information for families
The Canadian Cadet Organization program offers a wide variety of opportunities for youth at the local, regional and national level. For parents and families, it can be difficult to stay informed of all the various programs, standards, and requirement. This page is intended to provide parents with information and links to references. Should you have any concerns or questions which are not adequately addressed with this information, please do not hesitate to contact the squadron staff or the sponsoring committee.
The cadet program is open to youth 12-18 (must have had their 12 birthday to participate and are “aged out” on their 19th birthday). The program is run as a partnership between the Department of National Defence and the Air Cadet League of Canada. Cadets progress through a 5 level local training curriculum involving leadership, physical fitness, aviation knowledge, aircrew survival, and community engagement. Cadets are offered the opportunity to attend summer camps ranging from 2 to 6 weeks in a variety of subjects. Senior cadets may have the opportunity to be employed as staff at summer camps.
Cadets are expected to attend training evenings once a week (Wednesdays from 5:45pm – 8:30pm) as well as several weekend training events during the year. Typically, a minimum of 60% attendance is required to progress between training levels and to be eligible for promotions. Individuals with special circumstances which preclude them from attending regularly should discuss their concerns with the Squadron Commanding Officer as alternate arrangements may be possible.
Training nights are generally led by senior cadets under the supervision of adult staff and involve classroom instruction as well as practical skills development in support of the national training curriculum. Weekend activities include day long and overnight events, generally organized by senior cadets, which further enhance learning in aviation skills and knowledge, air crew survival, leadership and citizenship.
Local training is organized into 5 proficiency levels. Cadets who attend and engage in local training usually complete a proficiency level each year and are awarded a badge to display on their uniform. As cadets work through the proficiency levels they are challenged with increasingly complex material and with additional leadership roles and responsibilities.
The cadet program employs a rank structure to mark both achievement of local training levels and to indicate the level of leadership expected of them. There are 7 rank levels from Cadet to Warrant Officer First Class. Initial promotions are based on participation and attendance. As the rank levels increase, there is increased emphasis on demonstrated leadership ability and commitment. Promotions to the highest levels are weighted on the cadet’s achievements, leadership abilities and the needs of the squadron.
It is required for a cadet to maintain a minimum 70% attendance for mandatory activities. Staff cadets are held to a higher standard and must maintain a minimum of an 80% attendance. Mandatory activities include Wednesday training nights and FTXs (field training exercises), and are necessary for a cadet to pass their level or be eligible for promotion to the next rank. Other activities and teams such as the band and drill team are optional, though cadets are encouraged to try out for as many as possible.
We understand that school is important to you and your cadet, and that sometimes it will have to come before cadet activities. That being said, participation in cadet activities can provide your cadet with many leadership and training opportunities not found in school. We encourage you to help your cadet balance between their school and cadet obligations.
Being a cadet takes hard work and effort, and your cadet may find themselves struggling at times. As a parent, it is important that you help your cadet persevere through any difficulties they may be having.
In the event your cadet cannot meet their attendance commitment for an activity, it is vital that they communicate this as soon as possible to the Commanding Officer by texting him at the main Squadron phone number: (604) 740-2317
Uniforms are loaned to cadets free of charge. Cadets and their parents are responsible to ensure the uniforms are maintained in good repair and are returned to the squadron on termination of the cadet’s membership. Uniform parts will be exchanged or replaced due to changes in sizing or normal wear and tear. Cadets who lose or damage uniform items through negligence may be required to reimburse the squadron for the cost of the item.
Supervision and Safety
The well-being of the cadets and all other personnel associated with the Cadet Program is of primary concern in the execution of all training and administrative tasks.
All cadet activities are carried out under the supervision of a Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer or a Civilian Instructor. Supervisor-to-cadet ratios and supervisor gender requirements are specified and enforced for the type and nature of the activities undertaken
See our Screening page.
Cadets may apply for (but are not assured of) the opportunity to participate in summer camps. Cadets will submit their requests for camps through the chain of command in early January each year. Cadets are offered a first/second/third choice of the type of camp but are not offered choice of dates. Offers arrive at the unit between March and April and are provided to the cadet. In consultation with their families, cadets either accept or refuse the offers. Cadets may ask to be placed on a waiting list for an alternate camp if they do not receive or decide not to accept their offer. Some cadets may not be offered a camp initially but will remain on the waiting list. Squadron staff will actively pursue opportunities for those on waiting lists. Waiting lists may be offed camps at short notice at any time during the summer.
Camps are offered free of charge. Cadets are provided with everything they require including return transportation from the local drop off point (Langdale Ferry Terminal).
Senior cadets may choose to apply for camp staff positions. These positions are paid employment and generally last the entire summer. Staff positions are an excellent opportunity to build work and leadership experience in a enjoyable environment. Senior cadets may also choose to apply for national camps. National Camp selection is very competitive and require the cadets to complete a formal application (Cover letter, resume) and attend a selection board.
The BC Ministry of Education has approved certain Air Cadet activities as External Youth Development Courses eligible for up to 4 graduation credits in each of grades 10, 11, and 12. The BC Ministry of Education awards these credits based on their current requirements. Up-to-date information can be obtained on their website here.
While the responsibility lies on the cadet to stay informed about squadron events and training activities, parents should also be keeping up to date.
858 Skookumchuk Squadron works hard to communicate information to cadets and families in a timely, meaningful and effective manner. Effort has been made to accommodate a variety of communication preferences. Cadets are expected to seek out information and ensure they are regularly checking for communications. Parents are asked to encourage their cadets to take responsibility for communications.
Communications Methods employed by 858:
- Team Snap – Team Snap is a commercial app which is used for a variety of purposes including contact list management, group email drafting, availability tracking, and a file repository. It is our primary means of communication with Cadets and families. On joining 858 Skookumchuk, members will be sent an invitation to create a free account with Team Snap. Creating an account allows you to update your contact information, view other members’ contact information, see up to date schedules, access prior communications and files, view weekly training activities such as regular training nights and events, as well as any other events such as tagging or parades. Cadets and parents can download the TeamSnap app to their device OR use the desktop version.
- Squadron Website – The squadron website contains general information, references, links and an up to date training calendar.
- Squadron Facebook Page – The 858 Facebook page is currently a members only page. It is used as a backup means of communication as it is popular with some members. We post event photos and other aviation related posts there. If you’d like to join, visit the page and request to join.
- Email – VERY occasionally, we will use email rather than TeamSnap, with TeamSnap remaining our primary means of communication with families. Senior cadets are expected to have their own email address and to take responsibility for the information they are sent.
- Paper – (permission forms, etc) – All information and permission forms will be sent via TeamSnap, however paper copies will be provided for those who do not have the ability to print them out. Note that permission forms are to be returned to the Squadron Officers prior to the event in question.
KEEPING US INFORMED
It is critical that Cadets and families communicate to us any changes in your cadet’s personal or medical information, such as address changes and any new allergies, etc., OR if your Cadet will be away from mandatory events such as the weekly Parade night.
“The Air Cadet League of Canada envisions the Royal Canadian Air Cadets as Canada’s premier and a world class youth development movement. Being attuned to societal changes, it strives diligently to be a totally dedicated, proactive and innovative partner to encourage and enhance the development of well adjusted, civic minded youth to undertake leadership roles in a great Canada and a better world.”
Air Cadet League of Canada
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions about the Air Cadet program.
What is the purpose of Cadets?
Cadets form a national organization whose purpose is to develop in youth the attributes of leadership, engaged and active citizenship and physical fitness, all within a safe environment that stimulates an interest in the Canadian Forces.
What do Cadets do?
Lots of different things, many of which relate to flying!
- precision drill
- team sports
- public speaking and leadership training
- summer camps
You will participate in these activities during the weekly meetings and on the weekends. You will also support your community by taking part in citizenship events organized by your cadet squadron.
It all happens in a fun, friendly, safe environment that will motivate you to give your best.
Who joins cadets?
With over 24,000 Air Cadets across Canada, we have an organization with a proud history. Many former cadets say that the Cadet Program gave them a head start in their successful careers. For example, did you know that astronaut Chris Hadfield and world junior biathlon champion Jean-Philippe Le Guellec were once cadets? Maybe someday we’ll be using your name on our site!
When do cadets meet?
Cadets usually meet once a week and some weekends throughout the school year. A cadet must participate regularly in the activities to remain in good standing at the squadron.
Will cadet training affect my schoolwork?
Education is very important to Cadets. Cadet training is a hands-on, activity-based program that should complement school studies. In fact, some provincial and territorial education boards accept Cadet subjects for school credits. As well, there are several scholarships available through Cadets.
The skills you develop at Cadets will benefit you with your schoolwork. You’ll be more organized, you’ll be better able to focus and you’ll learn to work in a team.
How old do I have to be to join cadets?
You can join as soon as you’ve reached your 12th birthday and you can remain until you turn 19.
What do I need to join?
The documents required are:
- proof of provincial health insurance
- proof of age
- proof of Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status
What does it cost to join?
The core Cadet Program is funded by the Department of National Defence in partnership with the Air Cadet League of Canada. The civilian sponsor (the Squadron Sponsoring Committee [SSC]) requires local community support to meet its obligations that include accommodations, training aids and equipment and program enhancements not otherwise provided. Parents and cadets are expected to participate in and contribute to fund raising as required by the League’s local sponsoring element. Currently, the 858 Skookumchuk registration fee is $125 per year per cadet, which covers insurance, canteen, gliding and other activities. The remaining training events (such as familiarization flying, etc.) are covered by additional squadron fundraising activities initiated by the Squadron Sponsoring Committee. If the registration fee is out of reach, the Squadron has partnered with Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program, which provides funding for youth programs. Click here to apply for JumpStart funding, or the SSC executive committee has hardcopy application forms.
What about summer training?
Cadets can go to camp for two to eight weeks on a variety of courses. Each camp offers a unique mixture of outdoor activities and valuable instruction. The Canadian Forces provide all transportation, meals, lodging and special equipment.
What do I do at summer training?
Courses offered at Air Cadet summer camps include training in leadership, instructional techniques, music, marksmanship, flying, navigation, meteorology, air traffic control, ceremonial drill, physical education, computer skills, survival training, aerospace studies and citizenship. Advanced Cadets can qualify for glider scholarships and powered flight scholarships.
To obtain information on cadet summer camps and courses, please visit the National Cadet Website.
Are there travel opportunities?
Definitely! For summer training, Cadets may have the opportunity to travel to summer training centres located in different parts of Canada. In addition, selected Cadets go on exchange trips to countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, France, Sweden, Turkey, Hong Kong, Belgium, Japan and the United States under an international exchange program. Exchange Cadets are selected on their standards in performance, fitness and involvement in squadron activities.
Who instructs cadets?
Cadets learn from members of the Cadet Instructors Cadre, officers who are specially trained to instruct and supervise youth. In some cases, civilian volunteers who possess special skills are called in to assist Cadet Instructors. Both the Cadet Instructors and civilian volunteers have chosen to dedicate their valuable time to helping Cadets reach their potential
Will I be expected to join the Canadian Forces?
Absolutely not. Cadets is a great way to find out more about Canada, make friends and develop new skills that will be with you for life, no matter what career you choose.
former air cadets say...
Royal Canadian Air Cadet alumni have gone on to some very prominent and exciting careers. Here are words from just a few:
I dreamed of spaceflight. Watching the first humans leave our Earth to walk on another planet was a young boy’s dream, ignited. I thus clearly knew what I wanted to do, but had no idea how to get myself there. So I did some research. When I looked at what space explorers knew, I saw that they were aviators, engineers and test pilots. Growing up as a farm boy that looked great to me, but I needed to learn how airplanes worked, and how to fly. The Milton 820 RCAC Squadron had recently formed, so I joined and grew up with them from 1973-1977. The lessons I learned there I still draw upon daily: self-discipline, teamwork, technical competence, flying, and leadership. To be able to command the International Space Station in 2012/13, I know full well that it was the Air Cadet experience that allowed me to fly so high. Per Ardua ad Astra! (820 Chris Hadfield Squadron 1973-1977)
Col Chris Hadfield – Canadian Space Agency (First Canadian to walk in space)
Being part of 630 Beauport Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets as a teenager, provided me an excellent foundation for my career in aviation and with the Canadian Forces. I had the chance to be initiated to flying, learn about leadership, discipline, and aviation. Taking part in the various activities and participating in the summer camps gave me the opportunity to develop skills and personality traits that are required and used everyday in my present career: interpersonal skills, public speaking, reliability, discipline, and assertiveness. I was positively influenced by the friends I made and the mentors I had early on with the Air Cadets. The six years I spent with the organization certainly gave me the tools to attack life head on and work hard. (630 Beauport Squadron 1984-1990)
LCol Maryse Carmichael – Commanding Officer: Canadian Forces Snowbirds
The Air Cadet program played a significant role in the achievement of my life’s goals and dreams. As a young boy I had a passion to fly and an interest in the military. Thus, it seemed a natural fit that I should join 614 RCAC Squadron in London Ontario at the age of 12. My time spent with Air Cadets was nothing short of tremendous. It was filled with many challenges and fantastic rewards, and its focus was much broader than the flying and military experience I expected. The program has something to offer for all of Canada’s youth. The highlights for me were the flying scholarships and the friendships. It would be many years later, upon further reflection, that I would truly come to realize the full extent of what the program had given to me. The leadership experiences and the challenge of flying had given me a boost of self-confidence and the courage to set an ambitious course for my life. I’ve never looked back. There are few certainties in life, but one thing I am absolutely certain of is that I would not be where I am today, were it not for the Air Cadet program. For that, I am most grateful. I take a piece of the Air Cadet program with me everywhere I go, and I look forward to taking it to space one day in the future! (614 Forest City Squadron 1988-1994)
Maj Jeremy Hansen – Canadian Space Agency
From a very early age, I had a strong interest in flying and learning everything I could about aviation. In 1984, with my family’s encouragement, I joined 132 Spitfire Squadron in Brampton and spent six excellent years as a cadet, followed by five years as an officer. I fondly remember all the camping trips, tours, summer camps, and parade nights that taught me the self discipline, leadership, and teamwork that have been vital to my success as an airline pilot and professor. I had so much fun learning the skills that I would eventually use every day in my career. I had no idea at the time how much my time with the Air Cadets would shape my future. I owe the Air Cadets a debt of gratitude because of all the opportunities I received: Summer camps where I learned to fly; an international exchange to Germany where I experienced a different culture; and the leadership skills that comes with progressing up the ranks as a cadet, to name a few. Most importantly, though, I think about the strong bonds and friendships that I formed. These memories and experiences will stay with me forever, and I encourage all young people to take advantage of all that Air Cadets has to offer. (132 Spitfire Squadron 1984-1990)
Gary Anderson, Air Canada Pilot/Flight Instructor and Professor – Seneca College Aviation Program
“The cadets played an important role in my life. When I joined 51 Air Cadet Squadron in Ottawa, and then 783 Air Cadet Squadron in Montreal, I had no idea how the adventure and experience would influence my career. I quickly realized the value of the activities and diverse programs that were offered. During the course of the six years that I spent as a cadet, their programs provided me with decision-making skills that I still use today. Moreover, the guidance and advice I received from mentors helped me develop my leadership skills and their influence guided me to structure my education with clear professional goals. In addition, the constant challenges that were placed in front of me prepared me for my future. But above all, it is as a cadet that I discovered the fascinating world of aviation for which I developed a profound passion that still drives me today.”