The MoD has been censured over failings that led to the death in August 2007 of Kaylee McIntosh, from Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, when the boat she was in capsized on Loch Carnan in South Uist in bad weather.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe found a series of failings by Major George McCallum, leading the boating trip, were compounded by systemic organisational failings by MoD Army. A Fatal Accident Inquiry had also previously established a catalogue of errors.
McCallum was fined £5000 in November at Inverness Sheriff Court. General Sir Nick Parker attended the Crown Censure meeting and accepted the findings on behalf of the MoD.
He said "We recognise the failings by the army and, once again, we apologise unreservedly for how they contributed to Kaylee's death."
However, the MoD cannot face prosecution because of Crown immunity. Crown Censures are agreed procedures in lieu of criminal proceedings.
HSE's director for Scotland and Northern England, David Snowball, said the evidence uncovered would have been sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of the MoD in civilian courts.
In a statement, Kaylee's parents, Derek and Leslie, said: "We've been let down by a Criminal Justice System we thought we could put our trust in."
They said the censure was "just window dressing", and added: "The army are effectively being given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. That's not justice for Kaylee."
They said there should be independent regulation of cadet forces and the lifting of Crown immunity. They added: "It seems to us until that's done children going to camps like Kaylee attended are no safer than she was five and a half years ago."