What is the first thing that springs to mind when you think about volunteering? Many people associate volunteering with charity shop work or taking part in fundraisers; however, there are numerous volunteering opportunities out there which go against the grain and provide you with a completely different volunteering experience. The Army Cadet Force is one such organisation, but what exactly is so different about volunteering with the ACF?
The sheer volume and range of activities that ACF volunteers can become involved with is definitely one of the ways in which the ACF stands out from other volunteering opportunities. As an adult volunteer you will be expected to assist cadets to undertake a number of challenges. This can range from sports to community projects and, most excitingly for outdoorsy types, assisting with cadet adventure training. The latter means you will have the opportunity to take part in sports such as abseiling, kayaking, mountain biking, white water rafting and skiing. There may even be opportunities to travel abroad with cadets and there is an annual camp which is a great way to spend a week doing activities you wouldn’t do in day-to-day life. Whilst the activity might be completely different, the purpose of volunteering is the same: to help others. The activities on offer to cadets allow them to have experiences they never thought were possible and it also has the additional benefit of providing an exciting extracurricular activity for yourself.
Another unique aspect of volunteering for the Army Cadet Force is the opportunity to move up the ranks or even to become a commissioned officer. The purpose of volunteering can be a cause for contention as some people believe that volunteering should be altruistic in intent and not for personal gain. However there’s no doubt that moving up the ranks as a volunteer in the Army Cadets can give you a noticeable sense of progression as a volunteer. Volunteers start out as Probationary Instructors, which means you would be placed with a more experienced instructor in a detachment (typically with around 30 cadets) in your local area. With more experience you could progress from Sergeant Instructor, Staff Sergeant Instructor to Sergeant Major Instructor, and on to Regimental Sergeant Major Instructor. The ACF’s top ranking volunteers take on many responsibilities and have proven their commitment and exceptional knowledge of the ACF. Having additional knowledge, skills and interests is a huge positive when it comes to interviewing for jobs.
Whilst there is an obvious military theme running through the makeup of the Army Cadet Force, the goals and practices of the ACF aren’t as black and white as they may seem. One commonly held belief about the ACF is that it is purely for people affiliated with or looking to become involved with the armed forces. In actual fact, the Army Cadet Force is not part of the Army, requires no military experience from its volunteers nor is there a push for volunteers or cadets to join any of the armed forces organisations. As one of the UK’s largest voluntary youth organisations the Army Cadet Force focuses on providing fun, action, friendship and support; giving young people from every walk of life the opportunity to challenge their limits, grow their abilities and go further in life.
Volunteering can be an incredibly exciting experience. In addition to opportunities with the Army Cadet Force, there are plenty of volunteering projects that can offer you something different to the standard volunteering experience. For example, the “Just People” scheme enables you to volunteer with prisoners, helping rehabilitate offenders and teach them new skills; while eco projects and zoo volunteering gives people an opportunity to interact with wildlife in a completely new way and even get up close with exotic animals. With so wide a range of activities available to volunteers, why not look into volunteering schemes near you to see what out of the norm pursuits you can do, all in aid of the causes you care about.