Summers Well Spent
By FSgt SIERRA SUN
188 Cobra RCACS
File photos by Lt. Tracy Williams
Every time the question arises, I can easily recognise the anxiety and unease in their eyes. Over the phone, their voice is a dead giveaway; the long pauses of hesitation ooze from the silent line. Some even avoid the question altogether. What is this question that seems to torment so many Cadets?
it’s simple: “Do you want to apply for camp?”
Having been involved in the Air Cadet program for almost five years, I’ve had many camp experiences although it wasn’t very appealing to me at first. In my first year, the idea of being away from home, the pressure to make new friends, living with complete strangers, and not to mention the fear and uncertainty of it all made my head spin. I would have much preferred staying home where I was comfortable and didn’t have to worry about all the ‘what if?’ situations.
Despite all of my efforts in trying to persuade my parents NOT to send me to camp, they did just the opposite. Before I knew it, I was on a bus packed with other shy Cadets. At that point, I was more scared than I had ever been before and I hated my parents for torturing me in this way. It turned out that during my two week stay in Trenton, Ont., I made one of my many best friends with whom I still keep in contact today.
I made plenty of friends and many more memories. This kind of experience could never have happened anywhere else and I realised that my first impression of camp wasn’t at all like I’d imagined.
In the following years, I went to the Introduction to Leadership Course for three weeks and the Oshkosh Exchange trip the summer after. My previous camps had indeed helped with my selection as one of 45 Cadets on the Oshkosh trip in 2010. Unlike many regular camps, the Oshkosh trip was more like a mini-yet-educational vacation. We travelled to Wisconsin and on our journey; we visited many museums, took a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory, splashed around at Wisconsin Dells Water Park, screamed at the tops of our lungs at the Six Flags amusement park as well as discovered the Air Venture Aviation Festival for an entire week. I met so many amazing people from all across Canada and the United States! I still remember what a good time I had that summer.
My most recent camp is the Air Rifle Marksmanship Instructor Course that was held at the Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ont.; it lasted six whole weeks. Let me say that it was…interesting in a sense that my squad was very dysfunctional. This had made my camp experience a little less enjoyable but nevertheless, I was able to hone both my instructing and marksmanship skills. I am now armed (no pun intended) with the proper knowledge for any sort of range activity for my squadron.
This year, I applied for the Gliding Scholarship Course in my region. At this point, candidate selections become very tight. The more camps you have under your belt, the more experience you demonstrate on your application.
Wherever you go, you will always have to restart at one point, whether it’s making new friends or being away from home. You’d think that since I’ve spent many summers doing this and given my outgoing personality, that starting over is easy. On the contrary, I always become the same awkwardly-shy 13-year-old girl who boarded the bus that first summer. Although this first step is necessary, it is in these unforeseen situations that you develop the strongest aspects of your personality. If you waste away your numbered summers worrying about the ‘what ifs’ then you truly are missing out on some of the best opportunities that Cadets has to offer, that life has to offer.
In light of writing this, I hope that this has served as an inspiration to consider not only camp opportunities but opportunities that life may happen to throw your way. If there’s one thing that I tell my fellow Cadets it’s this: It’s better to know and grow rather than to fret about regret.