My experience with CCF

In the Third Form boys have the option to join the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). The CCF is one of the highlights of the School. Through becoming a cadet, boys develop self-reliance, resourcefulness, leadership and perseverance. The CCF offers boys opportunities to experience things they would never normally be able to try. It gives them a challenging yet safe environment to experience a military environment. These include weekend camps at military bases where boys learn about their chosen section of the CCF (Army, Navy or RAF). Outdoor activities such as orienteering, shooting, obstacle course, powerboating and flying are just some of the things on offer. The boys themselves are testimony to the success of the CCF. Here is Shadman's account.

Why did you join the CCF?

When we start in third form we have to choose between CCF or CSO. At the time, I knew very little about these two organisations. However, I became interested in the CCF when I saw Annual General Inspection. I spoke to some boys who were in CCF and they told me that although it is challenging, CCF is very rewarding. I then decided to join and it is now something I genuinely enjoy.

What have you enjoyed the most so far?

CCF is a steep learning curve regardless of which section you choose. It is quite daunting going on your first weekend camp. For some of us it was the first time away from home. Having said that, the staff and the older boys made sure we were safe and making the most of our time.

I myself joined the RAF section and I really enjoyed our first camp. This was a recruit’s training camp and was done alongside the other sections. We learned about basic military knowledge so that we were prepared for our next camp at a real RAF base. In the RAF, we learned about the history of the RAF as well as some drill. What made a real impression on me was the fact that the older boys, the Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) were given a lot of responsibility. They woke us up in the mornings, they took us to drill and they taught us lessons. All the while we were under constant staff supervision. My friends in the army section learned about using a rifle. They spend a lot of time learning how to use it safely for their next camp, where they would actually shoot it. By the end of it we were all exhausted but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during CCF?

If you talk to any cadet, I think the biggest challenge they face is time management. We have a weekly parade on Mondays. Although this gives us an opportunity to develop our skills it does take its toll in terms of time. This is especially true for boys who have exams coming. Having said that, the Sixth Form NCOs are now in the process of doing their university applications. They are going for the top universities and although this must be a very stressful time for them they are always eager and happy to help during CCF. Their commitment clearly shows that they enjoy what they do.

Now that I have been in the cadets for some time, I have to learn more advanced military subjects such as navigation and principles of flight. As well as this, I need to be more self-reliant. In fact, last camp I prepared and delivered a lesson to the third formers. This was quite a challenge and as a result of facing this challenge I am more confident in myself and I have a greater respect for the work my teachers do at School.

Are you going to stay in CCF until you leave CLS?

CCF is not for everyone and many do choose to leave after their five term commitment. However, there are boys who really enjoy it and I am no exception. Continuing with CCF into Sixth Form is a big step up because as well as the pressures of school increasing, your responsibility in the CCF also increases. I look up to my NCOs and I want to become one myself. Moreover, there are a number of courses that older cadets can go to. Some of my friends in the Navy went on a course where they learned how to repair a damaged ship. They told me how holes started spewing out water in very awkward places and they had to patch these up with things around them. One of the great things about CCF is the opportunity to develop your leadership skills. All three sections have a dedicated leadership course that takes place in the summer. I have applied for the Air Cadets Leadership Course (ACLC). Places are given on a competitive basis and every year two or three boys get a place. The NCOs who went on it recommended it to me. It is a very challenging environment where you are under constant pressure and to start with you don’t know anyone there. There are a number of team exercises that get progressively harder. However by the end of the course you become an excellent leader and make lifelong friends along the way.

Would you recommend CCF to other boys?

Definitely, CCF is something I have really enjoyed. I have gained a lot of skills and I intend to hone them further by staying on until I leave CLS. Discipline, confidence and resilience are excellent skills for anyone to have and I am sure that these will help me when I have a career myself. CCF can be very challenging but it is also very rewarding. It gives boys who are usually quiet and subdued an opportunity to shine. Of course CSO is also a very good option where boys get to volunteer and help out in the community. I however chose CCF because it offers opportunities that I would not get anywhere else.

Discipline, confidence and resilience are excellent skills for anyone to have.