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Army cadets providing options for youth, display excellence at annual review
 
Jamie Tarrant
The Labradorian

28 May 2007

“It is about creating leaders in the community and watching them reach they’re full potential,” says Commanding Officer Joan Harvey of 5-Wing’s 2945 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

At their 32nd Annual Ceremonial Review over the long weekend, parents, guests and friends were treated to drill formations, first aid and physical training demonstrations, all aimed at displaying the determination, will power and poise it takes to be a army cadet.

Mrs. Harvey has earned some of these attributes. She was enrolled in the local cadets squadron as a youth, and for the past six years served as Commanding Officer.

“I think this is a very good program. I moved back to this area about ten years ago. I always said when I settled down that I would get involved, and volunteer with the program,” explains Mrs. Harvey.

The 2945 Royal Army Cadet Corps formed in 1975, and was originally sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, but since 2004 the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary have taken over the duties.

The goal of the corps has always focused on fulfilling a growing need for youth programs by stressing leadership and citizenship training. Many youth have benefited from this program over the years.

One of these is 18-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Pittman.

During a stellar performance leading the drill team last Saturday, he takes great pride in the responsibility he gains from teaching, and training new cadets.

He joined the cadets when he was only 12. The next steps for Mr. Pittman is applying the education he learned in the cadets to help further his career.

“I’m planning on going into the RCMP. I think the training I received will help a lot,” says Mr. Pittman

There is no doubt that he will be successful.

A couple of years ago he won top cadet in Canada, which is significant considering that he beat out 1,400 others to earn the honor.

Physical training is a big part of the cadet program. Every Wednesday night the gym in building 275 is booked where kids run, practice sit ups and long jumps all aimed at developing agility and endurance.

There are other skills training programs where kids compete provincially. Some of these include orienteering, which teach kids how to use a map and compass, as well as shooting, drills, biathlon teams, and provincial speak offs. They also get to enhance their skills during summer camps held every year in New Brunswick.

Not all cadets get a chance to attend. When commanding officers know which programs are offered during the summer cadets are picked based on their grading of physical performances they participate in during the year.

In actuality the cadets who stay behind are the ones who benefit the most from these programs according to Mrs. Harvey.

“When the senior cadets go away and get trained they bring all these skills back to the core level. It pays off for them, us and for the cadets coming in,” she contends.

Over the years, the biggest challenge for Mrs. Harvey is keeping the interest up during the year.

“We were parading about 45 right up until two months ago. The last month the numbers dropped right off. It happens every year, but this is the lowest it has ever gotten down,” explains Co Harvey

She rationalizes that parents don’t often force their kids to stay with the program compared to when she attended.

Having to make time for schoolwork, cadets and other extra curricular activities he was involved in was not always easy for Mr.

Pittman.

“It can be stressful sometimes when you have a school project due on Thursday and you have cadets on a Wednesday night. Normally it is not too bad because there really isn't a whole lot of time that cadets take up,” he says.

The most important thing Mrs. Harvey wants people to realize is the leadership skills, and self esteem children can learn though cadets gives them options, not only for the Canadian Forces, but also prepares them for life in general.

When she has to say goodbye to a cadet who has matured though their program, the experience is bitter sweet for Mrs. Harvey.

“I feel good, but a little bit sad. I look at them and they’re going into the military, or university. I’m glad that they stayed with the program as long as they did. I know that their training will stay with the forever."

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