Canadian army

Didsbury cadets welcome new CO

Todd MacDonald says Didsbury Service Battalion 3025 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps strives to develop tomorrow’s leaders and team players today

DIDSBURY — The new commanding officer of Didsbury Service Battalion 3025, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, says the free program provides young people with the tools to become responsible and engaged citizens.

Previously serving the corps for over six years as Deputy Commanding Officer along with Chief of Training Captain Todd MacDonald, who on Saturday April 23 was officially sworn in at a change of command ceremony at the Didsbury Elks Hall said: “Our main focus is teamwork. It is fundamental. They can use the skills they learned from us about teamwork, leadership, and esprit de corps, and they can use them in different ways.

That could include everything from school sports to future career paths and everything in between, MacDonald said Tuesday, April 26, in an interview, adding that the choice is ultimately up to each cadet.

“We don’t teach them to be soldiers,” he said. “We teach them to be team players.”

The ceremony was presided over by the lieutenant-colonel. Graham Longhurst, commanding officer of the 41st Calgary Service Battalion. Longhurst joined the Army Cadets at the age of 13, participating in many activities along the way, including exchanges in the United Kingdom and Germany.

The program eventually led him to pursue a military career that spanned from touring Bosnia and Herzegovina to Sudan as part of a UN mission as well as a deployment to Afghanistan as a logistics mentor with the Center military training in Kabul and later in Kosovo as part of a UN mission. of NATO’s mission to bring stability to this war-torn country.

“It’s been quite an honor to have him here,” said MacDonald, who became Commandant of Didsbury Army Cadets after a tenure from Capt Tim Kaczmarski, who served in the program for more than two decades.

Kaczmarski remains on board with the Didsbury Corps of Cadets and takes over MacDonald’s former roles as Deputy Commanding Officer and Chief of Training.

COVID-19 reduces membership

Asked how Didsbury Army Cadets have fared over the past two years during the pandemic, MacDonald said membership has been hit hard.

“We’ve come down significantly,” he said.

Before COVID-19 prompted sweeping public health measures to stem the spread of the virus, the cadets numbered more than 40 members.

But that number has since fallen to the low 30s, he said, adding some seniors out of the program after turning 19, but others leaving largely through attrition when the program had little access. ‘options available but to go virtual.

“They didn’t want to be online,” he said. “You can’t blame them. Who wants to walk online? »

Videos are definitely useful for teaching students and introducing them to new information. But a pre-recorded lesson on a screen simply cannot replace the physical presence and human interaction of a skilled instructor who can help cadets understand where they might go wrong, such as tying a tricky knot, a- he declared.

People tend not only to learn, but more importantly to retain information better by doing, rather than just hearing or seeing, he said.

And practicing parade routines via webcam also had little appeal for members, he said.

“How do you practice turns and walking procedures,” he asked rhetorically. “You can’t do that online.”

Back to in-person meetings

Fortunately, he said, cadets have been able to resume in-person rallies for more than a month.

“But with very strict protocols,” he added. “Masking is mandatory, spacing too.”

So, although there are still no parades, which require close proximity, the cadets can still practice what is called a static parade, which is how the handover ceremony took place. command, he said.

“The cadets were in position, maximizing the space,” he said.

During Thursday’s practice sessions, he said the cadets are able to drill in person, but in their own six-foot-by-six-foot bubbles in which they perform their maneuvers.

The Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps high command is approaching the easing of pandemic restrictions from what MacDonald called a “crawl, walk, run” philosophy.

“Right now we are crawling and walking. So we are very careful,” he said. “Their biggest concern is the health and safety of cadets and their families. We don’t want the kids to bring home anything from the cadets. And we can enjoy it, and we stick to it.

Depending on the evolution of the number of cases and hospitalizations, he foresees a further easing of the measures in the coming months.

“But right now everything is generated from Ottawa,” he said, adding that the situation remains unpredictable and changes every week.

Responsible and engaged citizens

Responding to a question about what he likes most about the program, MacDonald said he relishes the opportunity to see cadets mature and embark on a path to becoming responsible, self-respecting adults and citizens. committed who are proud not only of their country, but also of their community.

“It really does feel good in your heart,” he said, adding that parents will also express their appreciation for the positive influence on their children’s lives.

Getting involved in caddies also provides participants with the opportunity to develop teamwork and leadership skills without having to play sports they otherwise wouldn’t be able to play due to physical or financial constraints, he said. he declares.

“It’s all in the team. We call it esprit de corps,” he said, which loosely translates from French as “group morale.”

With family roots linking him to this region, MacDonald, whose grandmother was born in Didsbury, said from a personal perspective that his involvement with cadets gives him a chance to contribute to the lives of future leaders, movers and community agitators.

He expressed his gratitude for being able to be part of an effort to leave a legacy encouraging young people to strive to be the best versions of themselves, which he sees as an investment in the coming.

“I think that’s the most inspiring thing for me,” he said. “In cadets, there are no limits,” he said, adding that famous retired Canadian astronaut, engineer and fighter pilot Colonel Chris Hadfield – among many other renowned Canadians and influential – was once a cadet.

So, MacDonald is happy to see that there are teenagers from all over the region coming to take advantage of the program and hopes to see more.

“And what’s really cool is that it costs the cadets or their families nothing,” he said. “It’s a free program – everything is paid for.”

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.