Frequently Asked Questions
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How much does it cost to join? Is this program really free? What’s the catch?
Mostly free. DND provides the basic funding for much of the essential mandatory training, but 918 Sqn does far, far more than the minimum. Additional training and opportunities do cost the squadron money, but not the cadet.
Cadets and, to some degree, cadet parents are expected to help fundraise and volunteer their time to assist the squadron and some community service groups. Some refer to this as “sweat equity” instead of an enrolment fee. Generally speaking, the overwhelming majority of cadet activities are free. If selected for summer training courses, attending cadets are actually provided a small training bonus of $60 per week to help offset some incidentals and for a bit of spending money (snacks, souvenirs, etc.).
Uniforms are provided, but cadets are expected to take care of them. This can mean some small costs for things like an ironing cloth, shoe polish for example. If finances are still a concern, please speak with the officers and we can work with you to ensure finances are not a limiting issue.
Are cadets members of the military? Will I have to join after?
No, and no. The cadet program is provided through a partnership between the Department of National Defence, and the Air Cadet League of Canada.
Cadets are not, at any time, enrolled in the Canadian Forces. They are taught and supervised by Canadian Forces officers a curriculum designed and maintained by the Canadian Forces, but cadets are not members.
Similarly, cadets make absolutely no commitments regarding future military service and are free to leave at any time.
However, those who decide to join the Forces later on start out with the advantage of having learned valuable skills through Cadets. Many successful military members were former cadets – like Canadian astronauts (and former fighter pilots) Chris Hadfield, Jeremy Hansen, and Joshua Kutryk.
I don’t want to join the military. Is it still worth joining cadets?
Absolutely! Cadets who successfully complete the program and “age out” or retire at the age of 19 have a wealth of experience that makes them better people and more valuable to future employers. By the time they age out, most cadets will have:
- Been instructing youth for 1-2 years
- Learned how to evaluate and provide feedback, informally and formally
- Been leading groups of various sizes for 3 years
- Able to prioritize tasks and time manage
- Developed initiative and responsibility
- Planned, organized, and executed events
- Grown comfortable and confident communicating in front of groups
These skills are normally years ahead of other peers, and form an excellent foundation of leadership in any organization, civilian or military.
This is on top of developing friendships with other youth across Calgary and Canada, and getting to participate in some fun and unique experiences and opportunities not easily available outside of our program like flying scholarships.
Do cadets travel anywhere?
Definitely! For summer training, Cadets travel to one of 28 summer training centres located in different parts of Canada.
Some cadets are able to participate in CAF familiarization tours across various military bases across Canada. In the 2018-2019 training year, 918 Squadron sent cadets to the Yukon and Atlantic provinces as part of such CAF familiarization opportunities.
In addition, selected Cadets go on exchange trips to countries such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Australia, the United States and Belgium under an international exchange program. Exchange Cadets are selected on their high standards in performance, fitness and involvement in cadet activities.
More locally, cadets often travel to areas across Southern Alberta and the prairie provinces to participate in survival training, as well as training (and competitions) held at other squadrons and cadet corps.
Except in unique circumstances, all travel is free for cadets.
What is Summer Training?
For those interested, cadets have the opportunity to apply for training at various summer training centres located across Canada. Courses range from two to eight weeks in duration. Each training session offers a unique mixture of outdoor activities and valuable instruction.
Attendance at Cadet Summer Training is free. The Canadian Forces provide all transportation, meals, lodging and special equipment. Every Cadet attending summer camp receives a training allowance for incidental costs and small expenses (ex: sweet treats, course shirts, souvenirs, etc.), normally $60 per week. Cadets in hired to fill staff cadet positions (advanced training) receive a salary similar to any other job. Current pay rates (Jul 2019) range from $90-$110/day, depending on the job and rank assigned after Staff Cadet Indoc.
Courses offered include training in leadership, instructional techniques, music, marksmanship, flying, navigation, meteorology, air traffic control, ceremonial drill, physical education, survival training, aerospace studies and citizenship. Cadets can qualify for glider scholarships and powered flight scholarships, and can earn their Transport Canada Glider Pilot or Private Pilot licences for free.
More details on summer training courses available to air cadets can be viewed here.
Is being a cadet hard/challenging/demanding?
It can be. We do our best to make sure our expectations of you are as clear as possible, and we provide training and guidance to help you get there, but we can’t do the work for you. You will learn an amazing amount and experience lots, if you put in the effort. As you progress in rank and responsibility, the challenges and demands will grow, but so does the reward.
Don’t be afraid to embrace the challenge and high demands. The more you engage and participate in our program and our Squadron, the more you will gain from it.
I am 15 years old. Is it too late to join cadets?
No. We will accept interested youth between the ages of 12-18.
However, the older you are and the later you join, the more difficult it can be to catch up and earn opportunities. There is currently no formal textbook or single master reference manual you can learn from to help bridge the gap of sometimes years of experience. Staff and Sr NCOs will help work with you to bridge the gap, but ultimately, you’ll be responsible for learning rapidly and integrating quickly.
Cadets who are old enough have the option of training at an accelerated pace. This comes with the opportunity to work with cadets closer to your own age group and slightly faster promotions. However, you will soon be expected to perform to the same standard as your peers, who may have 2-3 years of experience. This can be difficult, but it is not impossible for those who are self motivated and driven.
Additional details and instructions on the late joiner accelerated training option are found on the info sheet. This includes instructions on steps to take for existing first year cadets.