The Army Cadet force has over 41,000 members, aged between 12 and 18, located in more than 1,600 locations across the UK. This makes it one of the largest voluntary youth organisations in the UK, and it’s also one of the oldest, with a history which dates back as far as 1859. Although the Army Cadets are affiliated to the armed forces they are far from being a recruitment agency. Cadets who do wish to go on to a career in the forces will receive the best possible grounding, but everyone else will access training, experience and activity which will prove invaluable when embarking on future employment or education.
So you want to join the Army Cadets?
The main aim of the cadets is for the members who join to get out and have fun, meeting fellow cadets and taking part in a wide range of activities. Some of these are military related, such as shooting, field craft and skill at arms, while others are about having adventures whilst taking part in pastimes like kayaking, mountain biking, archery and rock climbing. The Army Cadets also offer members the chance to take part in a range of sporting competitions at county, regional and national level. Almost all of the sports are open to boys and girls, and include athletics, football, swimming and cross-country.
Over and above the chance to have fun and try new and exciting activities, Army Cadets can work their way through the Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) training syllabus which helps to instil discipline and self-confidence, as well as providing a powerful personal recommendation when trying to impress employers or educational establishments. Other qualifications on offer in the Army Cadets include the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, BTEC First Diploma in Public Services or Music and the ILM Certificate in Team Leading.
Giving back to the community
It’s not all about the individual cadets, however, since the Army Cadets also instil a sense of citizenship within members by encouraging them to take part in community based activity. In recent years this has included activities as diverse as helping to build children’s playgrounds, cleaning river banks, planting trees and visiting older residents in care homes.
The forerunners of the Army Cadets were formed as Cadet Companies affiliated to the earliest form of the Territorial Army in 1859. During the years which followed the Cadet Force developed and grew in size, particularly during the first and second world wars. Since the mid 1980s girls have been able to join the Army Cadets, and now make up 30% of the members.
If you’re interested in joining the Army Cadets, simply fill in an online form to register, and you’ll be provided with the contact details of your regional headquarters. Most detachments ask for just a small payment of around fifty pence to a pound, although some don’t even require this, and the uniform for the Army Cadets is provided free of charge. Cadets will have to purchase their own boots, and the detachment will point them in the direction of local suppliers. Activities such as the annual camp are generally provided for less than £100, a cost which covers food, accommodation, transport and activities for up to two weeks.