The island’s youngest soldiers staged a celebration at the weekend to mark the end of their annual training camp.
The dozen Junior Leaders, a youth training scheme run by the Royal Bermuda Regiment, spent two weeks at Watford House in Sandys, where they learnt navigation, fieldcraft, took part in physical training sessions and also enjoyed adventurous training and educational trips, including swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Quest in Dockyard, kayaking, fishing and mini-golf.
Junior Leaders Lance Corporal Xanjae Minks-Savery, said he won his promotion during the training camp.
The 16-year-old from Southampton, a CedarBridge Academy pupil, added: “I learned time management, which will be useful at school, as well as survival skills.”
Danielle Trott, his mother, said: “He’s been in the Junior Leaders for about four years and I’ve noticed a difference in him. He’s matured a lot and the overall programme is helping him with his life skills.”
RBR Corporal Mackie Smith, 28, a former Junior Leader and an instructor at the camp, said: “They had a blast, especially in the field exercises.
“We took them through their paces and they grasped it really quickly.”
The 28-year-old dairy farmer from Sandys added his stint in the Junior Leaders fuelled his ambition to join the Regiment.
Cpl Smith, a section leader with the RBR’s A Company, said: “It definitely put the bit in my mouth and I enjoyed everything about it.”
RBR Captain Gordon Emmerson, who took over as Commandant of the Junior Leaders at the start of the year, said this year’s camp, which finished last Saturday, pioneered a new approach to the training of young people and that the RBR personnel involved had all undergone training and certification from child protection group Saving Children, Revealing Secrets (SCARS)
Capt. Emmerson added: “We are also looking to have an international standard for training and we’ve reintroduced survival skills training – we’re trying to get instructors from the community to show them how they can survive on the natural flora and fauna of Bermuda.
“The programme helps our young people to become more confident and comfortable in any environment.”
He said: “The kids enjoyed it and because it was a smaller programme, we had the time to focus on the individuals and made sure they got individual attention.”
Capt. Emmerson added: “We want to bring the Junior Leaders programme back into the schools system and will have more emphasis on training abroad, in Canada, the UK and the Caribbean.”
Lieutenant Colonel David Curley, the RBR Commanding Officer, said the Regiment’s recent strategic review had identified the Junior Leaders as a priority area.
He added: “We decided to make it better and stronger and we’ve done that.
Lt Col Curley said: “I want to be able to reach out to the schools, the Minister of Education and the Permanent Secretary to promote the Junior Leaders in schools and we hope to hold the camp in Canada, Barbados or the Bahamas next year.”
Lieutenant Claire Lightbourn, an RBR veteran who has been associated with the Junior Leaders for more than 15 years, said she had planned to retire this year, but would stay on for at least one more camp.
She added: “I have enjoyed it – the camp is good because if we get everything done during the day, in the evenings we can do a lot more of the adventurous training.”