RAF Benson Summer Camp
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By Cdt C Kildunne - 2431 (Keighley) Squadron
Between 16th and 23rd August 2014, 4 cadets from 2431 (Keighley) Squadron ATC attended an annual summer camp at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire.
At the start of the week, on the coach to RAF Benson, I was worried that I might not fit in with everyone else. But by the time we arrived at the station, I felt alright because everyone was really friendly. When we arrived we were shown our accommodation, tents. Each morning it was cold and I felt like I did not want to get out of bed. But I got used to it.
On the first full day of the camp we completed a Famex. This allowed us to get to know our fellow cadets and the base. At dinner we went to the Junior Ranks Mess, where the food was very good. The first evening of the camp was very relaxed.
On Saturday we had a full day out to the RAF Museum in Hendon, London. Once we had returned to the base, we went bowling. It was really fun, however I was rubbish.
The following day we had a tour of a Merlin helicopter and took part in some sports activities. In the evening we did some small fieldcraft exercises in preparation for a big exercise on Wednesday.
Tuesday was probably the best day of the camp. In the morning we went AEF Flying in the Grob Tutor, where I was allowed to take control of the aircraft and perform some aerobatics. In the afternoon we went flying in a Merlin. It was amazing but intense. Probably the most intense hour and a half of my life!
Wednesday was very interesting. We took part in a number of fieldcraft activities to help improve our team work and leadership skills. This took place in a massive forest called Bramley Training Area. The exercise involved using maps, creating shelters and simulating combat situations. Instead of classy RAF catering, we ate out of Ration Packs. To be honest the packs were actually quite nice. The final exercise was a team death match type scenario where we had to simulate a helicopter crash, and we had to recover the black boxes and rescue the pilot. During this exercise we had to avoid being detected by RAF Regulars pretending to be guards.
On Thursday we had a great day. In the morning we were lucky enough to have a flight in a Puma. I had a great view as I was sat in the seat next to the sliding door. In the afternoon we went ice-skating. I must have fallen over at least 5 times, but is was still a good laugh.
On the final day of the camp, we were given a tour of some advanced Flight Simulator pods, which were really cool! We then had a tour of a small exhibition of the Military of the Middle East, delivered by an Army Reservist who had spent time on operations in the Middle East. Then in the afternoon came the drill competition. This was nerve-racking because the main judge was the Station Commander of RAF Benson. As a matter of fact, my flight won! Our final activity of the camp was a relaxing session of canoeing with some RAF Instructors. This allowed us to chill with our new friends.
On the coach back, I thought to myself, “Why do I have to go home, this camp was amazing!” If anyone else gets the chance to go to RAF Benson, I would strongly recommend that you take it!
For more information please visit the Squadron website