By Ava Durrell
Seven weeks can be a long time away from home when you’re a teenager. Being responsible for 1,500 others while you’re away can make those seven weeks seem even longer. But for many youths from all over Northwest Canada, Vernon was their home this past summer, many for over two weeks.
The Vernon Cadet Training Centre housed almost 1,500 youth from all over Northwest Canada this summer, offering courses two, three, six, or seven weeks long. The courses themselves were also varied, from the drill and ceremonial courses to expedition, to military band and marksmanship. These courses allow cadets from all three elements (Army, Sea, and Air) to expand their cadet skills and leadership abilities through challenging and fun activities, and make friends that will last a lifetime. For some of the youths attending, this summer was their first extended time away from home, and proved to be a challenge in itself.
This year’s regimental sergeant major was cadet warrant officer first class Cailyn Wilcox. And she was a history-maker: Being the first female in 15 years and the first ever air cadet to lead the camp, Wilcox made a huge impact on how the summer will be led in future years. Wilcox would highly recommend the Vernon Cadet Training Centre, saying that what she went through was something she will always remember.
“Through the constant heat and fun challenges, the goal to achieving success and excellence was complete. With the command team of 2017, it was truly a tri-elemental camp. The alpha company sergeant major as an air cadet, our first sea and air cadets staffing the army expedition instructor course, and the first ever air cadet regimental sergeant major. Five out of the nine senior appointments were female, and hopefully many will return. Vernon Cadet Training Centre’s 2017 summer was filled with many exciting events ranging from the battalion sports day to visits from dignitaries such as the Minister of National Defence.”
During this summer’s training year at VCTC, federal minster Harjit Sajjan visited the camp and met with the staff cadet command team for VCTC. His address to the command team was inspirational, reminding the young adults that they’re the future leaders of the country, and that the Canadian Cadet Organization is unlike any other youth organization in Canada.
One of the members of VCTC’s command team this past summer was cadet master warrant officer Jonas Bystrom, the echo (expedition) company sergeant major. This summer for him, he said, was fantastic, adding, “[it] was such a rewarding experience to lead a company and see them build as a team through the summer.”
The Canadian Cadet Organization is a free youth program, for ages 12 to 18 that promotes leadership, physical fitness, and an interest in the Canadian Military. Cadets involved get the chance to go on expeditions, partake in marksmanship and band clinics and competitions; they can learn first aid, expand their public speaking skills, and develop other skills complimentary for growing up into the next leaders of Canada.
Those interested in getting involved with a local corps or squadron can find information at www.cadets.ca.
Ava Durrell is a KSS student and Capital News student reporter. This summer she attended the VCTC and was appointed the drill sergeant major responsible for the drill, dress, and deportment of the camp.