Hands-on fun offered at Cadets open house

Percy Coldwell reacts as Marlon Wilcox uses the flight simulator at an open house held by the 553 Sherlock Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets on Sept. 14.

Percy Coldwell reacts as Marlon Wilcox uses the flight simulator at an open house held by the 553 Sherlock Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets on Sept. 14.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — One son became an air force pilot, retiring as a lieutenant-colonel after a 24-year career with the Canadian Forces.

Another son pursued a career in the energy sector and now works in the Middle East for an oil company.

Though her boys pursued different paths, Gwen Eyre said they both took advantage of the opportunities provided to them as members of 553 Sherlock Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

Eyre said the camps they attended and the leadership skills they developed were beneficial for both Ryan, who wrapped up his career at CFB Trenton, and Michael, currently an operations centre manager in Oman.

While parents sometimes perceive Cadets as a method of whipping kids into shape, she said, in her experience it helps draw out qualities like self-control and responsibility.

“Those are skills that help you develop character,” she said.

Eyre spoke to an audience of around 35 people at an open house hosted by the Air Cadets squadron at Davidson Town Hall on Sept. 14.

The event included a free barbecue sponsored by Riverbend Co-op, along with hands-on activities and information about Cadets. Guests could try out the flight simulator, controlled with a steering wheel and pedals, or take aim with an air rifle (not loaded, of course).

The squadron’s numbers have dwindled in recent years, but commanding officer Capt. Krystal Klenk-Potts said she was encouraged by the crowd that attended Monday’s event.

A total of four cadets were enrolled in 553 Sherlock Squadron as of last spring. (By contrast, 30 cadets were enrolled during the 1998-99 season.)

“Every year, when I hear the numbers are down, I feel a litle bit nervous,” said Eyre, a former commanding officer. She called Cadets a great opportunity for small-town teens to learn new skills and find purpose.

Compounding the problem, said Klenk-Potts, is a decline in the number of parents and volunteers available to serve as leaders.

She said the Cadets program struggles to compete with sports, dance and other activities. Another issue is a general lack of awareness of the program. Klenk-Potts said they are working to combat this by visiting area schools.

For the full story, please see the Sept. 21 edition of The Davidson Leader.

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