How Does Training Work?
There are three different types of air cadet training: mandatory, complementary, and optional.
Mandatory training refers to the training that all cadets across Canada must complete to pass their level. These are the classes that are taught on Wednesday evenings. They are standardized across Canada and teach you the essentials of being a cadet.
Air cadet training is divided into what we call Levels. New recruits under 14 years of age are in Level 1. Recruits 14 years or older may be given the option of taking an accelerated program.
Each level builds on the knowledge gained in previous levels. You must complete all the requirements for each level to advance to the next level and to qualify for promotions and summer camps. As you advance, you will begin taking more senior leadership roles in the squadron and eventually, you will begin instructing younger cadets.
Complementary training is designed to enhance and complement standard training.
It is important to understand that complementary training is not optional; it is also mandatory. Cadets must participate in the squadron’s complementary training activities. Examples include the Remembrance Day parade, the bottle drive, and the weekend camping trips/survival exercises.
Complementary activities are like the option courses in your junior high school. Everybody must take them, but the squadron is allowed to choose which training opportunities to provide.
For example, one training requirement for all cadets is community service. Each squadron is free to choose how this requirement is fulfilled. One squadron might volunteer at a city event, while another squadron might organize a litter pick-up day. Every cadet must participate in community service, but the actual activity can vary from squadron to squadron.
These are the fun activities that are supported by the parent-sponsoring committee. Cadets can choose to participate in these activities. Examples include sports, drill team, flag party, band, aviation ground school, range team, flying, and gliding.
Though you are not required to attend these activities, you are encouraged to be as involved as you can. Participation in all activities counts towards promotions and awards.
How is the Squadron Run?
The squadron is administered by officers from the Cadet Instructors Cadre, a branch of the Canadian Forces Reserve. Their role is to lead, instruct, and run cadet squadrons. Because they are employed by the Canadian Forces on a part-time basis, most of them have full-time jobs or go to school. Much of the work they do with cadets is voluntary. They are helped by Civilian Volunteers (CIV) such as parents, former cadets, and ex-military people.
We rely on the squadron sponsoring committee, the Guardians of 810 Society. The Guardians are a group of dedicated parents and guardians, who volunteer their time to fundraise and support cadet activities. All parents/guardians with cadets in the squadron are members of the society and can be nominated for board positions.
At its core, the program is led by cadets. Throughout their careers, cadets gain the experience and skills to lead the squadron and organize activities. They then pass down their knowledge to the junior cadets, who will one day take over the squadron.
What if My Cadet Cannot Attend?
Cadets must attend mandatory and complementary training. If they cannot attend because they are ill, have too much homework, or have other commitments, they (the cadet) must phone the squadron office to be considered ‘Excused’. They should leave a voicemail clearly stating their rank and name, the date they will be absent, and the reason for the absence. Parents may make this call if their child is too ill or otherwise unavailable to call.
Attendance at both mandatory and optional activities is calculated when determining promotions, summer course selections, and awards.
What if My Cadet Is Late?
If your cadet arrives late on a training night, they must check in with the Duty NCO. He/she will mark your name down on the attendance. Afterwards, they may enter the parade square and go to their flight. Before they fall in, they are to ask permission from their Flight Commander. If the parade has already started, they should stand to the side of the parade square. If there is no Duty NCO available, they should check in at the office.
Some Common Misconceptions about the Cadet Program
1. “You have to join the military after cadets.”
This is untrue. Cadets, while enjoying support from the Canadian Forces (CF), are not military members, and there is no obligation to join the CF upon graduating the program.
2. “The Cadet Program is meant for “juvenile delinquents”.
This is also untrue. Cadets is for any teen between 12-19 who would like to learn leadership, citizenship, survival, drill…and to do so in a safe, team environment.
3. “The officers are not real Canadian Forces (CF) Officers.”
The officers of the Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) are real CF Officers. They undergo the same screening process as the regular force and reserve force. Once the rank of 2nd Lieutenant is achieved they receive a Queens Commission, the same as the rest of the Officers in the CF.
“The Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) is a sub-component of the Reserve Force. It consists of about 6000 officers who have undertaken, by the terms of their enrolment, to perform such military duty and training as may be required of them, but whose primary duty is to fulfill a youth
training function in the supervision, administration, and training of cadets. They mostly perform
these duties on a volunteer basis. They are paid only when they are employed in the conduct of Cadet Summer camps and for a portion of their time during the rest of the year.” (Air Force website)
4. “The Officers are full-time and are paid as such.”
As the above quote says, CIC officers are mostly volunteers, and as such have regular jobs. Their Cadet time is on a ‘part-time basis’ therefore the Unit office hours reflect that.
5. “The program is fully funded/supported by the Department of National Defense.”
The Cadet Program is supported by a partnership between the Department of National Defence as well as their appropriate ‘League’ (Air Cadet League for Air Cadets, Army Cadet League for Army Cadets, Navy League for Sea Cadets). It is with this partnership that we are able to offer a diverse program. I would like to leave you with a quote from Galileo Galilei: “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”