The Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Centre recently held a public open house to showcase the cadet courses. Aerospace activities, an air rifle demo and a sunset ceremony were all highlighted that evening.
The open house was for the entire camp as there were sea cadets and army cadets but the majority of youth there were air cadets.
With hundreds of cadets and family members on site for the event there were authority figures in the mix. One such person was Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond Evans.
Evans has been involved in the cadets program for six years and he can testify about how cadets has the potential to change young people’s lives. He believes that being involved with the cadets give you life skills — not just skills for the military.
Evans joined cadets when he was 13. He was looking for something to occupy his time and his parents suggested cadets. He accepted but admits that shooting stuff was a big draw for him, however, cadets started to mean much more to him.
Evans is currently a Squadron One officer and has 135 cadets under him.
“If you would have told me six years ago, when I was 13, that I would be in charge of 135 people, I would have thought you were joking,” said Evans.
For him the first year was “all right” but then he went to summer camp and that is what really cemented it for him. He found that he learned a lot and he met many amazing people.
It was the summer camps, like the one he is a leader in now, that kept him coming back. Evans has been to camps around the country. He has been from B.C. to Ontario to Nova Scotia and has met many exciting people. He has also had the privilege of meeting the Chief of Defense Staff twice.
“Cadets provides you with opportunities that you would not normally get with Boy Scouts or other youth programs.”
Evans said that cadets will also help you grow as a person. It is not just ‘this is fun let’s get our merit badges.’ This will help a young person change into a better, more responsible citizen later on in life.
“Cadets will help you with things like leadership, and it teaches you how to carry yourself,” said Evans. “You also learn what respect is, how you earn it and how to give it back. These skills were non-existent when I was 13 and shy and new to cadets,” he said. “Cadets has also definitely helped me grow,” he said. “It has helped me be a leader to younger people.”
As a leader now, Evans can see the potential in his cadets and he tries to help them unlock it. “That is the goal. The thing with cadets is what you put into it is what you will get out. If you want it to change you it will,” said Evans.
For Evans being a role model is “a great sense of accomplishment.”
“It feels amazing to inspire kids to try their hardest and to grow as people.”