Summer Camp on the Rock of Gibraltar
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By CI Zoe Hall - 733 (Newcastle Airport) Squadron
For one 733 (Newcastle Airport) squadron cadet, this summer came with the opportunity to spend a week in the sun, as part of an overseas camp to RAF Gibraltar!
Cadet Corporal Rachel Somerville, aged 16, was lucky enough to be selected for the week abroad alongside 40 other cadets from all around the UK. After an early morning flight from Birmingham Airport, they arrived a few hours later in Gibraltar, ready for the week that awaited them.
The cadets wasted no time exploring the RAF station that was to be their home for the week. After a morning of sports on the station’s Astro-turf pitch, the group made visits to the fire section and the bomb disposal team. The cadets even made a visit to the dog handling section to see several of the police dogs in action!
Other activities made the most of the Gibraltarian sunshine. The cadets were treated to a dolphin safari for an enjoyable afternoon of dolphin watching. Plenty of time was spent on the beach with some cadets playing games of beach football and volleyball, others just content to relax and enjoy the sun. And with neighbouring country Spain only a short drive away, the cadets crossed the border to visit a waterpark, where they spent the day racing down the slides and floating around on rubber rings. The following day they returned to Spain again, this time to take part in an adrenaline pumping high ropes course in the treetops.
The well-known Rock of Gibraltar is considered to be the major landmark of the region. It is therefore expected that the cadets spent time exploring the rock. The group spent time in St. Michael’s Cave, a network of limestone caves inside the rock itself. A major tourist attraction, the caves showcase numerous stalactites and stalagmites with coloured lighting. Also within the rock are over 35 miles of tunnels and the cadets were lucky enough to experience a private tour of some of the MOD tunnels excavated during the Great Siege, where Britain successfully defended their territory from Spain and France. As well as spending time inside the rock, the cadets also spent time on top of it. Standing at 1,393ft high, many were grateful for the use of a cable car on the way up! The group was then acquainted with the infamous Barbary apes that inhabit the top of the rock, who have a habit of stealing anything they can get their hands on, food, sunglasses, cameras and even hats!
Corporal Somerville said of her experience: “Visiting RAF Gibraltar was definitely an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I have come away from it with new friends and numerous memories that I can keep with me for ever. ‘Memorable’ is the one word I’d use to describe the week, and I’m sure the rest of the camp would agree with me!”
733 Squadron Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant John Sheedy, commented: “Getting a chance to go on an overseas camp is a very rare opportunity, so it was pleasing to see Rachel get selected to go to RAF Gibraltar. With the types of programmes on offer differing from a traditional summer camp, it was good to hear that Rachel thoroughly enjoyed herself. The camp gave her the opportunity to meet other cadets from different areas of the country and provided her with an experience she will remember for a long time.”
733 Squadron prides itself on providing a wide range of opportunities to cadets from the local area, with activities such as flying, gliding and shooting complementing schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, BTEC qualifications and the Youth First Aid Award to name but a few. The Squadron Parades on Monday and Friday nights at Kingston Park TA Centre. Visit www.733sqn.co.uk for more information or email email@example.com.