Being an Air Cadet is an amazing, bewildering and involving process. Being the parent of an Air Cadet; or wondering whether your child would enjoy being an Air Cadet can be equally tough. Here’s what you need to know to help make that decision easier.
Why should I let my child join the Air Cadets?
We offer young adults from all areas of society with a chance to make new friends and take part in exciting activities in a controlled environment. Our activities are challenging – we will push your child to grow, develop and get better – but we’ll always support them and ensure they are able to take on those challenges. They are going to do new things, see new things, and have fun experiences that their peers and friends at school might not have – and they will stand out in whatever they choose to do next.
Being a cadet does not interfere with school commitments, and cadets will develop skills that will assist them within education like leadership, confidence, and team working. These skills are also valuable in later life both in education and also in the workplace – the cadets really does help prepare you for life.
It’s not a military recruitment tool: there is no commitment to join any of the Armed Forces, and although there are clear links between us and the Royal Air Force, there are no expectations or commitment to anything bigger than the Squadron.
You can ask any cadet or member of staff and they will tell you about their experiences and achievements during their time with the Air Cadet Organisation. We are all volunteers – and most of us come back to help an organisation that we enjoyed and benefitted from as young people ourselves.
Will my child be safe?
We train and prepare all our staff (many of whom have been air cadets themselves or have a Service background) to deal with the needs of young people and encourage their skills in all endeavours they undertake. Volunteer staff at all levels are strictly checked through the Disclosure Service (the new name for CRB), and receive internal security checks, before they can take sole charge or responsible leadership of cadets.
Volunteers are also fully trained and qualified in any activities that they are involved in, not least those taking part in adventurous pursuits who are also qualified first-aiders (essential first aid is also taught to cadets).
Rest assured – this is the way all squadrons operate – only with skilled, capable and responsible volunteers would we be able to maintain the high standards that our cadets experience and which helps push them to be higher achievers in everything they do with us – safely and confidently.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are other – smaller – questions we often get asked. Our common answers are here, but we strongly recommend that you come to the Squadron to see for yourself what we do. Who knows, you may end up wanting to join yourself!
- At what age can my son/daughter join the cadets?
Cadets can join us once they join school Year 8, however some activities such as gliding scholarships have a minimum age of 16 for application. We tend not to take cadets who are much older than 16-17, so they have time to get the most out of the organisation.
- Are cadets expected to join the military?
No. Although the ACO receives some funding from the RAF, we are not a recruiting organisation. While some cadets do choose to join the military, the training provided by the ACO is held in high regard by civilian employers too and there is no pressure on cadets to consider a Service career.
- Why do cadets wear uniform?
The Air Cadet Organisation is a military youth organisation affiliated to the Royal Air Force and therefore cadets wear the same uniform as regular RAF personnel. Cadets have lots of options for uniform, and we find that they tend to be very proud of it!
- What uniform do cadets wear?
Cadets wear ‘wedgwood blue’ uniform for formal parades, etc, a ‘working blue’ uniform for classroom activities and ‘greens’ uniform for field exercises. They will also have their own parade shoes and boots.
- How much does it cost to be an Air Cadet?
We have financial support from the Royal Air Force, which keeps our costs down. Once your son or daughter enrols in the unit, at the end of their recruit training programme, they are required to pay a regular subscription charge of £5 per month. This may be paid by direct debit if you wish. Cadets may be required to pay towards some activities, for example a weekend camp might cost £15, and an annual camp might be £40 – a small amount considering what’s involved.
- Do I have to pay for uniform?
Most of the “blue” uniform is issued by the squadron for the length of time a cadet is a member.Cadets need to buy their own parade shoes. The “combat” uniform – either green DPM or newer MTP uniform – must be purchased privately. A full guide and details are provided on the resources page, and you can always ask for guidance from staff, who will be happy to help.
- How much time does my son/daughter have to commit each week?
Typically cadets will attend the Squadron twice a week for up to 2½ hours a night. Outside of these evenings, there are many activities to do at weekends and in the school holidays. The amount of time a cadet wants to commit to is up to them: we encourage them to manage their time, communicate with us, and make decisions about what they want to attend. As long as they let us know they will be away (e.g. for exams, holidays), that’s fine!
If they don’t help, please do contact us for more information, or see how you can contact us and arrange a visit to find out more!