NANAIMO — The longest-running Air Cadet program in Canada has vaulted the lives of tens of thousands of young people.
205 Collishaw Royal Canadian Air Cadets Nanaimo (RCAC) screening officer Renato Anacleto said every year about 80 youths aged 12 to 18 are enroled in the program. He said each cadet has their own responsibilities within the program, based on their age and skill sets, while also learning about how to fly, musical, biathlon and survival skills.
He said many people don't know Air Cadet members can apply for their pilot and gliding licenses through scholarships, which cover 100 per cent of the costs.
“It's incredible,” Anacleto said. “That's why a huge number of pilots right now in Canada, if I'm not mistaken somewhere around 60 to 70 per cent, have been in the Air Cadet program.”
Anecleto said the Department of National Defence covers most costs to be a cadet, noting the only hard cost is about $150 a year for insurance.
He stressed the cadet are a leadership program, not a military organization.
Anecleto, whose daughter is a local cadet, said the 76-year-old Nanaimo chapter reinforces responsibility and leadership for squadron members.
He said recently retired Capt. Roy Herrington put a lasting positive stamp on the local program.
“In these two years he had a profound impact with my daughter and myself, he's an amazing professional and an incredible officer.”
Anecleto said Herrington's legendary service to RCAC started when he joined as a cadet in 1966, and later became an officer in the early 1970s.
Herrington guided the Nanaimo Cadets until retiring in April.
Warrant officer first class Leo Shin said he matured immensely under Capt. Herrington's guidance, which will help him for the rest of his life.
Shin said he gained numerous valuable "real life" skills that set him up well for the future as a result of being a cadet since the age of 12.
The 18-year-old soon-to-be Dover Bay Secondary graduate plans to pursue a carear in business.
“The values the program instills on youth are so impactful and meaningful,” Shin said.
He said being a cadet is much more than marching and ensuring your uniform is clean.
“The core part that has developed me the most is the leadership aspect,” Shin told NanaimoNewsNOW. “You get to see the development it has on youth as leaders.”
More information on RCAC is available online.
- Note to readers. The Nanaimo Air Cadets are actively seeking a band instructor. Those interested are asked to contact the organization: 250-754-0076, or [email protected]
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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