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RAF Station Visits and Camps

Every year, cadets are given the opportunity to attend a camp on an operational RAF station. These camps last for a week (normally Saturday to Saturday) with the aim of letting cadets see what life is like in the RAF. It is also probably the best opportunity that you will get within cadets to make new friends outside of your own squadron and to have shed loads of fun!

You will sleep in RAF accommodation blocks or tents, eat in the airman's mess and visit various sections around the station (such as operational squadrons, the control tower, the fire section etc.), as well as take part in a range of cadet activities as well as any social activities which may be available, for example the party that is normally held on the last night.

Weekend Camps

Weekend camps are designed to give you a taste of specific activities such as navigation, camp-craft and working as a team. These camps provide a great introduction to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, camp-craft and drill to name a few. You will also make some great new friends from Squadrons in your local area.

The format of a weekend camp can vary depending on the type of activities you will be undertaking over the course of the weekend. Camps that are focussed on Adventure Training will see you camping and cooking for yourself, whereas an introduction to the RAF camp will see you spending the weekend on an RAF station learning how they operate and more about drill and discipline.

Every camp organised by the Air Cadet Organisation has some form of small cost associated with them. This usually covers the cost of the camp-site and your food for the weekend. Don't worry too much about having all the latest gear either as most Squadrons have equipment that you can borrow.

Annual Camps

Annual camps take you away from home for a week to experience what it is like to be a member of the Royal Air Force. Often taking place far away from home, these camps are a great opportunity to meet cadets from other Squadrons in your area and take part in some exciting activities.

Once you are a First Class Cadet you are eligible to attend an Annual Camp with the Air Cadet Organisation. These take place during the major school holidays at Easter, summertime and Autumn school breaks. Due to the location of RAF stations you could be spending a week in Scotland, Wales or Lincolnshire to name but a few.

Unlike weekend camps you will be expected to be more independent and capable of looking after your own uniform and accommodation throughout the week. Don't worry if you don't know the best method for polishing your shoes, there are cadet Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO's) on hand to show you the best way to get a brilliant shine!

Whilst on an Annual Camp you will have the opportunity to visit various sections of the RAF, from one of the flying Squadrons and their aircraft to the Air Traffic Control tower to learn how the airfield operates safely. You will also take part in many fun activities including sports, adventure training and visits in the local area.

AT Camps

An adventure training camp means leaving your uniform at home and getting out into the wild to take part in some brilliant, exciting activities. The Air Cadet Organisation has two adventure training centres where you can spend a week taking part in many different activities including rock climbing, mountain biking and kayaking to name but a few.

Whilst these sort of camps may seem a world away from home, friendly and supportive staff are on hand to ensure that you get the most out of your week away. Parents have no need to worry either as all staff leading or taking part in adventurous activities are in possession of National Governing Body (NGB) qualifications for that activity along with first aid qualifications.

AT Camps can also give you, the cadet a taste of the qualifications that are on offer to you once you have been in the Air Cadet Organisation for a number of years. Once fully trained and assessed you could be leading other cadets on a rock climb or helping cadets to pass their expedition section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Overseas Camps

Once you have attended an annual camp in the UK, reached your 15th birthday and proven yourself as a capable leader you may be lucky enough to attend an overseas camp at one of the RAF's stations in Germany, Gibraltar or Cyprus.

These camps are usually attended by the Air Cadet Organisations older cadets (often cadet NCO's) and is usually a lot more relaxed in terms of the feel of the camp. As the cadets attending are older, there are more opportunities to take part in work experience with any number of the different RAF sections on the base. The week is not all work and no play however, you will have plenty of opportunities to see the wider area, visiting local towns and historical sites.

Due to the limited number of overseas RAF bases, and the times of year that these camps operate, places are limited so you need to make sure you get your application in on time. Overseas camps do cost more than a week on Annual Camp due to the travel requirements but if you wish to attend a camp overseas and may need financial help, contact your Squadron who may be able to assist.

Courses

As well as weeks away making new friends and learning about life in the Royal Air Force, the Air Cadet Organisation offers a wide range of residential and non-residential courses to its cadets. These can be focussed on developing leadership skills or gaining a qualification in First Aid.

To help you get the most out of later life, the Air Cadet Organisation focusses on developing skills in leadership, self-confidence, independence and self-discipline to name but a few. Attending one of the many courses run by the ACO not only helps develop these skills but also places you in situations where you may have to work with other cadets you have never met before.

These sorts of situations are a great way to develop ready for promotion. Most Wings within the Air Cadet Organisation offer a number of specific courses designed to show you what you need to develop in order to achieve promotion. If you want to know more about a specific course speak with your Squadron staff who can point you in the right direction.