We're sure you've got it by now, but Air Cadets is not about taking it easy - it's about seeing what you're made of.
Camps get you out and about and give you a taste of what RAF personnel experience. They're also some of the most enjoyable and memorable things you'll do. Usually based around adventurous activities (especially fieldcraft), this is where you take control of your new abilities and put them to the test.
Your first taste will be weekend camps, run by your Squadron. These allow time for more intensive training than during your regular meets, but can fit into a weekend and not interfere with school holidays. You could be doing all kinds of things like orienteering, over-night exercises or other specialised training.
Once you're used to local camps you'll want more. Every year, you're given the opportunity to attend a camp on an operational RAF station. These camps last a week (normally Saturday to Saturday or Wednesday to Wednesday) with the purpose of getting you even closer to Service life. As an Air Cadet, you'll fit right in.
You'll sleep in RAF accommodation blocks, eat at the airmen's mess and visit the various sections around the station. You'll meet the base personnel, as well as take part in sports, quizzes, aircraft recognition competitions and any social activities which may be available. There will be drill, uniform and room inspections, and everything will earn points for you as an individual and for your team. Cadets over 16 may receive a work experience placement whilst on the camp where they see first-hand exactly what a job within the Royal Air Force involves.
Everyone will normally get a flight in one of the Air Experience Flight's Tutor aircraft and being on an RAF station puts you in a perfect position to get opportunity flights on other aircraft which may have a few spare seats. Helicopter flight anyone?
Each RAF station has an Air Cadet Liaison Officer (ACLO) who will ensure that the camp runs smoothly and that you get support and as many opportunities to do things as possible.
This is where it gets really interesting! Once you've attended annual camp, proven yourself as a leader and have reached the age of 15, you're ready for an overseas camp at one of our RAF stations in Gibraltar, Cyprus or Germany.
These camps are more relaxed as all of you involved are pretty experienced by this point. There's less focus on drill and inspections and more on the other aspects of camp, such as work experience with RAF personnel and looking around local towns (like Limassol in Cyprus) and exploring historical sites.
An overseas camp is a must and it's not surprising that places are limited. Applying for one is just the beginning - you may have to fend off competition from within your own Squadron to get an interview. Only after this will you discover if you've been chosen to attend overseas camp and become the envy of your Squadron!
“Going on camps with the Squadron is great fun and has taught me a lot; they're very intense, definitely something everyone should do at least once in their life”