Every year the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Army League (COMAL) invite cadets and officers from the Combined Cadet Force contingent at Lordswood Boys’ School to join them on their ‘Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge’ held at the US Army’s Fort Devens outside Boston. At the camp they join with 19 other high schools from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island that have Army sections of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) for five days of challenging activities.
The cadets chosen from Lordswood were all members of the Corps of Drums and their visit started with a two night stay over the weekend in Boston. The first day involved a visit to the USS Constitution and then the museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, followed by some sightseeing and shopping. On Sunday 18th June the cadets joined thousands of other participants to march with drums beating in the annual Bunker Hill Day parade which winds for two miles up and down the streets of Charlestown. The sight of Red Coats on the streets caused a stir amongst the on-lookers that lined the streets cheering on the marchers. Although it was an overcast day the cadets struggled with the heat under their thick woollen tunics and home service helmets.
Immediately after the parade the party changed into combat uniform and travelled with cadets from East Boston High School to Fort Devens where they settled in as part of the advanced party.
On Monday the remaining schools arrived and all the cadets were then split into three companies, each with two platoons, who they would share accommodation with for the rest of the camp. This is a big difference from CCF camps in the UK where schools remain self contained, but is a strength of the US system. Cadets are forced to mix and make new friends and as a result the companies soon bond with a strong sense of identity.
For the rest of the week the companies rotate through three days of activities:Day One – Abseiling and Leadership Reaction Course (Command Tasks)Day Two – Watermanship, flotation packs, and kayakingDay Three – Battlefield tour and air rifle shootingIn the evenings there were intercompany games.
Our American hosts were extremely friendly and generous and the cadets left having made many new friends. The contingent is extremely grateful to the Ulysses Trust for its support without which the cadets would not have been able to take part in this expedition.Lt Col Neil Mackintosh