Capt. Glenn Arksey with 2520 71st Field Battery, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, in Brandon, teaches youth about using a stove at Canadian Forces Base Shilo. (Submitted)

For Capt. Glenn Arksey, being a member of the army cadets isn’t just a hobby but a way of life.

Arksey has worked with the cadet program in Canadian Forces Base Shilo as a member of the Cadet Instructor Cadre, a sub-component of the reserve force, since 2012. He is also currently the commanding officer of 2520 71st Field Battery, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, in Brandon. Previously, Arksey served as a volunteer for a few years and an army cadet for one year.

Originally from Langruth, a small community in the Municipality of Westlake-Gladstone, Arksey began volunteering with the cadet program because of his stepson, who was a cadet at the time.

“I’m the type of person who believes in giving back. I got a lot out of the program when I was a cadet and I wanted to pay it forward,” he said.

When he was young, Arksey had long dreamed of entering the Canadian Armed Forces. Joining the Cadet Instructor Cadre allowed him to achieve that dream while also giving back to his community and what it had provided for his stepchildren.

Through the program, Arksey has been teaching basic skills to children aged 12 to 18, such as public speaking, and more advanced topics, like bushcraft.

“We go out and do field training exercises … how to set up a site, where to put their tents,” he explained.

Arksey put his knowledge into action at the end of April, when he and five other adult staff members and 40 cadets from CFB Shilo, Brandon and Virden took part in a three-day navigation and trekking exercise in Shilo. During the weekend, army cadets lived in backpacking tents, practised map and compass orientation, cooked and ate military rations, and went on five- to 10-kilometre hikes. Arksey was the overall supervisor of the exercise and instructed lessons in camp routine such as lighting stoves.

A lot of children have always been interested in learning wilderness skills and testing their independence, and this has rung even more true for Arksey since the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“What I’ve found is that they want to get out there, they want to socialize with other children. They’re so eager to socialize with cadets their own age, and it’s nice to see.”

Before the pandemic, Arksey spent four summers in Whitehorse as assistant to the operations officer in the cadet program there before becoming the general training platoon commander. He worked with 12- and 13-year-olds on a two-week basis, teaching them the same skills he’s been teaching cadets in Westman.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I did three groups a year, and we got to take them out to overnight sites, and set up tents and cook meals.”

In addition to learning basic survival skills and bushcraft, the youth who took part in the Whitehorse program also got the chance to learn rifle marksmanship, music such as drumming and even biathlon training.

“We give them a little taste of everything so they can make their own decisions for their careers, for which paths they want to take,” Arksey said.

Arksey, who has six years before he ages out of the instructor program at 65, has gotten a lot out of the cadet program as an adult, he said.

“It has really helped me in my career as an educational assistant in high school,” Arksey said. “Volunteering and working with the cadet program has also given me a sense of purpose and satisfaction.”

And even when he does age out, Arksey plans to continue to be a an active supporter of the cadet program in any way possible.

“I can always come back as a volunteer,” he said. “We’re always looking for people in the community who may have some previous experience that would like to come and volunteer, even if it’s one night a month.”

Adults are also needed to help train, administer and supervise the local youth involved in the Canadian Cadet Program. Becoming part of the program is easier than you may think, it’s a lot of fun, and the skills you learn are likely transferable to your regular employment. No previous military or cadet experience is needed.

At the end of the day, for cadets, instructors and volunteers, the program is all about being open to new experiences and continuing to learn and grow at any age, Arksey said.

“The biggest thing is to put yourself out there and try it. Give it an honest try,” he said. “That’s what I did, and I haven’t looked back.”

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 01, 2023 at 08:01

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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