By Jessica Jones
For the Independent
The Royal Canadian Air Cadets is gaining popularity as more and more youth register and participate in the program, which came to Stettler four months ago.
Before the cadet program (the 572 RCACS Coyote) moved to Stettler from Coronation this past July, it was at risk of ceasing with only seven cadets.
But Lieutenant Lisa Long, commanding officer of the 572 RCACS Coyote, is elated that the program is gaining traction in Stettler. With already 41 cadets on the squadron, she is further estimating it will have upwards of 60 by the end of December.
“It is an incredible evolution to know that this many kids, ages 12 to 19, want to be a part of the program,” she said. “This has impressed the Department of National Defence and we are hearing parents calling and saying, ‘I can’t wait for my kids to turn 12.’”
The program was previously in Castor for a few years and was later moved to Coronation in 2013.
Long says they had “great support” from parents and the community in Coronation but ultimately, “needed cadets to have cadets.”
At the end of June, Long and another officer “packed up an entire unit” and moved the squadron to Stettler. It is run out of the Stettler Legion Thursday nights from 7 p.m until 9 p.m. The program is free for youth to join.
The Legion offered the squadron a training space where they can parade and do drills, provided an office space, as well as enabled the cadet program to utilize a supply and equipment area.
The Stettler Flying Club has also come forward and sponsored the program, assisting with ground school, which teaches the cadets how to become pilots. Long says seven top cadets from the squadron may even be selected to earn a scholarship to obtain their private pilot’s licence.
The cadets participate in numerous activities during the year, all which promote citizenship, leadership and physical fitness.
They are even planning on doing an overnight canoe trip along the Red Deer River, starting from the Content Bridge near Stettler on Hwy. 21, and paddling all the way to Drumheller.
“The program does amazing wonders for today’s youth,” Long says.
“It helps them be better Canadian citizens, teaches them self-respect, how to work as a team, and the coolest thing is it’s supported by the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence, so it’s free.
“Our aim is to turn really great kids into really great people,” Long added, further noting that the squadron is in need of officers, civilian instructors and volunteers.
“Once you get in and start working with these cadets it’s a refreshing perspective on our youth. Come see what these kids are doing and who they are as people. Stettler has some fantastic kids, let me tell you.”
For more information, contact the 572 RCACS Coyote Office at 403-742-9777, visit stettleraircadets.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.