By Cadet Mackay
From the 7th of February till the 22nd of March I was staying with my mum's side of the family in Germany in order to improve my German speaking. For two weeks I stayed in Werl, Dortmund, with my grandparents and the other four weeks in Steinhagen, Bielefeld with my aunt, uncle and two cousins.
Before I left for Germany, my father and I spent some time searching for an air cadet squadron near to Bielefeld. After finding a squadron in Gutersloh, I asked my 'boss' at 2425 ATC Squadron, Flt. Lt. Frost, for his advice. He was extremely helpful to arrange for me to take part with the air cadets at Gutersloh which I really appreciated.
On the first evening, 28th of February my aunt dropped me off at the main gates of the Princess Royal Barracks. Sergeant Major White came and took me to the squadron building. There I met some of the cadets who had come on the cadet bus which takes the cadets from their homes in and around Bielefeld to the cadet building. That evening I did a mock test on basic navigation with a group of cadets. I did not have the chance to get to know the other cadets that night. I was driven, at the end of the evening, to the main gates and waited until my aunt picked me up again.
I really enjoyed myself and looked forward to the next five parade nights. On the 4th of March I talked with the other cadets, who I did not meet on the last parade night. They are a very friendly bunch and I did not feel left out at all. I passed my proper basic navigation exam on the 7th of March. On the 11th of March I shot an air rifle for the first time ever. It was such fun. When the boss at 4os squadron, Flt. Lt. Constable saw my shooting target he was impressed and I am very proud of it. My aim is now to hit the bulls-eye. On the 14th of March I handled a real gun and was taught the safety procedures before firing the gun.
On my last night, March the 18th all the cadets were shown how to look after your greens uniform, how to clean your boots and iron your shirt and trousers. Every parade night the cadets and I would do at least 10-20 minutes drill to start off the evening before getting on with the activities and at the end, we would quickly clean the building. The staff and cadets made my experience wonderful, but they were not the only people. The guards at the main gates would always stop the first cadet bus for me when it arrived so that I could jump on and travel with the first group of cadets to the squadron building which made it a lot easier for me and definitely less stressful for the staff and my aunt knowing I would arrive safely on the bus and not have to be picked.
Taking part with the cadets in Germany was a wonderful and memorable experience and a great opportunity to make new acquaintances and meet friendly people. If I was ever given a similar chance again I would definitely take it and I would recommend to all cadets take other opportunities like this as they don't come often.