By Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne
‘Right wheel’ came a whisper in my ear. Not a problem with the car but the next drill command from the Sergeant Major. I had to pass it on at full volume to the Dorset Army Cadet Force. I did. ‘Same again’ he said. I nearly bellowed out ‘Same again’, but corrected myself in time and shouted, ‘Right wheel.’
On 29 July I spent a bracing morning at the Dorset Army Cadet Force annual camp, in Longmoor, Hampshire. On the parade ground, I had to dredge up memories of 1973, when I had a gap year in the army, between school and university.
I mentioned remembering two long lines of cadets, 50 yards apart, simultaneously yelling out drill commands to their paired colleagues. They grinned, for they had just experienced that exercise that morning.
I was deeply impressed by these young men and women from state schools in Dorset. Discipline, adventure, exercise, rifle practise, time in barracks and out camping and cooking in the open air, all provided skills and mental toughness which stretched them. Several talked about a possible career in the army.
What of the Church and young people? We are encouraging them to think about the adventure of discipleship. Various youth camps, with diverse traditions, take place each summer at Lee Abbey, Soul Survivor, Walsingham, Hilfield and Taize. Archbishop Justin attended Walsingham last year, and Soul Survivor this year. He answered questions and challenged the young people to hear God’s call for their future, in discipleship, mission and the priesthood.
Let’s pray for young people in schools, uniformed organisations, open youth clubs, and church youth groups for God’s future to be opened up for them.
Take a look at this video of Dorset Army Cadets on YouTube.