By Sue Tiffin
The 1129 Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps took part in their annual inspection on June 15 bringing an end to a very busy year – so busy you might have seen some of the members of the Corps who are between 12 and 18 engaging in the program throughout the week.
On Sunday afternoons they mountain bike on Sunday evenings they rock climb. On Monday nights they train with the Haliburton Highlanders Pipes and Drums and on Tuesday they attend their weekly meetings from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. engaging in orienteering programs biathlon training citizenship activities and learning the skills to camp build shelters filter water start fires and survive in any situation. On Thursday nights they study marksmanship.
“They don’t have to do everything” said Corina (Hall) Mansfield newly named commanding officer. “Some kids are really into marksmanship some kids mountain biking some do everything. It’s based on their availability their schedule what they’re able to do. We know how hard parents work to get kids to things we try to make sure we’re mindful of that keep it local.”
Besides the programming local cadets also engage directly with the community volunteering so steadfastly that it’s not uncommon for them to accumulate the 40 mandatory volunteer hours required by the Ontario Ministry of Education within their first or second year of high school.
“Our program the way we offer it has changed a little bit” said Mansfield. “There isn’t a lot of ‘army’ in army cadets anymore it’s all expedition-based basically. All the skills are the same it’s just a little bit different.”
Mansfield said that although the program is funded by the Department of National Defence and the Army Cadet League donations from community organizations also help make it available free of charge.
“The program’s completely free for kids and in a world where people are paying for ice time and soccer cleats and every program under the sun and driving all over the place it’s really refreshing to have a program that’s professionally run by well-trained staff and insured by the army and it’s free.”
The program attracts interested and motivated kids from a wide demographic according to Mansfield.
“Finances are never going to be a determining factor as to whether or not a kid can be involved” she said. “Our kids are from all walks of life it doesn’t matter what your parents do for a living it doesn’t matter if your family has expendable income or not you can come out and do all these programs.”
Mansfield was a cadet herself from the age of 12 to 18 returning to the Corps as a civilian instructor and then as a cadet instructor after moving back to the area in 2008.
“I liked the program when I was a kid it was a really big part of my life and it gave me tons of opportunities” she said. “We have such a great group of kids [and] we can facilitate a fantastic opportunity for them in a really safe and well-managed environment.”
At that time there were about 60 kids involved in the program compared to just under 20 now.
“The program’s in such a great place right now the Corps is in such a great place” said Mansfield. “My goal is just to continue with what we’re doing make sure the program stays strong and that we can keep offering it hopefully grow the Corps.”
Dan Collings who stepped down as longtime commanding officer at the June 15 year-end parade told the Echo he had been wanting to move on to new challenges but wanted to ensure the Corps continued to excel in leadership and programs.
Collings has lived in Haliburton for almost 30 years 26 of which he said were with the local Army Cadet Corps and 17 as commanding officer.
“Corina was a brand new cadet when I started here ‘way back when’” he said. “I have high hopes expectations and confidence in her carrying the torch.”
Collings said he wished the best to the Haliburton 1129 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps as he pursued his next Canadian Forces posting.
“The last several years I could not have asked for a better bunch of cadets” he said. “Our current group is stellar – motivated dedicated committed caring respectful – like a family. I have so much affection and respect for them. They will be some of the best future leaders in any community they sink their roots.”