With Winter appearing and the end of the year coming up, what activities do you run in your various squadrons to keep cadets interested? Classification training, leadership training and aircraft recognition becoming all too “boring”.
This is very much Fieldcraft Season for us.
Then you’re either delivering them wrong, or you’re doing it too often.
Yes, classification training can be hard work and an uphill struggle - especially if you’re staff/staff cadets/instructor cadets aren’t specialist in the very niche subjects that are required/demanded upon us these days. So - either get them trained, reassess what subjects are being done and staff accordingly or don’t run them as intense blocks over the winter (or conversely, run one subject as an intensive block, then don’t do any classification training for a month!).
Winter does temper some of our “outside” training - but by no means all of it. As an example here are a selection of activities we have run, will run, or I have picked up from others over the years - all of which can be delivered in the Winter months without too much grief.
Some may incur a cost (sports hall and astro turf pitches for example) - ask your CivCom; they can only say no - and it’ll be a tiny fraction of the amount of money you can raise on a bag back!
Some will be whole squadron activities, some will be flight activities, some might be small cohorts of two or three specific cadets whilst the rest do something else.
Some activities work towards PTS stuff. Some don’t. Some have DofE written all over them. Some don’t. Some are team building. Some give a chance for cadets to show planning and leadership skills (to identify potential NCOs). And some, well, they’re just plain and simple fun.
All will these will depend on your resources, staffing and space etc - they are just suggestions - and I’m sure there are many, many more!
- Padre’s Hour
- Training Officers Briefing (giving ideas of Sqn weekend activities for the next 12 months - or get the cadets involved in planning it!)
- RAFA Visit
- OCs Parade
- Radio Exercise (not linked to PTS)
- Radio exercises (linked to PTS)
- Evening with the WATTO who’s doing an intro into AT opportunities
- Flight Commanders Evening (for Flight ICs to improve their flight however they deem appropriate)
- RAF100 Inspire STEM activities (there’s 10 separate parade night activities available there!)
- Zumba/Fitness evening
- RBL visit (normal involves skittles or pool plus chatting to RBL members).
- Evening with the FATTO outlining the specifics of PTS first aid AND a CasSim exercise
- Halloween party
- Shooting training (hahaha!!!)
- Intro to Road Marching - what’s involved and what’s it like
- Visiting lecture from a local Army unit
- Blues Inspection and drill practice
- Interflight Leadership tasks
- Blue leadership badge training
- Blue Leadership badge assessments
- Progressive sport training (monitored against pre-DofE benchmarks) followed by a sport session
- Interflight competition
- Visit to Fire Station
- Attending a local climbing wall for the evening
- MOI assessment evening (potential MOI cadets get to do a 15minute presentation on a subject of their choice - ideally aviation related - but not exclusively. Do 4 in one night, bish, bash, bosh evening delivered - but make sure you give the MOI cadets feedback ;)!)
- Aircraft Recognition evening - one night focus on 1 type of aircraft, next month another etc - vary them, do themes (USA, Russia, UK, Rotary, fixed wing, fast jet, airliners, whatever)
- Mess tin masterchef (ration pack hero)
- Mess tin masterchef (feed a family on a fiver)
- Mess tin masterchef (expedition food)
- Mess tin masterchef (the same bags of food but different meals)
- Mess tin masterchef (physically take them shopping)
- Visit from local PCSOs about their life in the other blue suit.
- DofE expedition skills training.
- Visiting lecture from ex-cadets on their role in RAF
- Role reversal evening (all activities up for grabs - including writing the next quarters training program)
- Christmas Party / Bowling.
- Interflight competition (themed - AT/ Radio/ Fieldcraft/ Aviation/ Aircraft Recce/First Class Knowledge)
- Visit from RAF Outreach team (if you can get them - some are still doing this!)
- Navigation & route planning exercise
- Visit from Air Traffic Controller
- DofE presentation evening (generally in October whereby we give an evening to mop up any outstanding DofE presentations)
- Fieldcraft Training
- Visit from local mountaineering club about their recent expedition
- Drill & Ceremonial Evening
- Cyber Security evening
- Wing DofE Officer presentations (normally towards late Feb/March to pick up the new cohort about to start - and chivvy along those already on program. Also a chance to touch base with Gold types and ensure they are on task)
- Visit and presentation from local BMFA club
- Back in the day a chap called @Walking_Target did a brilliant “Followship” course which could be delivered in an evening
- Field cooking techniques
- Public speaking competition
- Debating competition
- Basic Food Hygiene
- HeartStart training
- Classification catchup
- BTEC catchup (for whatever the CVQO thing is called this month)
- The Cold Weather DVD
- Visiting lecturer - SSAFA
- Film night (not keen on these but I know some squadrons like them - try to keep them aviation classics - Twelve O’clock high, 633 Sqn, DamBusters, Memphis Belle)
You’ll notice lots of people visiting - be they external or Wing based roles. Use these people as much as possible. Some will be flattered that you’ve asked them to visit - some probably won’t give you the time of day, refer you to your sector specialist (if that ever catches on) or delegate to a deputy. Whatever. Get those that can and will come in, to come in- variety is the spice of life and will get cadets thinking about other activities - and not be the same old staff delivering the same old stuff. Hell- you can get a different staff member in to deliver stuff that cadets already do and they’ll think it’s different!
Ask them to deliver a half or whole evening of activity. Do that once a quarter with different people and you’ve got 4 less parade nights to worry about. However, from experience, have a solid backup plan incase of a no show - or be prepared to switch around the training program to accommodate them elsewhere.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help from others - hell, ask your NCOs to write to the RBL/RAFA/RAFAYouth/Help4Heroes/Police or whoever to invite them in - give them some responsibility to deliver an evenings activity - either themselves, or through a visiting lecturer. The experience will do them some good and give them in idea of how hard it can be sometimes!!
Alongside this, we will normally operate for 8 weeks doing some “trade training”. This evolved from the old “projects” session and is a way to help engage cadets in DofE like projects where they can develop and extend skills in a certain area. Over the last few years we’ve had small groups working on:
- model aircraft
- a diorama
- a Raspberry Pi
- doing fieldcooking (including L2 food hygiene qualification)
- doing media and communications
- commonwealth war graves research project
- doing flight simulator training
- building a go kart
- marksmanship development (literally just working towards postal competitions or marksmanship awards)
- working through the NNAS syallbus
Running it over 8 weeks gives them an insight into DofE Skill section - and goes beyond into getting them 2/3 of the way there - it’s up to the cadets to continue in their own time to complete the activity. Those than can be bothered, normally do - it’s about building interest, motivation and skills so they want to complete the project themselves.
You’re on fire tonight
I was hoping to get a new award for daily word count. Sadly, I don’t think there is one. We should make one.
We have our. Squadron Interflight competition over a weekend at longmore
@Batfink that’s ace! Lots more to add to my TO stash Another one we’re doing is a visit to our local Go Outdoors centre. They’re running an evening on AT so presentation on what rucksack to get, how to pack it properly, what are suitable boots, ideas about clothing etc, etc. One of their staff is heavily into DofE and is ATC staff as well. Its a good evening, parents can come, upto them whether they spend any money, but cadets, whether current DofE or pre DofE get the info and the input. Plus its a night off squadron
We do the ‘masterchef’ thing and it’s hilarious.
We give them a budget of £5 to feed a team of 4 a 2 course meal with 2 sets of mess tins. Not quite sure Tesco make of these teenagers wandering around.
We then do a personal one for £2.50 for two courses, but no meal in a tin or pouches.
One cadet made damper after seeing an old Ray Mears to go with his beans and sausages.
We sometimes do Sunday morning outdoorsy activities to take advantage of winter daylight.
Recently we spent a large part of a day covering practical IET stuff for the newbies .E.G. using different types of stove, cooking non ration pack food, practical tent construction and deconstruction and general ‘campcraft’.
We will be doing practical fieldcraft in our training area in the new year.
‘Masterchef’ sessions are also good fun . There is a well lit outdoor area behind the sqdn building that is ideal for this.
You may also find that Cotswold’s, Ellis Bringham or Black’s will do the same - (if you have one near you!). A few years back our Cotswolds ran evening “navigation masterclasses” as well as “speed tent erecting” and other such things! They also routinely have special guests doing tours etc - well worth a look in.
I also have a couple of theatre’s near us who quite often have Banff Film Festivals or similar on. Yes - they can be expensive (OK -£10 for Banff!) - however, they are an easy quick win.
OOOOOhhh!!! Another one - Lowland Search and Rescue teams or RAYNET. Both have direct cross over with the sort of skills we train cadets in - and both normally have some good anecnotes to keep cadets interested. Our local LSAR have just started Drone flying which, again, has nice crossover appeal.
We had cadets make a Spag Bol from scratch on a Bronze DofE earlier this year.
What raw mince, tomatoes etc etc etc?
If so very impressive.
I do think the DofE for all it’s good points should allow more freedom to buy food en route.
Whilst I agree to a point, I’d also argue that people need to stop thinking DofE are the only way to do expeditions! Do your own. You can remotely supervise groups without it being DofE. Do them because they are brilliant ways to do cool stuff. Then you don’t need to aide by the 20 conditions - but you can actually do much more adventurous and inventive things!!!
We’ve done expeds and the cadets get things delivered for evenings like staff do, or staff do a take-away run.
The problem generally is cadets do so little expedition work compared to years ago, they are regarded as training / preparatory for DofE. When I was a cadet and my early staff days, we’d go camping with little more than a couple of weeks notice, even in the winter months. We’d get the CWC turn up and cook meals and supply lunches.
That list of films is missing ‘Airplane’, surely.
Yep, took the meat frozen in the morning, so by the time they got to camp it had defrosted and was fresh and ready to cook with. Took me by surprise when they were sautéing mushrooms on a Trangia!
I’m looking at adding 2 extra Expeds to our programme next year. 1 in Lowland Terrain to help people without experience get skills and days up for Lowland Leader plus a decent QMD at some point too.
That’s true, and don’t call me Shirley…
Do you still have the followship lesson? Could you email it over mate?
Roger. Wilco. Best lesson ever.
I did hear that walking_target chap was a bit of a legend