Sea cadets growing but still recruiting

Andrew Wagstaff awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca
Published on January 18, 2012
The 258 Amherst Sea Cadets meet every Tuesday night at the Amherst Armoury. The corps is named after the HMCS Amherst, one of Canada's Second World War corvettes.
Eric Sparling - The Citizen-Record

AMHERST - Cadets stand out in a crowd.

Helen Triff, commanding officer of the 258 Amherst Sea Cadets Corps, said she notices a clear difference in young people after they spend a year with the program.

"There's a difference in the way they stand... they just seem a little prouder," she said. "They worked hard in their uniform, they look good, they get a good evaluation and they're just so proud. The child may not have grown any taller, they just look like they're standing a little taller."

The Amherst sea cadets are standing a little taller every year, as their numbers continue to increase. After being down to about 15 members, the corps has doubled in size and continues to recruit, now carrying a membership of 32 cadets.

For boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18, the program follows the same training guidelines as army and air cadets, but with a little more focus on seafaring skills such as tying knots.

Frank Occomore has been involved with the corps as a civilian instructor for the past few years, having switched over after seeing his son come up through the air cadets program, and said he is "loving every minute of it."

"It's a great way for the kids to meet new friends and have fun," said Occomore. "Our main emphasis is to try and make the program fun for them, and keep them interested in it."

There are no registration fees or any other costs associated with the program, while the opportunities for cadets are plentiful. Leadership programs are available, as are summer camps, exchange trips and more. Older cadets can gain employment at the summer camps, and can even earn scholarships towards their post-secondary education.

Main area of focus for the program are leadership and citizenship, according to Triff, who said the cadets participate in community events such as the Remembrance Day parade, the firefighters memorial parade, and also help out with the annual Y's Men food drive.

"We try to help young people develop leadership abilities, and pursue the idea of giving back to the community," she said. "Obviously there's personal growth and they do wear a uniform and participate in drills, which all comes to personal responsibility."

The Amherst corps is not named after the town, but rather the HMCS Amherst, a corvette that served the Canadian navy in the Second World War. A photo of the vessel hangs in the cadet office at the armoury.

Sea cadets meet every Tuesday at the armoury from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Anyone interested in the program can visit on one of these nights, or contact Helen Triff at 661-3848.