a mind numbing 30 degrees! Everyone took the opportunity to change into our normal clothes and socialise, playing football, volleyball, and just getting to know the other schools there. We stayed out as long as possible, getting back to our rooms at 10.30 pm, ready for a good night’s sleep to prepare for the week ahead. 
 
Sunday started bright and early, with a 5.45 am start for many! We all headed to breakfast before collecting weapons and beginning some skill-at-arms revision. After a lot of determination and perseverance, all cadets passed their weapons handling test, an amazing moment and a very proud achievement allowing us all to shoot across the rest of the week. We then continued off the camp to learn how to respond to enemy fire and set up a harbour area. We also had our first experience firing blank rounds, an extremely fun and surreal  moment for everyone! We worked in teams,  firing at an “enemy” and beginning to appreciate the value of teamwork and communication, values that would become vital later in the week.
 
It was safe to say everyone woke up Monday feeling slightly worse for wear, but still thrilled to get on with whatever was going to be thrown at us, and a lot came our way! Monday was a day of new skills and we were feeling pretty awesome. We learnt how to use mercury radios to communicate and fired air rifles and shotguns before continuing to the range to shoot rifles. The day uncovered many marksmen with notable shots from Sam Fielding, Marisol Hannah, Harry Lamond and Max Wilson, but a massive effort put in by all cadets.
 
After a long day of hard work, we arrived back at camp and ate, but the hard work was far from over. Next up was the obstacle course and we were determined to give it our best shot. We crawled through tunnels, jumped through walls, off walls, over walls! It was a lot of fun, ending the exercise with carrying a “casualty” from our team back to the beginning, a hilarious exercise for all involved! However, we still weren’t done, with a strong arms competition led by Cpl Rice, with 3rd place claimed by Jess Cook, 2nd place by Emily Roberts, and 1st place pipped by Katie Lockett!
 
Tuesday was a day spent out of uniform as we took a trip to Rutland Water to try our hand at water sports, and other activities. We spent a sunny morning mountain biking, orienteering, and working on problem solving and communication. We then had lunch, delving into the “horror bags” once again before turning our hand to water sports. A highly competitive afternoon was spent building and racing rafts, attempting to paddleboard, and having a relaxing sailing experience across Rutland Water. 
 
 All too soon, the day was over and we ended it with a ceremonious jump off the pontoon to celebrate the day’s fun. In the evening, the work continued, with a difficult 2 hours of drill practice to prepare for the upcoming competition as well as a four strong quiz team to tackle the military Kahoot. The team claimed 5th place, which everyone was very pleased with. After an evening of wheeling,  saluting, and turning, we spent some more time socialising in the evening, before heading to bed to get as much sleep as physically possible before another jam packed day. 
 
Then, almost too soon, the big day came, Time to compete and show off our skills. We were all nervous for the day’s events, but excited to put our skills to the test and prove that hard work really does pay off. Despite being the newest  contingent by a mile, we tried our best and were very pleased with how it turned out; glad for it to be over, and glad the effort and hours we had put in had paid off. After the drill competition, the time came for our best shots to participate in the air rifle competition. We had an extremely strong team, consisting of Marisol Hannah, Jess Cook, Max Wilson, and Harry Lamond and were all very proud of what they achieved. 
 
After the competition, prizes were presented to individuals and contingents who did the best in the military knowledge quiz, air rifle shoot, drill competition, and just overall being the best. While AMVC didn’t win any prizes, we felt proud of our achievements and were extremely happy for the other contingents who worked just as hard for their prizes. Soon enough, it was time to grab our bergens and put on our webbing, as the 24 hour field exercise begun. The climax of the week, the moment everyone had been waiting for. Nothing between us and nature except for a  sleeping bag and camouflage sheet tied to two trees. While challenging, the exercise was a good opportunity for some  cadets to take charge, with Charlie Rice and Neve Malcolm taking the role of section commander in their strides and Mia Bundy with Suzanne Fewtrell taking on the vital role of 2IC, helping the section commanders out. It was also an opportunity for us to practice teamwork and communication, while we bonded over everything, from withdrawing from the enemy, to dodgy ration desserts, (sticky toffee pudding anyone?) it really showcased the friendships forged over the week and the love we all grew to share with each other. 
 
We woke up Friday morning with a start, being called to stand to and keep an eye out for the enemy, after sleeping in our uniform and sharing a sleeping with our rifles. We cooked up our breakfast (anyone for some muesli?) and packed up our belongings, ready to leave at a moment’s notice should the enemy discover our harbour area. We went out and patrolled the area, being attacked by the enemy, ending in an ambush in which we discovered the enemy had discovered our harbour area! We grabbed our belongings as quick as we could and left, taking it in turns in our pairs to fight through and “kill” the enemy, sick of retreating. We defeated the enemy, packed our bergens onto the bus, and made our way back to camp, taking every opportunity on the minibus, as we had done all week, to sing at the very top of our lungs! When we got back, we cleaned our weapons, while singing and laughing with each other, rid our faces, and raced to the mess for hot food that wasn’t rations! After eating, we got cleaned up, changed out of our dirty clothes and enjoyed our last night together.
 
Saturday morning arrived and we packed our bags, cleaned our rooms and the store room and gathered in the cinema, before getting on our coach and receiving prizes within our contingent with prize winners  including Lucas Tweed, Liam Stone, Neve Malcolm, Sam Fielding, Marisol Hannah, and Charlie Rice. We sung our hearts out until we got back to AMVC and said our goodbyes for the summer, as Year 10 leave for work experience. 
 
 From the bottom of my heart, I can honestly say that this has been an experience I will never forget. The  experiences I’ve had, the jokes I’ve shared, the friendships I’ve made, have been so unique to my cadet experience. There are few places you will find a jokey, yet completely supporting and welcoming environment where you feel uplifted and carried, but never patronised. I have done things I never thought I would ever do, and I can’t wait to get stuck back in when September rolls around again. I would encourage everyone to join and get involved. The skills and friendships you gain are indispensable, and I can’t wait to see new cadets enjoy the same experiences and learn the same things I have learnt. Overall, the experience has been amazing. Bring on next year! 
 
By Emily Roberts (10GSL/SMC)