Pelham’s 613 Army Cadet Corps is looking for a few good men…and women.
Founded in 1977 and affiliated with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment in St. Catharines, the 613 Corps’ aim is to promote good citizenship, physical fitness, and interest in the land, air and sea elements of the Canadian Forces. There is no requirement that cadets join the military when they’ve completed the program.
Captain Leo Giovenazzo, Commanding Officer of the 613, told the Voice that currently the Corps is sitting at around 25 guys and girls, ages 12 to 18, drawn from Welland and Pelham. Weekly meetings are held on Wednesday evenings at the Legion in Fonthill. Cadets leave the program when they turn 19, so there is a need to replenish the ranks, said Giovenazzo. He expects the Corps will reconvene on October 7.
Some 613 cadet graduates have gone into active service with the Canadian Forces, while others have joined the reserve unit of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. A few have attended the Royal Military College at Kingston, and others have been on active duty in Afghanistan as regular infantry.
Shooting and firearm safety is a component of the program.
“Cadets get the opportunity to go out to the military range with the Lincoln and Welland regiment and shoot the C7 combat rifle, but the bulk of our marksmanship program involves air rifles,” said Giovenazzo.
The cadets have a 10-metre range in the basement of the Legion, and the most skilled shooters compete as a team in regional marksmanship contests.
Cadets are taught military history and drill formations, along with leadership and instructional techniques. They also participate in orienteering (which involves compass and map work) and biathlon competitions.
Giovenazzo said he has a leadership team of six, which includes commissioned officers in the Canadian Forces, plus some adult supervisor civilian volunteers.
“The 613 is a small corps, so we really create something of a family atmosphere. Our instructors are graduates of the cadet program. We have an alumni page that keeps people connected, and helps maintain lasting friendships,” said Giovenazzo.
Remembrance Day is an important event for the Corps, with cadets canvassing for poppy donations, and taking part in the honor guard flag ceremonies.
Warrant Officer Molly Ryan hails from Welland, and is commencing her fifth and final year with the corps. She attends Brock University, studying concurrent education, and plans to be a French and mathematics teacher upon graduation.
“Girls have a lot of opportunity in the Corps,” said Ryan. “They don’t treat you differently than the boys. We even have an annual workshop in female empowerment. Cadets is a great experience, and will definitely boost your confidence as to what you can achieve. You’ll learn leadership, discipline, and organization…and especially teamwork.”