Keeping Teenagers on the straight and narrow
Cadet schemes have been in operation in the UK for over 100 years. They provide a wide variety of benefits for young people through the activities that take place and through social interaction. Cadets have the chance to work as part of a team and this is good for developing confidence and self-esteem.
These schemes also open up other opportunities for youngsters. For example, they may get the chance to practice leadership skills and can gain practical qualifications. Cadet schemes are usually run by volunteers and they include the Cadet Forces, St John Ambulance and the Emergency Services. Activities and opportunities vary depending on the Cadet scheme; here is a brief overview of each:
The Cadet Forces
These consist of the Army Cadets, Air Cadets and Sea Cadets (including the Royal Marine Cadets).
Army Cadets – There are currently more than 45,000 Army Cadets in the UK who are involved in many adventurous, educational and challenging activities such as abseiling, rock climbing and mountain biking. Some activities have a military basis whereas others are community focused. Cadets also get the chance to take part in camps and sporting competitions.
Membership of the Army Cadets is open to boys and girls aged from 12 to 18. Qualifications that young people can gain include the Army Proficiency Certificate, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and a BTEC Diploma.
Air Cadets – UK Air Cadets consist of boys and girls aged between 13 and 20 and there are over 40,000 of them. Those aged over 17 usually join the Volunteer Section.
Although the Air Cadet Organization is sponsored by the Royal Air Force, it teaches a wide range of other skills as well as promoting an interest in aviation. Air Cadets have the chance to take part in aircraft flights and many other activities such as sports, abseiling and music. They can also go on adventure camping trips and sometimes have the chance to travel overseas.
In terms of skills and qualifications, the Air Cadet Organization teaches leadership skills through its Summer Leadership course, and Air Cadets can gain BTEC qualifications, a City and Guilds in Management and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Sea Cadets – Membership of the Sea Cadets is open to boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18. The range of challenging activities provided has a nautical theme, and these activities are designed to develop key skills including team work, communication and leadership. Activities include sailing, shooting and canoeing as well as the chance to attend summer camps and training courses. In addition to these activities Royal Marine Cadets have more specialist, demanding training, which can include, for example, weapons handling and map reading.
Qualifications that Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets can gain include BTECs, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and qualifications from the Royal Yachting Association and the British Canoeing Union.
St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance has almost 20,000 young members as well as over 23,000 adult members. There are three schemes for young members: Badgers for those aged 5 to 10, Cadets for those aged 10 to 16 and LINKS for those in higher education. Cadets learn first aid and fire prevention but also take part in many other activities including sport and photography. They have the chance to practice their first aid skills at public events and older Cadets have opportunities to train others in first aid.
St John Ambulance Cadets can gain awards with St John Ambulance through completion of a number of topics, which are pitched at a level suitable for each participant. The topics encompass various activities, which give Cadets the chance to have fun whilst learning valuable life skills.
Emergency Services- Apart from St John Ambulance there are Fire Service Cadets and Police Service Cadet schemes in many areas of the country.
Fire Service Cadets – Although Fire Cadet schemes in the UK come under the guidance of the Fire Services Youth Training Association (FSYTA), each Fire Cadet scheme is run separately. This means that activities will vary, but they are typically based on Fire and Rescue, and Fire Safety. These enable Cadets to develop physically, mentally and socially, and Cadets may also be involved in fundraising.
Qualifying ages vary for each scheme, but they are usually aimed at teenagers. Cadets can attain a BTEC in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community.
Police Service Cadets – Volunteer Police Cadet schemes operate in some areas of the country, but not all. Again each group is run separately so activities vary, but these generally revolve around crime prevention. The Metropolitan Police Service Cadet scheme, based in London, for example, teaches Cadets about the police service and first aid, and enables them to become involved in community projects and special attachments. There are many physical activities and some units hold summer camps and other expeditions.
Police Service Cadets can gain a BTEC in Public Services or a Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Apart from the Cadet schemes mentioned above there are other ways that teenagers can get involved in worthwhile activities. Other groups that they may want to consider include the Boys’ Brigade and the Girls’ Brigade, Scouts and Guides and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
All of these schemes are inexpensive to join, usually involving a nominal weekly fee and subsidised camps and other trips. Uniforms are often provided on loan, but it is best to check the specific guidelines for the relevant organizations.
Provision of such schemes varies depending on location. However, the number of youth schemes is due to increase following a recent announcement by the Government. This means that a further 400 youth groups will be created utilising a £10 million Government grant. These will include Scouts, Guides, Police Cadets and others, which will be mainly for inner city, deprived areas.
The intention is to improve the quality of life for young people and thereby reduce crime. It is encouraging that the Government has recognised the intrinsic value that these groups bring to young people as well as to society as a whole.
This guest blog was written by Diane Mannion (www.dianemannion.co.uk) who is the author of “Kids’ Clubs and Organizations – A Comprehensive UK Guide”. This book is the definitive guide to the wide variety of UK kids’ clubs and has numerous sources of further information. A Kindle version is available at: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008IG41DU with a print version scheduled for release soon.