The Canadian Cadet Organization is a youth program sponsored by the Department of National Defence that is free of charge and available to all youth aged 12 to 18 who are Canadian Citizens or hold Landed Immigrant status. Each cadet corps in the organization falls into one of three categories – called elements – of training; Air Cadets, Army Cadets and Sea Cadets.
Aim of the Cadet Organization
Although each element has it’s own category specific syllabus, each element also shares a common aim. In a backgrounder compiled on June 3, 1999, titled The Canadian Cadet Organization, the Department of National Defence identifies that “The Cadet Programme develops in youth attributes of leadership, good citizenship, and physical fitness while stimulating interest in the Sea, Army and Air elements of the Canadian Forces.”
Activities Common to All Elements
Regardless of which element a cadet belongs to, all cadets follow a basic program that teaches an array of outdoor survival skills, drill and instructional techniques. Some larger units have brass or highland bands which provide the cadet opportunities to learn and develop music skills. Cadets in good standing may also have opportunities to tour points of interest in outlying communities and travel out of province. Cadets can also participate in outdoor activities.
Army Cadet Training
The army cadet syllabus focuses more on refining survival skills and knowledge, advanced drill techniques (often including ceremonial drill with non-functional small arms) and advanced instructional techniques. Army cadets who complete certain academic and summer camp requirements can compete for chances to travel across Canada or even to other countries with outstanding cadets from other regions.
Air Cadet Training
The Air Cadet Training Syllabus teaches air related skills in addition to the common basic skills. Cadets attend classes such as small engines, meteorology, air navigation and other flight related subjects. Those cadets that display strong skill and ability in these subjects will have opportunities to compete for hands-on instruction in real gliders and advance in their journey towards obtaining a private pilot’s license.
Sea Cadet Training
In addition to the common basic skills, Sea Cadets learn a variety of nautical skills in subjects specific to naval activities. Cadets who excel in their field gain opportunities to participate in international exchanges and may even obtain opportunities to tour military ships. In the past, some cadets have had opportunities to travel on retired military ships such as the HMCS Yukon.
Summer Camps and Employment Opportunities
Cadets who meet age and skill requirements are eligible to attend summer camp. The courses range anywhere from two to eight weeks in length depending upon the level of difficulty of the course. Once a cadet has reached the age of 17 and met other criteria, that cadet may apply for employment as a staff cadet at any number of Cadet Summer Training Centers across Canada.
Youth aged 12 to 18 who become a member of the Canadian Cadet Organization are provided with a wealth of opportunities to learn self-discipline, build skills and even travel. All cadet unit activities and camps are supervised and the program is fully funded by the Department of National Defence. Parents can rest easy knowing their youth are being well taken care of, learning valuable skills, and building self-confidence.