Fifteen-year-old Aiden Lewis was recently commended by commanding officers at a regional summer cadet camp as outstanding in many areas, the Canadian Armed Forces told The Northern View on July 11.
Like many youths aged 13 and above, now a petty officer 2nd class, Lewis was looking for adventure and opportunities. As a member of the 7 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Captain Cook branch, he attended a two-week Cadet Activity Program (CAP) with more than 15 other young adults from the air, army and sea cadets from several Northwest communities, including Terrace and Kitimat.
Lewis, who lives with his grandmother and two sisters in Prince Rupert, said he first learned about the cadet program in Grade 5. Family members had been in the program, often saying how much they enjoyed and learned from it, which piqued his interest.
“My aunties had joined and they said they went on the water a lot and travelled around the world … to England and Australia when they were older. I wanted to join because I thought that was cool. I thought it was exciting,” he said.
Aiden signed up to wear the blue uniform as soon as he could when he was 12.
Cadet Lewis plans to join the military when he is age eligible. He doesn’t know what field or career he will end up in, but as a young man and student at Charles Hays Secondary School, he still has time to figure that out. He said the skills he learns in Sea Cadets will help him out.
During the recent summer camp, he said he learned leadership skills as he had to supervise the younger cadets and teach lessons. He said that learning how to teach was beneficial in sharing knowledge and experiences. Activities taught were marksmanship, drill, and the phonetic alphabet.
The camp was hosted in Terrace by the Air Cadet 747 Unicorn Squadron. Lewis said he arrived at the barracks a couple of days before other cadets. Meals were provided and he is especially grateful for the airport cook, Martha, who kept them fed. For the first few days, he said he ate ‘MRE’s’ (made ready to eat) military rations which aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. When the other cadets arrived, they set up ‘Mod tents’ with cots.
Apart from setting up the tents with camp beds, one of the many skills Lewis was taught was how to build an improvised shelter when lost in the woods. An improvised shelter is generally made from items collected from the forest floor and in one’s possession to provide a haven from the elements while a person awaits rescue.
“We tested them first to make sure they were waterproof. We left them out overnight because it rained quite a bit,” he said.
Part of what he was commended on was his bivouac being made in a few hours from logs and three army half shelters. Cadet Lewis enjoyed the shelter lesson but learning the phonetic alphabet and how to talk on radio was the most fun for him, he said.
Besides wilderness survival and radios, Lewis took in a lot of interesting activities with the other cadets, including visits to the Operations and Maintenance building at the Terrace Airport, Heritage Park Museum, and a day on the water in Douglas Channel with the crew at Station 63 of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Kitimat.
The cadets even had the opportunity to create and launch water-powered bottle rockets out of old two-litre pop bottles.
Adien said he learned about the RAF base in Terrace, where the airport is now. He found it especially interesting to learn about the 1944 mutiny of Canadian Army soldiers, which is known as one of the most serious breaches of discipline in Canadian military history. The mutiny was triggered by a rumour that conscripted soldiers would be deployed overseas.
Lewis said he had a tonne of fun at the camp, engaging in activities not usually offered in Prince Rupert.
“I really liked CAP and have had lots of fun,” he said. “Yes, there was stuff at summer CAP we don’t do here at home.”
“I am really looking forward to returning in the fall and want to go on the Northern Thunder exercise,” he said, adding it is a multi-unit cadet exercise held near Prince George. So, as it is held over Thanksgiving weekend, he may not get a turkey dinner as they will probably be eating MRE’s he said.
When he’s not spending time with cadets, the high school lad can be found playing chess with the school club and has made the soccer team for the upcoming school year. More recently, he placed first in 3000-metre and third in shotput for the high school regional athletics meet in June.
While dedicated to his family, Aiden loves biking with his sister and spending time with the family’s Shetland sheepdog.
Lewis said his education and skillset are continuously developing in cadets, and activities in the program can be used for high school graduation credits. One thing he is thankful for that cadets has taught him is the value of friendship. He said he has learned how to rely on other people and to be trusting of others.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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