We spoke to Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Martyn Mayger, from Twickenham Area Sea Cadets to find out how their return to Face-to-Face activity ‘Boating Week’ was just plain sailing! (Pun intended!)
From feedback during our regular virtual parades, our cadets clearly wanted to get back to face-to-face activity at Twickenham Unit as soon as they could. In the 2 weeks leading up to a recommencement of full face-to-face activity, we were permitted to deliver external-only training as we initially emerged from lock-down 3. We decided to capitalise on this opportunity by laying on a 7-day programme of boating courses, taking advantage of a week in the Easter half term holiday. Essentially, we opened the Unit as a boating school for a whole week! The uptake was incredible and we had to lay on extra staff and increase the number of courses on offer to cater for as many of our cadets as we could. They were all clearly 'Zoomed out' from the previous 4 months and were desperate to see their shipmates again and get back on the water for some real training
Twickenham Unit is also an RYA Boating Station and so we laid on 2 RYA Level 2 Power Boat courses, as well as a RYA Safety Boat course for 3 of our senior cadets. A keen rowing unit, we also laid on a Rowing 'Competent Crew' course for 6 of our younger cadets, at the same time as a Rowing 'Supervised Coxswain' course for 3 of our middle-ranking cadets. Certainly, a mixed bag! It was a big effort for us volunteers but totally worth it, earning a whopping 19 qualifications for our cadets by day 7 - all RYA qualifications being nationally-recognised. A brilliant effort all round.
Ordinary Cadet Hannah, 14, said "even though, as a Ship's Company, we were apart for so long, our Unit made a huge effort to come together each week virtually. This allowed us to check up on each other, which was great, but it was no substitute for real training face-to-face, which we really missed. When this boating week was advertised, so many of us were excited and signed up straight away. It was so exciting to come back together and see one another again."
The Sea Cadet Corps' COVID requirements are necessarily stringent. We were the first Sea Cadet Unit in London to be approved for a return to face-to-face activity last September and we have maintained our robust measures ever since. Numerous cleansing stations, regular hand washing, appropriately down-scaled boats crews for social distancing, regular cleaning of equipment, and individual-specific kit have become the norm for us, helping to keep everyone safe.
With the phased return to all Cadet Forces returning to face-to-face activity keep an eye out on our website for more updates on what the units/detachments are up to, and how they are making the most of being together again!
Sea Cadets has a tangible, lasting and positive impact on young people. We see the benefits being reaped every day in our units across the UK. The difference we make to the lives of our cadets carries with them throughout all aspects of their lives.
Head to the Sea Cadet Corps website to find a unit near you, and what amazing benefits and experiences being Sea cadet can offer!