Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of everything we do, and the hands behind all our accomplishments since  the Navy League of Canada was incorporated. An incredible 3,000 volunteers in over 200 communities across Canada continue to make a positive impact on future leaders.

One of these volunteers is Lt(N) Kevin Daeninck, who enrolled as a sea cadet on March 17th, 1988, returned to the corps as a Reserve-Force officer in the CIC (Cadet-Instructors-Cadre) Branch in 1994, and currently serves as the Commanding Officer of #49 RCSCC John Travers Cornwell Victoria Cross in Winnipeg Manitoba.

Before his current role, Lt(N) Daeninck held every senior officer position within the unit, including Administration Officer, Training Officer, Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer. In today’s Awesome Volunteer Series, Lt(N) Daeninck shares his 33 years of progressive journey with the Cadet program. Enjoy.

 Can we know more about you before joining the Cadet program?

 Previous to becoming a volunteer, I was a Sea Cadet with RCSCC John Travers Cornwell VC. Towards the end of my time as a cadet, I began attending the University of Manitoba. After I “aged out” of the Sea Cadet program, I spent a few months away from the Corps before returning as a volunteer. I eventually became a CIC Officer with RCSCC John Travers Cornwell VC and to date I have served two terms as Commanding Officer.

 

How did your journey as a Volunteer start?

 When I turned 19 and my time as a cadet came to an end, I wanted to give back to the Corps and the program that I greatly enjoyed and had so many positive experiences with. Shortly after I “aged out” of the Sea Cadet program, I approached the Commanding Officer and discussed with him the possibility of me becoming a regular volunteer with the Corps. He brought me on as a volunteer and I supported the New Entry Training program. I worked with the new cadet recruits in their first few weeks with the Corps and taught them the basics about being a Sea Cadet. I also supported the Corps’ Training Department as an instructor. A few years later, the Commanding Officer asked me if I would like to become an Officer with the Corps. This was a goal of mine, so I jumped at the opportunity. That was nearly 30 years ago – and here we are today.

 

What is the most interesting thing for you as a Volunteer?

 One really interesting thing that stands out for me is seeing how the cadets learn new skills and develop into confident, young leaders as they progress through the program. When new recruits are told during their first night orientation that eventually, they will be the ones giving orders on the parade deck and teaching classes about sailing, seamanship, navigation, leadership, drill, and much more to their fellow cadets, they often reply with something like “Noooooooo way! I can’t do that!” A few years later when they become a Petty Officer or they are receiving an award, I ask them if they still “can’t do that?” I often get a great big smile in response.

 That transformation is magical.

 

As the Navy League’s CIC Officer of the Year, what is your advice to other officers and potential volunteers?

 To the many volunteers currently supporting the Navy League and Sea Cadet programs, a hearty thank-you and “Bravo Zulu” for all of the time and effort you collectively put forth in supporting your local Corps and their sponsoring Branches, along with the support many of you also give to the provincial/territorial and national Divisions. Your support for these programs provides Canadian youth with opportunities to participate in some very positive, engaging, and unique experiences and greatly contributes to their development into confident young citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

To those who may be considering becoming a volunteer, I would say: “Dive right in and get involved!” Navy League and Sea Cadet Corps don’t just happen on their own. Corps need PEOPLE to deliver the program and to inspire, lead and support those within their programs.

To adults who are unfamiliar with the Navy League or Sea Cadet programs, I can appreciate that seeing what happens on a weekly training night or a weekend training activity may seem a little overwhelming. You may be asking yourself “What could I possibly contribute to this organization? Will I have to wear one of those Officer uniforms? Will I have to teach cadets how to tie knots and march around like the cadets? Nooooooo way! I can’t do that!”  (sound familiar???).

It is important to remember that support from volunteers comes in many forms. You may not be the best at tying basic knots, know what semaphore is, or even how to sail a boat, but you may have a certain skill set a Corps or their sponsoring Branch may need, or you might be able to help a Corps access certain networks and/or resources within the community. Yes, some volunteers do choose to become Officers with their respective programs, as I did. That is a choice, not a requirement. You should also know that not all volunteers instruct classes for cadets, so no worries if public speaking is not something you are comfortable doing. You may be available to work with a Corps weekly or may only be available a couple of times per month or a few times per year. Just be sure to communicate what you have to offer, or what you are wanting to do, and your availability with the staff at the Corps you are hoping to become a volunteer with. I am confident that they will be able to find a role for you within their organization that works for you.