Since 1860, schools have offered their students the option of joining the corps; some 210 out of the 260 schools are independent; most make participation voluntary rather than compulsory, nowadays. Once known as the Officer Training Corps, the schools based organisation combined with sea cadets and air training corps, and consequently changing its name, in 1948. More than 40,000 cadets participate around the country across all three contingents, occasionally with marines added in too - at Freemen’s we stick with army and air force, though that is a Government funding decision rather than a preference.
The corps as we see it today is quite different from the early public school models who fed into the armed forces. As the CCF website
puts it, they are ‘still based on the ethos of the Armed Forces - their focus is on helping young people to develop and reach their full potential by providing challenging, active, adventurous and fun activities.’ There’s a whole range of different activities
on offer, it’s not just the marching in baggy uniforms and hurling oneself off a cliff that a certain Mr Clarkson remembered in his Collected Times columns, The World According to Jeremy Clarkson
. Now, the 'adventure’ aspect is most celebrated; indeed the CCF itself is running a photography
competition for its members, around just that theme (closing date October, if you’re interested, corps members).
The CCF works in partnership with the MOD, in schools, and as their website
puts it, the CCF offers 'unparalleled opportunities … in terms of team-building, leadership, citizenship’,