AWESOME CADET:“Because of the leadership skills I developed as a Cadet, I was promoted to crew chief

February 17th 2023
Awesome Cadet: “Because of the leadership skills I developed as a Cadet, I was promoted to crew chief after eight months on the job” - CPO1 Colin Douglas

Leadership skills, such as teamwork, communication, and decision making, are highly valued in many industries. The Cadet Program provides such a supportive and challenging environment for youth to develop these skills, which can have a lasting impact on their future success.

CPO1 Colin Douglas' story is a testament to the skills and experience gained through the cadet program. As the experiences of the cadet program continue to serve cadets and volunteers, especially the sense of community and camaraderie that is fostered in the cadet program, we present CPO1 Colin's interview for you to cherish.

Tell us the story of how you joined the Cadet Organization. What motivated you to initially join and what has kept you engaged and involved in the program? 
I joined the Sea Cadets shortly before I turned 13 and left the program on my 19th birthday in October 2022. Sea cadets started for me when a friend of mine told me about the Air Cadet program, which sounded like a lot of fun. We moved soon after and the Sea Cadet Corps was closer to home than the Air Cadets. When I look back and wonder why I stayed in the Cadet program, why I didn't let school, friends, jobs, have a higher priority, I think of my mentor, Cameron Baker. Cameron was a Chief Petty Officer Second Class when I first met him. Shortly after I arrived, the current Chief Petty Officer and Coxswain retired and Cameron took his place. Watching Cameron take on the roles and responsibilities of a leader is what made inspired me. As I watched him grow in his ability to lead, I knew that was where I wanted to stand in the years to come. It was this mentor-mentee relationship that made me stayed in program and achieve the role that Cameron had. If Cadets don't have that relationship, it doesn't take much for them to lose interest in participating in the Cadet Program.
What have been the highlights of your Cadet Career?
What I enjoyed the most about Sea Cadets was the structure, the training and the friends I made there. I enjoyed a few summers at Quadra where I earned my Can Sail 5 level. I really enjoyed the regattas and even won the 1st place trophy for Commodores Cup when we raced at the Vancouver Yacht Club (2019). I became a proficient marksman while leading the range team, and I learned a lot of leadership skills through my petty-officer ranks. Sea Cadets was a chapter in my life to prepare for a future career in the armed forces - a career plan that I still have.
One of the goals of the Sea Cadet program is to develop future leaders and active citizens with a genuine interest in their community and country. How do you think your participation in the cadet program has set you up for success as you are faced with challenges in the future?
 After graduating from high school, I had the opportunity to start working at my first full-time job as a landscaper. Because of the leadership skills I developed in cadets, I was promoted to crew chief after eight months on the job. This means I am responsible for my own truck and crew, and making sure the daily schedule is followed. When I am faced with problems that seem too big, I think back to cadet training. You have to take things step by step and solve them as a team. This is what has helped me overcome many big challenges, including being on my own as an adult. I am also in the process of training to become a volunteer firefighter at my local community fire station. The Sea Cadet training program has allowed me to adapt to a similar model of weekly and weekend training.
How did you feel winning the 2022 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet of the Year, and what advice would you want to share with those who might be on the fence about joining the Cadet programs?
I was truly surprised and honoured to have been selected for the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet of the Year. Being a part of the Cadet program is a unique opportunity to not only develop teamwork and leadership skills (among other things), but to grow as a person. The skills learned in this setting develop my mental and physical strength. You learn to trust yourself more, as well as gain the kind of confidence that only comes with experience. You will be pushed, but it will allow you to grow in a safe and structured environment, with instructors to guide you and friends to encourage and grow with you. Not to mention creating friendships that will last a lifetime. I highly recommend anyone to join the Sea Cadets or any other program.
If you were to address the national partners in the Leagues and DND/CAF, what advice and recommendations would you provide on how to make the Cadet Programs more attractive to young people and how to rebuild the program after the restrictions of the past two years? 
Summer camps are a key part of a young Cadet or teenager's growth and development. It fosters independence as well as camaraderie. I will never forget the lessons I learned and the friends I made. I would say that another important part of my success as a Cadet was the relationship I had with my Commanding Officer. The interaction that our commanders had, encouraging us, challenging us, and giving us opportunities, allowed us to grow faster and further than if there was no interaction. We felt like we were part of a larger group and had someone to look up to.

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