Plenty of new cadets in Vic­to­ria

2615 Vic­to­ria Lions in midst of re­cruit­ing boom

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

At a time when cadet num­bers are dwin­dling across the coun­try, Vic­to­ria is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an up­swing.

The 2615 Lions Army Cadet Corps wel­comed some 20 new mem­bers when ac­tiv­i­ties re­sumed last month.

In pre­vi­ous years, the corps has at­tracted an av­er­age of five or six new re­cruits, but noth­ing the size of what they’re see­ing now.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about it,” said com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Capt. Joseph Lafitte.

The group’s plans are on hold for the time be­ing. In light of events that oc­curred in Ot­tawa last week, cadet pro­grams across the coun­try have sus­pended ac­tiv­i­ties in­def­i­nitely.

For the past month at Per­salvic El­e­men­tary in Vic­to­ria, the re­cruits have been learn­ing the ropes ahead of one of the big­gest events of the year — Re­mem­brance Day.

From learn­ing the proper march­ing tech­nique to know­ing the in­tent be­hind ev­ery com­mand, the fresh faces are fit­ting into their new sur­round­ings ad­mirably.

One of those cadets new to the game is 12year-old Kelsey Par­sons. The bright-eyed cadet is grad­u­ally find­ing her way in her new sur­round­ings.

“It’s been dif­fi­cult, but it’s been fun too,” she said.

A stu­dent at Per­salvic El­e­men­tary, Par­sons was in­clined to join the pro­gram fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion at the school last spring.

Learn­ing about the many ac­tiv­i­ties cadets take part in and lis­ten­ing to the tes­ti­monies of se­nior cadets in­trigued Noah Bur­den, another new re­cruit. “I thought it was cool,” he told The Com­pass. Lafitte sees the pre­sen­ta­tion as the key point to at­tract­ing the new cadets. The group also had an early reg­is­tra­tion night.

He said get­ting into the schools had an im­pact on stu­dents and par­ents plan­ning their fall sched­ule.

“It was fresh in their minds, rather than let the sum­mer get in,” said Lafitte. “So, you know you’re go­ing to cadets in Septem­ber.”

It was some­thing they have tried in the past with lit­tle suc­cess.

“The re­sults were mixed and by the time Septem­ber rolls around, ev­ery­one knows what they’re do­ing,” said Lafitte.

The chal­lenge

While it is great to have the in­crease in num­bers, the chal­lenge now shifts to keep­ing the re­cruits in the pro­gram.

“That’s what we’re try­ing to fig­ure out,” said Lafitte.

The cap­tain in­di­cated the en­tire cadet pro­gram is tak­ing the is­sue head on in an at­tempt to fig­ure things out.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions like the cadets rely on word of mouth to at­tract mem­bers. If one friend tells another friend they loved the pro­gram, there is the pos­si­bil­ity a new mem­ber could join.

The same ap­plies when it comes to leav­ing the group. If a re­cruit joined with a friend and that friend leaves, chances are the corp will lose two mem­bers.

“Hope­fully, that won’t hap­pen here,” said Lafitte.

A great pro­gram

If you look at a group of chil­dren at ran­dom, those who are in cadets stand out. They ex­ude lead­er­ship, the will­ing­ness to help oth­ers and carry them­selves with a cer­tain de­gree of con­fi­dence.

“It’s a great pro­gram for young peo­ple,” said Lafitte.

Cadets par­tic­i­pate in a wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties. There is marks­man­ship train­ing, first-aid train­ing and ori­en­teer­ing, just to name a few.

All are de­signed to put cadets in sit­u­a­tions they might not nor­mally find them­selves in and suc­ceed.

Bur­den, whose fa­ther was a cadet, has a high opin­ion of the ac­tiv­i­ties he gets to take part in. “I like them,” he said. 2615 Lions Army Cadet Corps march ev­ery Tues­day night at Per­salvic El­e­men­tary.

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

A group of new re­cruits of 2615 Vic­to­ria Lions Army Cadet march dur­ing the corps’ reg­u­lar night at Per­salvic El­e­men­tary on Oct. 14.

There are 20 new cadets with the 2615 Vic­to­ria Lions Army Cadet Corps. They are: front (l-r) — A.J. Penney, Bri­anna Ped­dle, Steven Rid­dle Ellsworth, Noah Bur­den, Erica Evely and Gor­don Best; back — Laura King, Kaitlin Hef­ford, Ali­cia Penney, Laura Bourne, Austin Fowler, Shara Em­ber­ley, Keira Green, Olivia Bur­den, Al­li­son Reynolds, Kelsey Par­sons and Re­becca Short. Miss­ing from photo are Trin­ity Deer­ing, Ja’da Thomas and Christian Butt.

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