Due west of Carnoustie is Barry Buddon Training Camp. A sprawling parcel of land with a coastal border, Barry Buddon has long played host to Cadets embarking on their two-week summer camp. There must be thousands of Cadets across Scotland who, upon hearing the name ‘Barry Buddon’, have a rush of warm and happy memories.
In August, Lowland RFCA was invited to visit West Lowland ACF during their annual two-week trip to Barry Buddon. Camp visits are always a highlight of the calendar, giving us an opportunity to witness the pinnacle of the Cadet year.
After driving up the long and winding range road to the heart of the camp, we were ushered into the Officer’s mess for a quick cup of tea and a presentation from the Battalion’s Commandant Alan Middleton.
Alan, who is also Lowland’s School Cadet Expansion Officer, took the opportunity to extol the virtues of the Cadet experience and to emphasise the qualifications on offer. Guests included Brigadier Ben Wrench (Commander of 51st Brigade), members of the education sector, and business owners. The presentation and the accompanying data made a compelling case for the positive outcomes of young people who take part in Cadets, teeing up our tour of the camp exceedingly well.
Departing the mess, we headed towards Cadets taking part in a First Aid simulation exercise. A handful of Cadets were playing the role of incident victims, whilst the other Cadets administered First Aid. The ‘victims’ played their part with gusto, not allowing their First-Aiders a moment of slack. Whilst many teenagers might take this an opportunity to be silly, the Cadets got wholeheartedly stuck in, demonstrating their cool nature and life-saving skills in an emergency situation. These are skills, which time and time again, we see making a real difference in the outside world.
As we ventured on, we were met with the sight of three Cadets orderly driving dirt bikes round a field. Whilst small in stature, these three Cadets carefully followed their instructor, demonstrating an impressive level of maturity. Dismounting the bikes, the Cadets spoke to the guests, expressing how much they were enjoying the activity. Whilst fun, learning to ride motorised bikes gives Cadets a viable transport option once they’re old enough to get their licence.
Across the road, Cadets were taking part in a signals exercise. Dispersed in a field, Cadets used radios to communicate, working on their communication and team-working skills. With a plethora of field cables, headsets and radios, the Cadets were able to pass messages to one another from across the field – no mobile phones in sight!
Next the visiting party was escorted onto minibuses and driven to a wood, where a gaggle of Cadets huddled in the undergrowth to shelter from the wind. Whilst the Cadets were waiting to take part in a paint-balling exercise, they made the most of their time and learnt about the history of their Cap Badges. From proudly reflecting on their unit history, to shooting paint-pellets at hidden targets in a wood, it was striking how diverse the Cadet offer is, stimulating the young people both physically and mentally.
After a well-deserved lunch, the Cadets reconvened in the afternoon to receive a workshop on CV writing from Joint Force Alba’s Emma Davies. Emma showed the Cadets how they can speak about their Cadet experience on a CV. With skills developed like commitment, dedication, confidence, initiative, team-working, leadership and planning, Emma assured the Cadets that they’ve got a lot to offer a potential employer.
Whilst the visiting party only had the opportunity to see a mere fraction of the activity that takes place on a Cadet camp (never mind the watersports, weapons-handling, sport and quizzes etc.), all were suitably impressed. It was evident that friendships had been formed and flourished, skills and qualifications had been acquired, and characters had been matured.