Unity City Academy

Unity City Academy

Unity City Academy images

Year 10 Army Work Experience

It was with some trepidation that I escorted some 10 boys in an experience that would stretch them physically and mentally.

Day 1  reception, meet and Greet

Not the most exciting day of the week, but totally essential to the successful outcomes of the week. This involved a lot of equipment being issued to enhance the training and experience. Move into accommodation massive culture shock for some,(10 man dormitory).meeting the other students from a number of schools from across the North East, this was done by an icebreaker having to be paired of with another student and collect key facts and then introduce them to the group. Jay initially was extremely worried by this task,but drawing from his pool of moral courage, got up and soldiered through and was a star. The day rounded of with a couple of hours socialising with the rest of the group. Then the bit that challenged some more than the physical aspect, having a bedtime being forced on them, 10pm, with regular bed checks being carried out by myself and Army personnel. The students were introduced to a new word reveille and another alien concept up at 06:45 for breakfast.

In order to view the slideshow, please install Flash

Day 2 fieldcraft and patrolling and basic skills

Greeted at 06:45 with typical Cumbrian weather constant rain that drenched you immediately and resultant temperature that was at least 10 degrees lower, than of late. The students were taken out to a wet ,cold and miserable training area and were introduced to the basics of soldiering and took it like a duck to water, which is fortunate. This also included dining al fresco, in the rain with plastic cutlery and paper plates.

Day 3 sports and indoor laser range

Still raining constantly, which has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of all the students, after a leisurely start to the day. They went to the all weather pitch luckily for some team building on the sly, playing football, then off to get dried off,showered and changed before lunch. The next event was on the indoor range (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer) using laser rifles on video interactive range shooting at targets during a specific scenario. Not just a case of point of point and hope, as in call of duty, but to use your own judgement to engage only hostile targets. This completed with time to kill before evening meal,  they were set up for a short quiz to stretch their mental capacity. Here we are halfway through and  the physical aspect of this placement and proper fresh air have the students absolutely shattered and craving their bed, at that early time of 9:30-10:30.inconceivable that they would be in bed and settling down at this early time.

Day 4 1.5 mile run,command tasks and Assault course

Well who would have expected another day of rain. All appear to be a little bit fatigued today,tiredness etched onto their faces. Not even the incessant rain has managed to dampen their Spirits. Firstly they were broken down into 3 groups to complete command tasks, which required the group to problem solve and working as a team is more important than the task itself. The key elements focused on during this stage are problem solving as a group, planning collaboratively,communication skills and the resilience to keep on going when it went wrong.It was with much trepidation that they formed up to start the 1.5 mile timed assessment, this began with the obligatory warm up of 800 m walk jog and then they were off. The courage and resilience on display from all participants,with wide ranging fitness abilities, Jay and Perry gave an outstanding performance, never giving up. It would have been all too easy for them to have given up and took the easy route out. They enjoyed a spot of lunch and a 45 minute break, to allow food to settle, then off to the assault course. They gave their heart and soul into a gruelling session, which was plagued by midges and more importantly was on an incline, which made a difficult job even more difficult. The end is now in sight, it is now down to packing stores and tidying up their rooms in preparation for tomorrow morning.

Friday is here and the boys will be returning back to their families and a well deserved rest. They have been a credit to both their families and the Academy all week fully engaging and not holding anything back. Jay has been droning on all week about a McDonald's so as a special treat, I will be taking them for a meal on the way home. Both boys will have gained massively by this adventure,and no matter what career path they choose, they will be fully prepared for all life's ups and downs.

As a veteran Sergeant  Major with over 30 years service, it has been my pleasure to have shared this once in a lifetime experience with these remarkable young men.