Plenty of new cadets in Victoria
2615 Victoria Lions in midst of recruiting boom
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.
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.
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.