Watching his older sister’s adventures in cadets inspired Master Cpl. Jordan Harper to follow in her footsteps.
Sgt. Olivia Harper joined the 2887 Rocky Mountain Rangers Royal Canadian Army Cadets three years ago after Captain Shawn Dolmage made a presentation at her school. She said it sounded like a lot of fun.
“It’s definitely different than what I was used to,” she said. “Drills, marching, ironing your uniform - a change but pretty good.”
There are a lot of benefits to being in cadets. “Learning communication skills, survival skills, all quite important,” Olivia said.
When Jordan joined last September meetings were at first held online. In-person is much better, he said, adding that this year he wants to reach the rank of sergeant.
One of the things he is looking forward to is practicing shooting again.
Olivia said they use paper targets and her brother is quite the shooter.
The cadet program is not training them to be soldiers but rather trying to make them into responsible adults, said their commanding officer, Tabitha Fournier. Most cadets who go on to the military already want to join and joining cadets is a stepping stone.
Fournier joined cadets in 100 Mile House in 2007 and never left.
“I loved it here and just couldn’t get enough of it and when I started to age out at 19 I was sad that I was leaving. This is my family, this is what I love to do.” When she found out she could become an officer she said “How do I sign up?”
The army cadet program is free including the summer camps. Cadets are paid and all food and lodging is covered.
Expeditions are for cadets aged 16 and up. There are other factors besides age to be considered as an expedition candidate, like higher fitness levels, said Fournier.
These trips are a great experience. One cadet travelled to the Cayman Islands. The trip was free and the cadet earned her scuba diving certificate. Another went to Scotland.
Activities this year include four weekends of learning navigation, putting up half shelters, bell tents, improvising shelters and eating MREs (meals ready to eat).
Cpl. Carter Finlayson is starting his second year in cadets. It took him about three months before he felt he knew what he was doing, he said.
“I was confused, I didn’t know what I was doing. Then, you kind of figure out what to do - the moment you get how to do cadets.”
Finlayson said he attended camp in Vernon this summer.
“It was like being in cadets but spending the night and being in a different place,” he said. “One of my favourite parts is having MREs. 100 per cent. They’re really good - beef ravioli.”
He is looking forward to ranking up a bit more this year.
“Goal is to reach sergeant. Hopefully I make it.”
“I think it is such a welcoming environment. We do not discriminate against anything, bullying is not a thing here. We want to be a group of people you can depend on and be able to have fun and learn things you don’t learn anywhere else,” said Fournier.
Youth aged 12 to 18 interested in cadets are invited to come to the training centre at 5833 Horse Lake Rd. from 6:30-9 p.m. Thursdays to see what it is like.