TRURO – ‘Build it and they will come’ seems to be working for one local service group.
For the past couple of years, volunteers have been renovating a former warehouse on Glenwood Drive in Truro to keep up with a growing enrolment in a local Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.
“We’re getting more kids in here, that’s why we need the room,” said Gene Bell, liaison officer between the sponsor group AFAC 102 Wing Truro and the 77 Arrowhead Truro Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron, which now calls the renovated building home.
“We’ve been working on it for more than two years.”
The Arrowheads have been a part of the Colchester County community since 1978 when the squadron was based in Debert. It remained there until 2003 when it was moved to the Truro area.
“They were in several places over that time but they didn’t have a formal home,” said Bell.
Interest in the program had also waned, with enrolment dropping to about 10 members three years ago, with only six parading.
Jamie Caudle, who had been involved with the program for more than 18 years as a participant, volunteer and leader, took over command of the squadron during that time.
“It made me sad to see that,” said Caudle. “I was sad because of the number of young people that were losing the opportunity to be a part of the cadet organization. To experience opportunities that can only be found in cadets.”
Today, the squadron’s membership has quadrupled; sitting at 40 strong and there is room for more.
“A lot of them are hearing about it through word of mouth and how much fun these kids are having,” said Caudle. “We’ve also gone to schools and done recruiting at other events.”
The program focuses on leadership, community service and physical fitness building self-confidence while offering many activities such as marksmanship, sports, music, first aid, gliding, power flying, survival, camping, drill and marching.
The group hosts a Cadet Day in November to educate the public about the program, participate in events such as services for Remembrance Day, Bass River’s Peacekeeping Day, Battle of Britain and Battle of the Atlantic; support the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy drive and this year joined local legion members in support of the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign.
Volunteers have spent many hours filling cracks and holes in walls at the squadron’s new home, as well as replacing doors, smoothing concrete floors and creating a fully stocked supply room to meet the growing demand for uniforms and equipment.
“The kids see the effort that we are making,” said Bell. “When they know you are working for them they work for you and learn to take pride in what they do.
“They see we care about the community and they do too.”
WO1 MacKenzie Young has been with the program for the past five years, the first three with a squadron in Amherst and two in Truro as he witnessed the resurgence of membership.
He joined after hearing about the program from a friend and has made many new friends and had one-of-a-kind experiences during his time with the squadron.
“The first thing that comes to mind is being able to fly in a C130 Hercules, which was on my list of things to do,” said Young, adding his family has ties to the Canadian air force.
“My grandfather was in the air force and I grew up down around Greenwood so I would see them going by.”
Young said gliding, touring 14 Wing Greenwood, participating in bush trips and sports camps were also highlights of the program, along with meeting new friends and being a part of community events.
“The community sees you are there supporting them and there is a real sense of pride and belonging in the community,” said the warrant officer.
Cadets meet at 68 Glenwood Dr., Truro every Thursday evening at 6 p.m.
For more information about the Truro program, call Caudle at 843-3168 or visit www.cadets.ca for information about squadrons in Brookfield and Tatamagouche.
AT A GLANCE
• The Royal Canadian Air Cadet program is open to children age 12 and up
• They do many activities that relate to flying such as gliding, first aid, survival, team sports, music, effective leadership and speaking training, summer camps and international trips, military marching and parades.
• There is no registration fees or dues to join the program. Uniforms are also provided free of charge.
• For more information about the 77 Arrowhead Truro RCACA call 843-3168. The RCAC program is also offered by squadrons in Brookfield and Tatamagouche.