Each year cadets are invited to attend a selection weekend to be successful in gaining a place on the Junior Leaders Course. This year 4 cadets from Thames Valley wing took part in the selection process at Bodney Camp and cadet FS J Taylor tells us what was involved during the weekend. This opportunity is offered out each year so make sure you keep an eye out and apply.
“Having heard some worrying tales about it, I had apprehensions on the four-hour train journey to Thetford and was relieved to see what I assumed was the rest of the course waiting outside the station when I arrived; at least I knew I was at the right place.
We boarded a coach to Bodney Camp, part of the much larger STANTA training area, and upon arrival we were told where to drop our bags and then to report to the Sgt’s mess for a brief on the weekends activities. We were given five minutes to complete all that, so that was the first time we had to run, it then became standard procedure on how to travel around the camp.
Once in the brief we were told about the expectations they had, and how we needed to commit to this weekend if we wanted to stay. Then we were given a course overview ranging from the first weekend, to the test phase. Afterwards we went to a classroom and were introduced to our Section Instructors. Having just completed Sandhurst Officer training, our SI was particularly awe-inspiring and we were attentive, whilst he asked us about our ambitions and worries, checked our details and answered any questions we had. At around eleven we headed to our accommodation, where we swiftly got our heads down and started to worry about the fitness test in only eight hours’ time.”
“As a thick layer of mist rolled away from the ground we would soon be running over, we doubled to the parade ground where the course Warrant Officer was waiting. From there we were taken on a 1.5 mile run around the camp, to show us the expected route, and then we were given one minutes rest and we were off. The expected time of completion was under 11 minutes and 11 seconds. I think I speak for everyone when I say that was worrying. Although I am unsure of what time they deemed too slow, I completed it in 9 minutes 45 seconds and was well chuffed. Next were the sit-ups and press-ups, again these were difficult, but the upside was I hadn’t been binned. Now, breakfast.
Having not managed to eat much food, we were straight to our billets and into our CS95’s ready for leadership exercises. Each of us had a task to complete, where we briefed the team, and then accomplished the task whilst directing and overseeing the events. These activities ranged from building bridges, to rescuing keys and they tested our abilities to adapt and improvise on the spot.
Next we had a five minute presentation to give to our section. Unfortunately, as I was speaking about my ambition to enrol at Sandhurst, and there was an Army Officer staring back at me, I focused far too much on ensuring I was 100% accurate and I ended up two minutes short, luckily, I escaped without being binned.
We had a field craft and navigation test which went by swiftly, onto a one on one interview with our Section Instructor. The interview only lasted five minutes, although most of the time I was speaking, so it felt like another presentation. My advice for this would be that knowledge of current affairs is a great thing to have. After that we had dinner and we were given some admin time before the social in the evening, this was a chance for us to meet the Directing Staff and ask any questions we had thought of over the day. The plan had been to inform us all of our situation prior to the social, but when we arrived we were told there would be a parade at 07:30 and we would be told then if we were on the course. This meant we could spend the night worrying all about the outcome of the next day.
Sunday came and when we found out we had passed selection we were all pretty thrilled, it has to be one of the longest stints where I’ve been nervous constantly. We then went to collect our new kit and had a de-brief prior to packing up.
The selection weekend for JL was difficult, but having passed it, I am happy to say I can start the course and I hope to complete it. I would recommend it to anyone, and everyone.
One bit of advice though, prepare; both physical fitness, and if you aren’t that interested in news, just brush up on the headlines for a month, it really helps.
All in all, it wasn’t arduous, but if you haven’t prepared and you don’t have the right mind-set, you will not succeed.”
Look out for the calling notice next year and you could soon be wearing the red lanyard to show you was able to complete one of the toughest leadership courses on offer in the ATC. Can you work your way up the leadership ladder to see ‘Are you On Target’.