Aiden Lewis, 15, was recently praised by commanders of a regional cadet summer camp as being exceptional in many areas, the Canadian Armed Forces said. The view from the north July 11.
Like many young people aged 13 and up, now Petty Officer 2nd Class, Lewis was looking for adventure and opportunity. As a member of 7 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Captain Cook Branch, he participated in a two-week Cadet Activities Program (CAP) with more than 15 other young adults from air, l army and sea cadets from several communities in the northwest, including Terrace and Kitimat.
Lewis, who lives with his grandmother and two sisters in Prince Rupert, said he first heard about the cadet program in Grade 5. Family members had participated in the program, often saying how much they enjoyed and learned about it, which piqued his interest.
“My aunts had joined and they said they got on the water a lot and had traveled around the world… to England and Australia when they were older. I wanted to join because I thought it was cool. I thought it was exciting,” he said.
Aiden pledged to wear the blue uniform as soon as he could when he was 12.
Cadet Lewis plans to enlist in the army when he reaches the required age. He doesn’t know what field or career he will end up in, but as a young man and a student at Charles Hays High School, he still has time to find out. He said the skills he learns in sea cadets will help him.
During the recent summer camp, he said he learned leadership skills as he had to supervise younger cadets and give lessons. He said learning to teach was beneficial for sharing knowledge and experiences. The activities taught were marksmanship, drill and the phonetic alphabet.
The camp was hosted in Terrace by 747 Unicorn Air Cadet Squadron. Lewis said he arrived at the barracks a few days before the other cadets. Meals were provided and he is especially grateful to the airport cook, Martha, who fed them. For the first few days he said he ate military “MRE” (prepared to eat) rations which are not as bad as people claim. When the other cadets arrived, they set up “Mod tents” with cots.
Besides setting up the tents with cots, one of the many skills Lewis taught was to build an improvised shelter when he got lost in the woods. An improvised shelter is usually made from items collected from the forest floor and in one’s possession to provide refuge from the elements while a person waits to be rescued.
“We tested them first to make sure they were waterproof. We left them outside overnight because it rained a lot,” he said.
Part of what he was praised for was that his bivouac was made in a matter of hours from logs and three half army shelters. Cadet Lewis enjoyed the shelter lesson, but learning the phonetic alphabet and how to talk on the radio was the most fun for him, he said.
Besides wilderness survival and radios, Lewis participated in many interesting activities with the other cadets, including tours of the operations and maintenance building at Terrace Airport, the Heritage Park Museum and a day on the water at Douglas Channel with the station crew. 63 of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Kitimat.
Cadets even had the opportunity to create and launch water bottle rockets out of old two-liter pop bottles.
Adien said he had heard of the RAF base at Terrace, where the airport is currently located. He found it particularly interesting to learn about the 1944 mutiny of Canadian Army soldiers, known as one of the most serious breaches of discipline in Canadian military history. The mutiny was sparked by a rumor that conscript soldiers would be deployed overseas.
Lewis said he had a lot of fun at camp, participating in activities not usually offered in Prince Rupert.
“I really liked CAP and had a lot of fun,” he said. “Yes, there were things at the summer CAP that we don’t do here at home.”
“I’m really looking forward to coming back in the fall and wanting to participate in Exercise Northern Thunder,” he said, adding that it’s a multi-unit cadet exercise that takes place near Prince George. So since it’s on Thanksgiving weekend, he might not be getting a turkey dinner because they’ll likely be eating MREs, he said.
When he’s not spending time with the cadets, the high schooler plays chess with the school club and has been on the soccer team for the upcoming school year. Most recently, he placed first in the 3,000 meters and third in the shot put for the regional high school track meet in June.
While devoted to his family, Aiden enjoys cycling with his sister and spending time with the family’s Shetland Sheepdog.
Lewis said his education and skills are continually developing in cadets, and program activities can be used for high school graduation credits. He is grateful for one thing the Cadets taught him, and that is the value of friendship. He said he learned to rely on others and to trust others.
KJ Millar | Multimedia editor and journalist
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