Every Wednesday evening about 42 Royal Westminster Regiment Army Cadets parade at the Aldergrove Naval Radio Station’s gymnasium.
The cadets participate in a wide range of activities and programs, all of which are provided free of charge to the participants. Indeed, as they progress the cadets are also able to take part in expeditions near and far, some of which even pay remuneration to the senior cadets.
It’s a rewarding program that also builds character and valuable skillsets, as the new Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Turner, attests from his personal experience.
Captain Turner started out as a Navy League Cadet at age 10, moved through Air and Army Cadets, before joining the Canadian military at age 17. After five years service with the military, Captain Turner spent the last 13 years in law enforcement, and currently serves with the Canadian Pacific Police.
“I owe my life to the cadets,” Captain Turner told The Aldergrove Star. “Cadets prevented me from going down the wrong path and turned my life around.”
To repay this debt he is currently serving as the Commanding Officer of the local Army Cadets Corp, and he’s also spreading the word to as many young people he can about the opportunities provided to cadets.
To this end he spent Tuesday morning speaking to four classes at Betty Gilbert Middle School, about 80 students, about the cadet program. He was accompanied by three Army Cadets, Warrant Officer McDonaugh and Sergeant McCallum — both of whom are high school students in Abbotsford — and Cadet Long, a student at Aldergrove’s Betty Gilbert School.
Captain Turner stressed that all of the equipment, materials and even expeditions abroad to places such as Europe, are provided free of any charge to all cadets. Activities are also free of charge and range a full gamut of camping, hiking, swimming, canoeing, whitewater rafting, marksmanship and much more.
He also impressed upon the students that there is no expectation whatsoever that cadets should join the military on completion of the cadet program at age 18.
In addition, participation in the cadet program earns four credits towards a high school diploma.
WO McDonaugh told the students that over the four years he’s been with the cadet program he’s enjoyed the courses offered, some of which have compensated him $350 for a six-week stint. He noted that those who make it to Vernon cadet camp can make as much as $3,000 to $7,000 for seven weeks work.
Sgt. McCallum said he enjoys being part of the flag company that parades each week, as well as the camping trips to the Okanagan and Alouette Lake.
“We hiked and camped on top of the mountain,” said Sgt. McCallum. “That beats my days of beng stuck on video games.”
Cadet Long said her favourite was “building a shelter and learning life and survival skills.”
Captain Turner said interested students can drop in at the Canada Forces Station in Aldergrove, 3900 – 272 St., on Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 9 p.m., and after signing in at the guard house they can sign up with the cadets at the gymnasium. A birth certificate and Care card is required.
Youths can also check out the website www.joincadets.ca or call 778-9820-9731 and leave a message.