Air Cadets’ activities attracting members

Since the 908 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron was established here nearly three-and-a-half years ago, the group’s numbers have been growing.
And most say it’s because of all the different activities cadets are able to participate in.
More than 30 cadets were on hand for last Wednesday night’s weekly meeting at the Memorial Sports Centre, with OCDT Kelli Veniot noting several were absent.
She also noted many cadets had joined the squadron in the past few weeks, even one who was starting that very evening.
“We had done a presentation at some of the schools, which generated some more interest,” Veniot said.
Newcomer Sarah Pruys agreed it was the reason she joined. “People came to school and showed a video and talked about it,” said the 13-year-old. “And it looked like fun.”
She said she’s enjoyed her first few weeks, but is anxious to get involved with the various activities, such as range shooting, cross-country skiing, biathlon, fitness, music, and summer camps.
“We’re going to get to do some cool stuff,” she enthused.
Pruys was a little disappointed she wouldn’t be able to help sell poppies leading up to Remembrance Day this year because the new cadets don’t have uniforms yet (they were measured for them at last week’s meeting).
“I think I’m going to stick with it,” she said. “When you start learning it, it’s actually kind of fun.”
Tyler McNally, another new cadet, comes all the way from Rainy River for the weekly meetings. He said he joined the squadron because he might like to join the air force when he turns 18.
Like Pruys, he also is excited to participate in the other activities, aside from the drills and classes they have at the meetings.
“I can’t really tell yet if I like it,” he admitted. “But I’m going to try it for the year and see.”
McNally said he’s finding things pretty easy right now, but knows it’ll probably get tougher.
Both noted they are trying to get other kids to join, enticing them with the promise of “cool activities.”
Air cadets have the chance to participate in familiarization gliding during the year, as well as power flying (where senior cadets can earn their private pilot’s licence through the scholarship program).
There also are music programs offered and physical activities planned for the local squadron.
Summer training camps includes leadership training, music, and physical fitness, and give cadets the opportunity to visit other cities in Canada. Local training allows the cadets to learn about aviation, citizenship, sensible living, leadership, drill, and physical fitness—to name just a few.
While 2LT Kevin Elliott stressed it is always a challenge to keep kids interested, some of the senior cadets described the activities and programs as the reason they enjoy being a member of the squadron.
Sgt. Bryan Veniot attended a basic camp and rifle coaching camp, which took him out to Alberta.
“It was a great opportunity and I made some new friends,” he said, noting he likely wouldn’t have got to go to Alberta otherwise.
One thing he said he noticed was that the local training isn’t strict enough. “When I got to camp, I was kind of slacking off and I got trouble,” he recalled.
Sgt. Veniot joined the squadron because of his interest in a military career and said the summer training is a good challenge.
Cpl. Jared Anderson has played the bagpipes for nearly three years and attended a six-week military band music camp through air cadets this past summer.
“It’s a really friendly environment with no negativity,” he noted. “And it’s really rewarding.”
The 15-year-old said it was a great experience.
Upcoming activities planned for the local squadron include a sports night at the next meeting, poppy sales, Remembrance Day, and music concentration training Nov. 25-26 in Thunder Bay, which about 10 cadets are planning to attend.