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Air cadets program teaches leadership and more

When Warrant Officer Second Class Greg Porter listed the skills he learned during his time with the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets, he mentioned self-confidence, self-control, survival skills, aerospace skills and knowledge and first aid.
Several of the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets were on parade during their weekly meeting on April 3.
Several of the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets were on parade during their weekly meeting on April 3.

When Warrant Officer Second Class Greg Porter listed the skills he learned during his time with the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets, he mentioned self-confidence, self-control, survival skills, aerospace skills and knowledge and first aid.

What he didn't mention was that with those first aid skills he'd learned he'd saved a life this past summer.

Trent Porter, Greg's father, mentioned it instead. He said Greg had saved a life at cadet camp in the summer by clearing a choking cadet's airwaves.

Then his son “carried on with his day,” Trent said, and when asked about it said he was “just doing my job.”

Trent said Greg was recognized by the commanding officer of the base and then again by the commanding officer of western Canada for his actions that day.

Greg was attending his last meeting as a cadet on April 3 as he was “aging out” of the program. The No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets are looking for more cadets to join up, and Greg encouraged people to consider it.

“I highly recommend cadets,” he said, noting he was “very sad” to be concluding his time there. He'd started when he was 12 after being inspired by stories from his father and sister, both of whom were in the cadets program.

“I loved my experience,” Greg said, adding he had the chance to learn and see things he'd never have been able to without the program.

Other highlights for him included making friends all over the country as a result of the travel he was able to do with the cadets.

His years with the cadets helped him become more self-confident after starting off shy, he said.

“Now I've learned to adjust,” he said. Greg said that would-be cadets shouldn't be intimidated by what they have to learn.

“Once you get in the system and you start doing it, you'll learn and it sticks with you forever,” Greg said.

The squadron Greg is a part of, the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets, is in its 70th year of operation. The group started as the No. 7 Penhold squadron, changed to No. 7 Markerville for five years and then changed back to Penhold.

Officer Cadet Jolyne Crashley said the squadron is gearing up for the end of their season in early June but encourages interested youth to consider signing up to start in the fall.

“We're always looking for more,” Crashley said. Currently they have 36 cadets “on parade” that come from Penhold, Innisfail, Springbrook, Sylvan Lake, Eckville, Markerville and other central Alberta communities.

The program is for youth aged 12 to 18. Crashley said it is not meant to be recruitment for the armed forces.

One of the advantages of the program is a relatively low cost to participate, Crashley said.

“There's not a lot of cost but there is a lot provided,” she said.

The cadets program teaches things like responsibility, independence and respect, she said.

“We're teaching them leadership, good morals, values,” Crashley said.

Also a parent of participants, Crashley said the results of the cadets going away for camp or similar activities can be seen on their return.

“They come home grown up,” she said, adding that the youth participating are “good representatives of the teenage group we have in society.”

The cadets season starts just after school begins in September. The Penhold group meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Red Deer Regional Airport in Springbrook. During the Tuesday night sessions the cadets go on parade and attend classes that cover topics from things like citizenship to aerospace activities.

On Sundays extra-curricular parts of the group like band, drill team, range team and others meet to practice. The drill team recently returned after placing second in competition and the band students are heading out to be leveled soon.

Spring exercises held in May are “all cadet run,” Crashley said. Cadets will participate in activities like orienteering and first aid.

The exercises will be run by senior cadets, who take on the roles of mentors and teachers for younger cadets.

“As you move up your responsibility becomes more,” Crashley said. Cadets are able to move up in rank over their time with the group.

Those interested in registering for the No. 7 Penhold Royal Canadian Air Cadets can call 403-754-5228.