This article was first published in the GCC London Newsletter. You can access it at the following link http://www.gcclondon.ca/images/June2014-GCC-Newsletter.pdf
With the school year coming to a close, and summer fast approaching, Sea, Army and Air Cadets are counting the days until summer training begins. Each year, thousands of young men and women from communities in every corner of the country travel to one of 23 Cadet Summer Training Centres (CSTC) scattered across the country to take part in a diverse array of opportunities offered by the Canadian Cadet Organization.
“Summer training opportunities are something that no person would ever be able to experience on their own,” offered Warrant Officer First Class Hannah Stewart of 10 Timmins Kiwanis Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron as she recalled her own CSTC experiences. Courses range from introductory to highly specialized and can be from two to eight weeks long depending on the developmental phase and the course of study.
“General Training in my first year was a blast but was also very helpful because I was able to explore all the amazing opportunities I could experience beyond that first summer,” explained Master Warrant Officer Devlyn Lohnes from 1944 Electrical & Mechanical Engineering Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps out of Creemore, Ont. ”There are an incredible number of different directions and training options that are available to cadets that a lot of people probably don’t realize this Program offers.”
Some courses are designed to develop skill-sets in specific areas such as music, sports and fitness, ceremonial drill functions, or marksmanship and bring together cadets from all three elements to provide training that is common across Sea, Army, and Air cadet curriculums. There also a number of courses which are unique to the three components and provide distinct opportunities for cadets to receive enhanced training in areas unique to their elemental program.
Were she a Sea Cadet, WO1 Stewart from Timmins might have specialized in driving an assortment of small boats, cruised the oceans aboard state of the art naval patrol vessels or become an expert in two-person sailboat racing. Where, as an Army Cadet, she might have spent her days refining her skills in leadership, trekking or mountain biking through the Rockies on an expedition, or leapt from an airplane on the Canadian Forces Basic Parachutist Course. Or she may have spent a summer with MWO Lohnes representing Canada at the Commonwealth Imperial Meeting international shooting competition in Bisley, England. But as an Air Cadet, it was in the cockpit that Stewart found her passion as she spent several summers learning and training to become a licensed pilot.
“I had never gotten so much of a rush in my life before,” she said of the first time she flew a glider on her own. “I was literally sitting in the cockpit shouting “This is so awesome!” the entire first solo flight because I realized that I was flying an aircraft all by myself.”
More than simply a summer getaway, each cadet summer training course has its own set of curriculum designed to not only provide fun and challenge to the cadets, but to provide them with subject matter expertise that will prove valuable to their local cadet unit upon their return. Survival Instructors teach their fellow air cadets critical skills for surviving in the field. Sail Instructors allow Sea Cadet Corps to run on-water training that would otherwise require bringing in specialists. Graduates from each course offer something unique, which in turn broadens the opportunities and experiences of all the members of their unit.
“In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime experiences and friendships that I got out of each summer, I also gained a lot of knowledge and skills that I use at the cadet corps throughout the year,” explained Lohnes. “Not only was I able to help coach our unit shooting team to multiple gold-medal finishes, but the overall leadership and teamwork development I received have supported me in my role as the RSM in charge of my cadet corps.”
Once they have progressed far enough in their own training, cadets can even return to the training centres as Staff Cadets employed to assist in the conduct of the courses. Jobs range from support work such as maintaining equipment or administration to working directly in training, passing on their expertise to a new generation of cadet trainees. The advantages of summer training go beyond the skills taught in their classes however. The challenges faced on these courses require cadets to develop their skills in problem solving, leadership, and effective communication, to name but a few. With these skills, and the self-confidence earned through hard work, these cadets become a crucial part of the smooth operation of their home unit and most other groups and organizations that they become a part of.
“I am so happy that I have had the chance to spend my summers away from home on these amazing adventures. They have changed my life forever,” concludes a confident and grateful Stewart. “The cadet summer training experiences are something that every cadet gains benefit from to not only help them progress through the Cadet Program but also through life in general.”
The Cadet Program offers experiences that Canadian youth simply cannot get anywhere else. Through this dynamic training program, cadets are motivated to improve their physical fitness, to work harder on their academic studies and to give back to their communities all the while making lasting friendships and acquiring lifelong skills that will better prepare them to become tomorrow’s leaders.