By Lokwing Wong
Many people think of summers as a time to relax and enjoy free time and summer camps. For thousands of cadets, however, summer is the time they partake in summer training at Cadet Training Centers across Canada.
My name is Lokwing Wong and I am in Grade 10 at Campbell River Christian School. I have been in the Sea Cadet Program for three years, at both Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corp (RCSCC) Malaspina in Powell River and recently at RCSCC Admiral De Wolf here in Campbell River. The past three years I have undergone training at Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Quadra, located at Goose Spit, Comox.
HMCS Quadra accepts over 800 cadets and 150 staff cadets, as well as numerous officers and civilian instructors from across Canada to train and to instruct. Quadra offers courses of various length – the two-week General Training course, the three-week-long Basic courses, and the six week-long Intermediate and Advanced courses. During the training weeks, many trades are offered, including drill, seamanship, sailing, band, and shipwright. I would like to share my experience in the courses I have taken: General Training, Ship’s Boat Operator, and Boatswain Mate.
Two years ago, I took the two-week General Training (GT) course. This is the course most people take after their first year of cadets. The GT cadets get a taste of everything Quadra has to offer, including dinghy sailing, knot tying, whaler sailing (27’ long boats with pull, power, and sail), band, and drill. In GT we also adjust to camp life – the galley food, making a bed, morning parades, working on uniform, and recreational time in the evenings, and most importantly, being a team throughout the entire course. This course prepared us for what was to come for next year’s course.
Last year, I was accepted into the six-week Ship’s Boat Operator (SBO). Every year about 60 cadets from as far as Ontario are accepted into SBO, where we have a chance to drive powerboats and work with the whalers. Also, we learn radio procedures, basic navigation, and first aid. The grand finale to the SBO course is the three-day long whaler trip where we take the whalers and sail, power, and pull down to the Deep Bay Marine Research Center near Nanaimo. At the end, we received the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), the Restricted Operator Card (Maritime) [ROC(M)], our Standard First Aid with St. John’s Ambulance, and several Sea Cadet qualification badges. Most of the cadets looked forward to taking the Boatswain Mate course.
This summer I took the Boatswain Mate course. Boatswain (or Bosn) Mate is an advanced course where we learned about the Boatswain’s job in the navy and naval tradition. One of my favorite training opportunities was going to Damage Control Training Facility Galiano in Esquimalt, Greater Victoria. Damage control is defined as “action taken to limit the damaging effects of an accident or error” and we indeed learned about what to do in the instances of fire and flood.
At the facility we learned how to fix leaky pipes, familiarize the procedure for fighting fires and use the different fire extinguishers. We also underwent training in the flood room which was a simulation room where we were interactively instructed on what to do in the case of flooding onboard a vessel.
The major aspect of the Boatswain Mate course is sea training. On the PCTs (Patrol Craft Training, or the Orcas) we learn what to do in different emergencies, e.g. fire, flood, steering gear breakdown, man overboard. We also learn what to do while on bridge watch: steering at the helm, being the lifebuoy sentry (watching for a man overboard), being the lookout (this person alerts the Officer of the Watch – OOW of vessels and boats they see), being the Petty Officer of the Watch (this person makes sure that the people in their watch are all doing their jobs, that everything on the vessel is in order, and they make the pipes – which are kind of like announcements that are made at specific times), and being the navigator (this person figures out where the vessel is at on a chart and they make estimations on where the vessel will be in the next few minutes or more).
Near the end of the course, all the Boatswain Mate cadets get chained, meaning we receive our Boatswain chains which signifies that we are now boatswains.
We also took part in the annual Ceremony of the Flags. The Ceremony of the Flags, or C of Fs, takes place three times each summer – once at the Legislature in Victoria, once at the Comox Nautical Days Festival, and once on base primarily for the Quadra alumni. C of Fs is a ceremony featuring a band, two guard divisions, two Naval Field Guns, and very importantly, the flags – one for each province and territory, the Canadian flag, and the sea cadet ensign.
The cadet program not only allows youth to learn various skills, but it teaches cadets to be good citizens and future leaders. In my experience, I have learned many useful skills and also made strong friendships. Most importantly, the program teaches cadets that they can achieve so much more and have a greater potential working as a team rather than as individuals.