Hands on learning: Cadets ditch their cell phones for camp at 14 Wing Greenwood

Nancy Kelly nkelly@kingscountynews.ca
Published on August 6, 2014

At any time during the summer of 2014, more than 530 cadets will call the Greenwood Air Cadet Summer Training Centre home.

Over seven weeks, a total of 1,100 cadets, taking part in the many summer opportunities the Air Cadet program has to offer, will pass through the gates of 14 Wing Greenwood. They will spend two, three or six weeks there, depending on their age and program level.

Course offerings focus on general military training, drill and ceremonial training, music training, fitness training, marksmanship, survival skills, technology and aerospace and aviation training.

Summer cadet school programming expands on the yearly training made available through the cadet program, explained Cpl. Jessica Reynolds. The New Brunswick native, now posted at 14 Wing, jump-started her military career as a cadet and remains involved with the program outside her day job as an imaging technician.

To organize the lives of upwards of 500 youth at one time, takes many hands, points out Reynolds.

“It takes 81 adult cadet instructors, 31 civilian instructors and 13 military members for this summer camp to run.”

Drake Logan, a recent graduate of West Kings High School, transitioned to the role of staff cadet this summer after attending cadet camp for five years.

“My job is to keep the kids safe, help them complete their training and manage their day-to-day issues on a 24/7 basis,” explained Logan. This can include dealing with bouts of homesickness among cadets and boosting their confidence to help them achieve their goals.


Learning curve

While at 14 Wing, cadets are housed in groups of four in one of the 13, 12-room cabins.

“As part of their general training, they learn to make a bed, and take care of their uniform and their living space,” said Capt. Deanna Caines, who returns to camp in Greenwood from her home in Newfoundland each summer as the duty officer in the cadet residence.

“There is a definite learning curve for the kids,” said Caines, who was a cadet herself and understands first hand the bonds that are forged among the residents.

“Some are homesick and cry when they first get here. But eventually, they cry because they don’t want to leave their friends.”

Cadets do get some free time at the end of the each day. That’s when they can access cell phones and other hand held technology, but only in designated areas. That can be an adjustment for some cadets, says Caines.

“Some are dependent on it, but they get used to it,” she said of the protocols for cell phone and video game use. “It keeps it more social here.”


Camaraderie among cadets

Jessica Jalbert, a 15-year-old cadet from Charlot, New Brunswick, enjoys the camaraderie that is part and parcel of camp, including residence. 

“I don’t have any sisters, so my roommates become like family.”

Jalbert will spend six weeks at the Greenwood training site this year, enrolled in the fitness and sports instructor course as a member of Otter flight. She has found her time challenging and looks forward to taking what she is learning back to her home squadron in Dalhousie, N.B.

“Cadet camp is very rewarding. I am meeting new people and doing different things everyday. I am always learning.”

Owen Richard, 15, of Moncton, one day hopes to fly jets. His second experience at camp, this year as a participant in the three-week outdoor survival course, has challenged him to learn new skills and to get better in social conditions.

“I enjoy the outdoors and now I am learning how to survive outdoors,” he said.


Hands-on experience

Participants in the outdoor survival course spend half their time living in tents and learning at a camp at Cloud Lake and the other half on base, taking courses and staying in residence. While at the lake, they will get hands-on experience in building shelters, recognizing species of plants and animals, water collection and building camp tools, such as hammers and fishing hooks, from scratch.

Regardless of the nature or length of program, all cadets have one thing in common. They move together from place to place as a unit.

“Yes, the marching never stops,” laughs Reynolds, who says having 500 kids on the move at any given time can cause frequent traffic jams on the base.

“From their parade every morning, to morning PT, to training sessions, lunch and beyond, they are always on the go. It’s part of the whole experience.”


Did you know?

  • The Greenwood Air Cadet Summer Training Centre was officially consolidated as the summer training location for Air Cadets from the Atlantic Region in 1951.
  • It is estimated that over 60,000 young people have been trained in Greenwood since that time.
  • Selection to attend a summer training course at Greenwood usually takes place at the local cadet corps or squadron level.
  • A variety of two-, three- and six-week courses are offered in Greenwood.
  • Greenwood’s Air Cadet Summer Training Centre mainly hosts air cadets from Atlantic Canada, as well as English-speaking air cadets from Quebec. However, in past years, the camp has hosted cadets from across the country if accommodations permit.
  • More than 1,000 cadets train at the camp each year. The centre is staffed by approximately 240 cadet organization administrative and training service personnel and about 100 staff cadets.
  • The Greenwood camp is one of four Atlantic region training centres. The others are: HMCS Acadia Sea Cadet Summer Training Centre in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; Argonaut Army Cadet Summer Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick; and the Regional Gliding School (Atlantic) in Debert, Nova Scotia.


Busy days

A cadet’s day begins early and is chock full of activity from the time his or her feet hit the floor between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m.  A typical duty day for a cadet looks somewhat like this:

  • 6 a.m. - Wake up
  • 7 a.m. - Breakfast
  • 8 a.m. - Morning training begins
  • 10 a.m. - Morning break
  • 12 p.m. - Lunch
  • 1 p.m. - Afternoon training
  • 3 p.m. - Afternoon break
  • 5 p.m. - Supper
  • 6:30 p.m. - Evening recreational activities
  • 8 p.m. - Free time
  • 10 p.m. - Return to quarters
  • 10:15 p.m. - Lights out