SCUGOG: Port Perry’s #41 Army Cadets have a strong tradition in the Scugog community, and are often spotted around town volunteering for events, marching in parades, and helping in any way they can.
Since forming more than a century ago in November of 1898 at Port Perry High School - leaders, officers and cadets have come and gone - leaving their legacy of community involvement for the new recruits of the future.
Volunteerism and community support seem second nature to the disciplined battalion of teenagers, but what makes them tick?
The Standard sat in on a recent training night at Port Perry High School, and interview the cadet’s leader, Captain Sid Bailie and several of her cadets to find out more.
After years of helping the cadets program and coaching her son, former top-cadet Liam Bailie, through the program, Cpt. Bailie decided to join the reserve forces in 2006, and quickly became acting Captain and head officer of the Port Perry #41 Cadets in 2008.
“Over the course of my years working with and leading the Cadets, I have seen many young people grow, thrive and discover their sense of self,” said Cpt. Bailie.
As the mother of a career cadet, Cpt.Bailie knows that the cadet program isn’t all about following orders. She explained that even the youngest members are asked to take part, but must cultivate their own initiative to work hard.
Cpt. Bailie said that “the most crucial piece of the program is teaching the cadets to support and motivate each other, with minimal guidance. We teach them how to teach themselves - and then they excel.”
The Port Perry Cadets are exceptionally active in the Scugog community, and take part in charity and fundraiser events year-round. From volunteering with food and toy drives, to the Legion’s Poppy Campaign, and even hiking along the Hwy. 7A causeway to pick up litter and beautify the Lake Scugog shoreline.
When the cadets take part in events around the community, they are often broken up into groups - with a chain of command being put into place.
Chief Warrant Officer Logan Stoneburg acts as the top cadet in the program, known as the Regimental Seargent Major, the highest title a cadet can be given.
As a successful senior in the group, he carries numerous responsibilities and leads his fellow cadets through their exercises. Since joining the cadets at the age of 12 in January of 2009, CWO Stoneburg has spent numerous weeks attending training courses and field challenges, at times in a supervisory role.
During the summer of 2012, he travelled to the Rocky Mountain National Army Cadet Training Centre in Alberta, and participated in the cadets’ International Exchange program, where her he travelled to Wales to participate in training with the United Kingdom’s military and cadets.
“The cadets is a free program, open to anyone - like many other jobs in life, recruits pay through their effort and commitment,” said CWO Stoneburg. “In return, recruits learn essential skills, camaraderie, and can even be given opportunities to travel across the world. Certian posts can also include a monetary bonus.”
The exciting and integral skills which the young men and women learn range from bushcraft and orientation, to marksmanship, knot tying, leadership, and the appreciation of the Canadian military tradition.
When asked what his favourite experience in the Cadet Corps was, CWO Stoneburg happily spoke of his trip to Whitehorse, Yukon, the largest city in northern Canada.
“I was given a chance to visit the Yukon for a training exercise, and it was amazing to work up there,” said CWO Stoneburg. “I was able to spend 18 days with 20 Cadets under my leadership, and we worked together to go hiking, canoeing, camping and use our bushcraft in a whole new environment.”
Cpt. Bailie told The Standard that many graduates of the cadet program have moved on to join the Canadian Armed Forces in a variety of positions, or have enrolled in military college to become officers - many have also become artists, or lawyers, or tradesmen - the skills and sense of motivation which the teens learn are universal.
“Some cadets will join when they’re 12-years-old, and go through until they graduate at 19, and some cadets will join for only a couple of years,” said Cpt. Bailie. “The most important part is that they learn the rule of ‘you get what you put in’ and it carries through the rest of their lives.”
To get in touch with Cpt. Bailie or to learn more about the Port Perry #41 Army Cadets, phone 705-786-1409, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/www.41portperrycadets.ca, or inquire at the Port Perry High School, 160 Rosa St., on any given Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. to see the cadets hard at work.