15-year-old Aiden Lewis was recently praised by commanders at a regional summer cadet camp as outstanding in many areas, the Canadian Armed Forces said The northern view on July 11.
Like many youngsters aged 13 and over, now a Petty Officer 2nd Class, Lewis was looking for adventure and opportunity. As a member of 7 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Captain Cook detachment, he participated in a two-week Cadet Activity Program (CAP) with more than 15 other young adults from the air, army and sea cadets from several northwest communities, including Terrace and Kitimat .
Lewis, who lives with his grandmother and two sisters in Prince Rupert, said he first learned about the cadet program in 5th grade. Family members had been in the program and often said how much they enjoyed and learned from it, which piqued his interest.
“My aunts had come along and they said they went on the water a lot and traveled around the world … to England and Australia when they were older. I wanted to join because I thought it was cool. I thought , it was exciting,” he said.
Aiden volunteered to wear the blue uniform as soon as he could when he was 12.
Cadet Lewis plans to join the military when he is of legal age. He doesn’t know what field or career he will end up in, but as a young man and student at Charles Hays Secondary School, he still has time to find out. He said the skills he is learning in Sea Cadets will help him.
During the recent summer camp, he said he learned leadership skills as he had to supervise the younger cadets and teach lessons. He said it was beneficial to learn to teach by sharing knowledge and experiences. Activities taught were marksmanship, drill and the phonetic alphabet.
The camp was hosted in Terrace by the Air Cadet 747 Unicorn Squadron. Lewis said he arrived at the barracks a few days before other cadets. Meals were provided and he is especially grateful to the airport cook, Martha, who kept them fed. For the first few days, he said he ate ‘MRE’s’ (prepared ready to eat) military rations, which are not as bad as people make them out to be. When the other cadets arrived, they set up ‘Mod Tents’ with cots.
Besides setting up the tents with field beds, one of the many skills Lewis was taught was how to build a makeshift shelter when he gets lost in the woods. An improvised shelter is generally made from items gathered from the forest floor and in one’s possession to provide a refuge from the elements while a person awaits rescue.
“We tested them first to make sure they were waterproof. We left them out overnight because it was raining quite a bit,” he said.
Part of what he was praised for was that his bivouac was made in a few hours from logs and three army halves. Cadet Lewis enjoyed the shelter class, but learning the phonetic alphabet and talking on the radio was the most fun for him, he said.
In addition to wilderness survival and radios, Lewis did a lot of interesting activities with the other cadets, including visits to the Operations and Maintenance building at Terrace Airport, the Heritage Park Museum and a day on the water in the Douglas Channel with the crew of Station 63 of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Kitimat.
The cadets even had the opportunity to create and launch water-powered bottle rockets from old two-liter pop bottles.
Adien said he learned about the RAF base in Terrace, where the airport is now. He found it particularly interesting to learn about the mutiny of Canadian Army soldiers in 1944, known as one of the most serious breaches of discipline in Canadian military history. The mutiny was sparked by a rumor that conscripts would be sent abroad.
Lewis said he had a lot of fun at the camp, participating in activities not normally offered in Prince Rupert.
“I really liked CAP and have had a lot of fun,” he said. “Yeah, there were things this summer CAP we don’t do here at home.”
“I’m really looking forward to coming back in the fall and want to go on the Northern Thunder exercise,” he said, adding that it’s a multi-unit cadet exercise held near Prince George. So since it’s held over Thanksgiving weekend, he might not get a turkey dinner since they’ll likely be eating MREs, he said.
When not spending time with cadets, the high school senior can be found playing chess with the school club and has made the football team for the upcoming school year. He recently placed first in the 3000 meters and third in the shot put at the high school regional track and field meet in June.
While dedicated to his family, Aiden loves to ride bikes with his sister and spend time with the family Shetland sheepdog.
Lewis said his education and skills are continuously developed in cadets, and activities in the program can be used for high school graduation credits. One thing he is grateful that cadets have taught him is the value of friendship. He said he has learned to trust other people and to trust others.
KJ Millar | Editor and multimedia journalist
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