By S. L. Furedi
The Elk Valley Air Cadets are back from summer camp and ready to start a new year of exciting activities.
Unlike many teen sports or groups, this one comes at little cost to parents, says Captain Murray Clow.
“Uniforms are provided, trips and camp-outs are free and there’s a lot of great opportunities for those who join up,” he said.
First aid, drill, range, band and gliding are some of the many skills teens can learn in the cadets, said Clow. They also focus on community involvement, civic responsibility and leadership skills. As part of their activities, cadets take tours of museums and air force and military bases and fun nights include swimming and bowling parties or sports nights.
“This is not a pre-enlistment program for the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Clow. “In fact, only one per cent of cadets go on to join the regular forces. This is a great way for teens to learn skills and enjoy activities they would never ordinarily get the chance to be involved in.”
The cadets are seen at many community events throughout the year, including cenotaph duty and parade for Remembrance Day ceremonies, helping with Canada Day, and riding the legion float in the Coal Miner Days parade.
Their distinctive blue uniforms, and obvious pride in these activities, make them very visible in the community, said Clow.
“They’re a great group of young people. And it’s amazing how we see them grow, through cadets, to becoming young adults anyone would be proud of.”
Through the cadet corps, teens can go to cadet camps during the summer and be paid for their attendance. Also, cadet officer training and experience count towards high school credits.
Ben Doratty, a sergeant with the Elk Valley squadron, attended Advanced Aviation at the Royal Gliding School (Pacific) at the Canadian Forces base in Comox.
“The course I attended was a senior camp for cadets with an interest in aviation that was three weeks long,” he said. “At Comox, we learned Ground School; that teaches things such as theory of flight, meteorology, navigation etc. We took tours of the active forces squadrons and buildings that are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
“One of the most important things of this camp was not the friends, or the pay cheques, but the knowledge I learned that will hopefully send me to the glider scholarship next year. Overall it was a great course and a great summer.”
Sgt. Matthew Wasiewicz spent two weeks in Cold Lake at Survival Instructor Camp.
“Going to camp is a worthwhile experience every year,” he said, even “skinning the rabbits was a great experience in both learning and training.”
Enrolment in cadets is open to anyone ages 12 to 18 in Fernie, Hosmer, Sparwood or Elkford. Meetings are Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sparwood Eagles Hall. For more information contact Clow at 250-425-6448, or Parent Sponsoring Committee Chair Yvette Doratty at 250-425-9443.