Kimberley Air Cadet program in jeopardy

More volunteers, and cadets, needed to keep the 77-year old program alive

  • Sep. 19, 2014 8:00 a.m.

CAROLYN GRANT

The Kimberley Air Cadet Squadron has been operating in Kimberley for 77 years, providing a free program teaching Kimberley kids valuable skills and offering thrills like twice a year gliding and flying.

But now the program is in real danger of closing down, says Shireen Brooks, the sponsoring committee chair.

“Enrolment is really down, staff is down,” Brooks said. “If we don’t get more people, including more cadets, we’ll have no choice but to shut it down.

“That would be a real shame. The cadets have been in Kimberley for 77 years. It’s one of the oldest squadrons in B.C. But we have only ten cadets, which is the bare minimum.”

The Cadet Squadron has both military and civilian personnel. Currently Major Sean Ferguson is the military commanding officer. Civilian instructors are also present and more are needed.

“Civilian instructors are anyone with a skill they can teach, maybe outdoor education or public speaking, a musical instrument,” Brooks said. “Civilian instructors can be paid or be direct volunteers. You do have to go through a security screening, but we are very, very flexible in terms of what hours you give or skills you have.”

The program offers a wide variety of opportunities for cadets. In addition to being free — even the uniforms are provided free of charge — it can even  lead to a career.

“It’s a great program,” Brooks said. “We go flying and gliding and there are all kinds of summer camp opportunities all across Canada. It’s a real exciting program. My son did a six-week aircraft mechanics program in Ontario last year and this year, he was actually paid to work on airplanes. And it’s all free. We just ask parents to volunteer.”

The Cadets have also taken over organization of the Remembrance Day ceremony in Kimberley, since the Legion closed.

“The Elks do the luncheon and we do the parade,” Brooks said. “If no other group came forward we would lose the Remembrance Day service as well if the squadron shuts down.”

The Squadron is currently running a recruitment drive. They will be at the Community Fall Fair on September 27 and 28 to provide information and will hold an Open House the following Tuesday, September 30 at the Cadet Hall in Chapman Camp from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. One and all are invited to attend and learn more about the program.

You can also call Major Ferguson at 250-432-9233 or leave a message at the Cadet Hall, 250-427-4220.