It is believed that exposure to a wide variety of activities and skills can help teens become competent adults.
And there is a free program in Golden that offers just that. Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps 3066 (Lord Strathcona’s Horse) cadets meet every week during the school year.
The federally sponsored program is open to youths from the ages of 12 to 19 and offers challenging and rewarding activities that build character, says squadron Commanding Officer Navneet Rondeau.
Rondeau says cadets learn many basic skills, including drill, marksmanship, wilderness survival skills, orienteering, biathlon, physical fitness, leadership, citizenship and public speaking.
Cadets also learn the importance of dress and deportment, keeping their quarters tidy, performing community service and studying the history of the cadet program in Canada.
“Cadets learn discipline, structure and citizenship, and develop an interest in fitness,” says Rondeau, noting that the squadron is affiliated with Lord Stratchona’s Horse in Edmonton, a regular armoured regiment of the Canadian Army. “Cadets are not part of the Canadian Forces, nor is there any expectation for them to join the military. It might develop their interest, but it’s not a vehicle to put them in the Army.”
As the daughter of a man who served in the Indian Army, Rondeau grew up on bases across that nation. She arrived in Canada and married in 1986 and in 2000 when her daughter was 12, Rondeau had the opportunity to open a cadet corps.
While her daughter stayed with the program for only a few years, her son, 16-year-old Seth, is the squadron’s warrant officer and seems to have a strong interest in continuing in the military.
“I hope one of the kids goes to RMC,” says Rondeau of the prestigious Royal Military College of Canada located in Kingston, Ontario and Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMC Saint-Jean) in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. “There is tough competition to get in and we have two cadets who went there. Where else could you go to get a free education?”
Rondeau emphasizes that the cadet program is also free and includes uniforms and all activities. There are currently 18 cadets on strength, three officers in uniform and two civilian instructors.
“One of my officers, Jay Williams, was one of my fist cadets and is now second in command,” says Rondeau with pride.
Registration is always open and the squadron meets from 5:45 to 8:15 p.m. Tuesdays in the Alexander Park Elementary School Gym.