Junior Leaders are Laser Sharp

The island’s Junior Leaders marked their last training camp of the year with a weekend of battles with hi-tech laser rifles.

 The youngsters ended their year with Exercise Battle Royale – which combined fun for the festive season and their fieldcraft training over the year.

Junior Leaders Private Tyzhae DeSilva, 15, a four-year veteran of the programme, said: “I love it. I like being in the bush, working with the rifles and seeing all these people.

“This weekend, it was mostly laser tag, which was very realistic. We used them in camp and on the South Shore.”

Pte DeSilva, a Berkeley Institute pupil from Sandys, added that the Junior Leaders had “opened up opportunities for me and I want to join the Regiment when I finish here”.

Pte Thomas Attridge, 13, who joined the Junior Leaders less than a year ago, said: “We did some fitness to warm up then we did the laser tag. I enjoyed it very much.

“This was more a fun weekend because it’s the last before the Christmas holidays.”

Pte Attridge, a Saltus Grammar School pupil from St George’s, added he had no regrets about signing up for the Junior Leaders.

He explained: “It’s a bit strict sometimes, but there is a fun side to it. You learn lessons about weapons and safety and other times you have fun doing things like laser tag.”

His father Craig said that Thomas’s older brother Michael had also served in the Junior Leaders and was now at Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College in Britain, which prepares pupils for a career in the technical branches of the Armed Services and the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Attridge added Michael’s course would qualify him for direct entry to Sandhurst, the college where junior British Army officers are trained.

He said: “In terms of self-discipline, self-confidence and independence, the Junior Leaders makes a difference.

“Thomas also has to work in a team and learn teamwork, which a useful skill.”

Pte Mareicho Martin, 15, from Sandys and a pupil at CedarBridge Academy, said: “I’m tired and thirsty, but I’ve enjoyed it.

“The laser tag was the best – that’s the first time I’ve done that.”

Pte Martin added the Junior Leaders had also helped him improve his physical fitness.

He said: “I can do more push ups now than I could do before. It’s helped my self-confidence as well.”

Captain Gordon Emmerson, the Officer Commanding the Junior Leaders and a qualified teacher, added: “The weekend was fun, but it locked down previous training on section and personal fieldcraft and used laser tag to help bring some excitement and fun to our training objectives.”

He added that parents and Royal Bermuda Regiment instructors had also taken part in the laser tag against the youngsters – and found they had bitten off more than they could chew.

Capt. Emmerson said: “The Junior Leaders won – they mopped up the parents and the staff.”

He added: “We are very supportive of them if they want to look at different military higher education opportunities, as well as at universities and colleges abroad.

“We are happy to write letters of recommendation and promote opportunities to them and we will try and take that further in the future.”