Lieutenant Paul Alberto graciously greets me and gives me a tour of Brigadier James Curry Jefferson Armoury, where the 570 Sir Winston Churchill Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron (570 Squadron) trains. Soon after, Leading Air Cadet Stephen Westerman joins us. When Alberto, Westerman, and I sit down to discuss the upcoming field training exercise scheduled for September, Westerman proves to be a remarkable 13-year-old.
Westerman’s respectful but confident demeanor embodies what it is to be a part of this organization. It also demonstrates the importance of the upcoming field training exercise, which aims to provide fun learning experiences for cadets, while imparting important practical knowledge and life skills. He speaks softly, but with assurance as he relates his story of being part of the squadron. Alberto answers questions about the squadron, but also mentors Westerman by respecting his contribution. They work as a team.
The field training exercise from Sept. 21-23 at Hastings Lake is an extension of the regular cadet program, which runs 10 months of the year, with cadets meeting at least once a week for three hours of drills and classes.
During the field training exercise, cadets and their leaders will spend three days camping together for fun and learning. The intense experience sharpens leadership and team building skills. It will include setting up the camp, setting snares, building shelters, and starting a campfire without matches. They will also have training in search and rescue and first aid.
Leaders like Alberto will support cadets in leadership roles throughout the weekend. Alberto explained, “We introduce them to these skills bit by bit through the years. Our primary goal is teaching practical skills. Our secondary goal is to teach leadership and esprit de corps [pride, fellowship, and loyalty]. After 48 hours, cadets really get to know each other. It’s great for confidence and self esteem.” He continues, “To suddenly be a cadet for 48 hours is a much bigger experience [than the weekly meetings cadets attend].”
Westerman said he wanted to try being part of the 570 Squadron because, “My mom went through it, so I should try it too, to see how my experience would go. It went well.”
Alberto added, “It is very common to have family and generational ties in the cadets.”
Anyone aged 12-18 can join the cadets. Family tradition of membership or not, Alberto said friendships forged between cadets often last a lifetime.
Alberto emphasized, “We want [cadets] to go out and try. Cadets is a lot of work, and intense. We want to make sure they are prepared for success. We create a safe environment to ‘fail’ in.”
Westerman loves the survival training weekend. He said, “Anything I do, I’m just not afraid. You want to get [young people] out of fear so they’ll be much braver in life.”
Brigadier James Curry Jefferson Armoury
11630 109 ST
Contact Susan Sexsmith: firstname.lastname@example.org or 780.991.3113
Featured Image: From left to right: Lieutenant Paul Alberto and Leading Air Cadet Stephen Westerman will attend the field training exercise in September. | Rebecca Lippiatt