Ben tells of a gruelling week in the military

I have recently taken part in an Army selection event to join The Band of the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment: an intensive three-day residential course, designed to rigorously access your overall capabilities and potential for a career in the Army.

I arrived at the assessment centre by bus with the other recruits (40-50 in total), and as we stepped into the rather foreboding looking complex, we soon learnt that there was no escape from the wrath of the Staff Sergeant! It was a case of either switching on, or getting sent home. Every order had to be followed exactly to the way it was told. Even if that meant sitting down in a certain way or even waking up in a orderly fashion (particularly hard at 5:30am, having had little sleep due to fellow candidates’ snoring in the shared accommodation!) If it helps to explain, it was reminiscent of the film, ‘An Officer and A Gentlemen’.

My initial thoughts were along the lines of, ‘Why on earth am I here when I’m only supposed to be joining an army reserve band?!’ There were recruits who intended to join the military full time, including some who wanted to join the Parachute regiment, who began to boast about their 1.5 mile run times (the ‘Paras’ pride themselves on being the nation’s fittest regiment). However, I too soon grew to the strict and disciplined way of doing things, and took the planned tasks into my own hands. These included; an Icebreaker (standing up and talking about yourself for 3 minutes to all of the recruits), medical tests, psychometric tests, a grenade throw (awesome!), team tasks and physical tests. Overall, I performed to the best of my ability, and did not concern myself with any bad thoughts, only those of what I wanted to achieve.

In the end I passed with the top grade that can be achieved, showing leadership potential in the team tasks and scoring well overall. Even though I was particularly happy after coming first in the 1.5 miler (I could tell those Paras were fairly annoyed!) we retained our sense of camaraderie throughout the course.

What I learnt most from this event was that challenges, although most of the time daunting, allow us to test ourselves and give us the potential to grow when we give our best in order to succeed. I intend to continue to set myself new and more interesting challenges throughout my life so that I can continue to grow and enrich myself with experience. Scout’s promise – to always do my best!