News Section

Experiencing the hard (but fun) life at Swynnerton!

Article posted: Jun 12, 2016 by Sqn Ldr Wilson

During half term, 2195 (Long Eaton) squadron ATC sent 12 cadets to the spring camp held at Swynnerton . The week consists of four activity days, one day reserved for icebreakers and one to pit the flights against each other in a final battle for the title of best flight on camp.

Cadets arrived on the Friday evening, then were shown to their rooms and the flight commanders announced before a parade. The camp was then given a general safety brief for the week and given free time until roll call.

Saturday morning saw the flights form up at 0715 for breakfast, forming back up at 0845 to get to march down to the sports field. 12 different activities were set up there in rotation, so flights A-L were all thoroughly occupied throughout the day.

They completed activities which acted as ice breakers, so they could get to know the people in their flight. The hard work really started on Sunday. The 12 flights were split into four groups of three flights to rotate through three activities over four days. For the suitably nicknamed “red day” (most likely to represent the blood, sweat and tears shed throughout its activities), cadets participated in the gun run, a casualty evacuation and worked on their leadership skills. The gun run consisted of pulling two components of a cannon across a mile course, stopping for pit stops and to completely dismantle and reassemble both parts of the cannon, as well as to fire a round at a target. Yellow day was a more relaxing day considering the rest of the week’s activities, beginning with shooting in the morning – accompanied by a short leadership exercise with blindfolds and a sensory trail through the woods. 6 of the twelve cadets that attended the camp achieved marksman awards, from Corps to Squadron. The evening beforehand was dedicated to ensuring that all cadets who went the range were qualified to shoot, and so if they were not qualified they were given training for the following day.

The afternoon consisted of adventure training, giving cadets a choice between mountain biking or kayaking and rafting. Greens day was a battle for the cadets. Instead of being treated to the hot, freshly cooked food of the mess, they were given a ration pack and were only able to eat from that – unless they brought some of their own food. The day was dedicated to teaching cadets all the basic skills they would need in a survival situation, from moving stealthily through an area to getting in and out of a helicopter safely to executing a mission under the cover of night – although the sunny weather had a large impact upon that.

Blues day – normally done in the working blues uniform – was the most formal activity day of the week. Rifle drill, with disabled L98 rifles, saw marching squads form and march around the drill square in a glorious fashion. The rope exercise in the woods meant that cadets were changed into greens, as it consisted of tying a rope to two trees and travelling across it. This was done over a river, with the extended challenge of transporting over a large box and two water buts.

The flight simulator was where teamwork really came into play, with the pressure on all cadets to safely manage and take out threats (and not peacekeeping taskforce) in Foreign airspace. Immense pressure was put on the flight commander especially, as they were constantly berated by the staff on the activity to simulate to immense pressure of the job in reality.
That evening all cadets met at Camp Amen, the base for the casualty evacuation throughout the week and were challenged with the most physically demanding challenge of the camp by far: the van pull.

Split into two groups, one half got in the van while the other pulled the van around the building, stopping when they completed a lap before swapping over to give the first group a chance to catch their breath. They had five minutes to see how far they could pull the van as a flight.

On the Thursday however, all flights made that final stretch towards victory. Putting what they learned in the week to the test, they completed the rock run – an obstacle course set up to test morale and support of the rest of the team – three separate casualty evacuation exercises, put up bashers in the woods and played giant versions of board games (hungry hungry hippos on skateboards is the most notable of activities). The cadets ended the day with final parade, where the top five flights overall were announced. Afterwards, a disco was put on, with many cadets letting loose and bonding over both terrible and awesome dances and songs. The following day, all the cadets left Swynnerton to return home, and so spent the morning saying goodbye to their friends.

Cadet Madison Stevenson said “I really enjoyed the week, even though it was very tiring. It was really fun and I definitely want to go next year!”