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Ladysmith Cadets Celebrate 75 Years of Service, Education and Fun!

Nov 6, 2018, 09:42 AM by Our Ladysmith

Self-confidence. Self-discipline. Leadership.  These are the core values that the Ladysmith Air Cadet 257 Squadron has maintained for the past 75 years. As the longest running youth program in Ladysmith, the Cadet program provides something for everyone, including flight training, gliding, and flight simulator training, but also non-flight related activities such as survival camping, effective speaking, first aid training and sports. It is also affordable at $100 for the full year, with the fee waived for families facing financial hardship. 15 year old Samantha Barney and her 13 year old sister, Cathryn, both agree that being a Cadet is fun and rewarding.

Cadets 2018 - Girls
above (l-r): Cathryn Barney, Megan Randle, Samantha Barney

"I've made so many friends and had such a great time at the summer camps I've attended. Everyone is always super friendly and welcoming," says Samantha. "Being a Cadet has also made me much more confident in my leadership abilities which will help me in the future."

Cathryn says that her camping and survival training has provided her with some useful skills. "I really encourage people to join Cadets as soon as possible. The sooner you join, the more opportunities you have to learn and develop all kinds of important life skills."

Samantha and Cathryn have been Cadets for 4 and 2 years respectively. As Cadets, they will have opportunities to join their squadron on away trips that include rock climbing and orienteering training. They can also qualify for 2-6 week summer training camp opportunities held in BC and out of the province that focus on a variety of interests such as leadership, survival, music, flight training, airport and aerospace technology, and fitness instruction. Cadets can also apply for summer employment as Staff Cadets. Lifelong friendships are often forged, and Cadets return to their squadron with new skills and an array of unique experiences to share.  

"After a short period of time, new Cadets will start to get the hang of things, participate in the many activities we offer, and bring in friends and younger siblings to join up. Most will leave the program with a keen understanding of commitment, responsibility, leadership and community awareness," says Cathy Gilroy, Chair of the Ladysmith Squadron Sponsoring Committee.  "I always comment that when a Cadet "ages out" at age 19, they are the pride of their Squadron and their community."

Cadets Squadron photo 1943-44 edit
above: Ladysmith Air Cadets Squadron No. 257, 1943-1944

Offered at historic Aggie Hall every Tuesday evening from September to June, with optional training activities held Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the Cadets program is aimed at youth participants aged 12-18 who are keen to meet other kids, have fun, and learn about a variety of interesting subjects in a structured environment. Officers, uniforms, training materials and all activities are fully supported by the Department of National Defence and the local Sponsoring Committee, with the program also receiving tremendous support from the Town of Ladysmith and service organizations.

Cadets 1950-1951 - Girls edit
above: Ladysmith Girl Cadets, 1950-1951

"Cadets can qualify for high school credits, and much of what they do as Cadets is so helpful in building high school portfolios and generating impressive employment resumes," says Gilroy. "Many former Cadets have become successful in business, politics and the Canadian Forces. As well, Cadets have continued to support our community through volunteering for poppy distribution, assisting with the Legion Veterans Dinner, Take Down the Lights and other activities."

Gilroy says it is important to note that there is no expectation for Cadets to join the armed forces. Cadets will learn about the Canadian Armed Forces as part of their Citizenship Training, along with other areas of study such as Democracy and the Canadian Bill of Rights, however being a Cadet in no way ensures success when applying to the Canadian Armed Forces and there is no recruitment program at the Cadet level.

To learn more, email ladysmithaircadets@yahoo.ca or Captain Karen Peel, C.D., Commanding Officer karen.peel@cadets.gc.ca, call Cathy Gilroy 250-245-8119 and follow the Ladysmith Cadets on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/257parallelsquadron/

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