HHSS student rises in sea cadet ranks
Sonora Plumb says cadet program a place of growth and acceptance
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | March 23, 2017|
Sonora Plumb, 18, has piloted a steel-hulled patrol vessel, contained a rapidly-flooding room with her peers from the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps and traveled the country.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
Adding to her long list of certifications and accomplishments, the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) student was recently promoted to chief petty officer (first class) within the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Viking in Bancroft.
It’s the highest rank a cadet can achieve in the organization, but not one Plumb imagined she’d get when she first joined in 2011.
“My mom was telling me, ‘I know you aren’t liking it right now, but just stay in it for one year and go to the cadet summer training,’” Plumb told The Highlander about her first few months. “After that summer training I wanted to stay because it was so much fun.”
Her commanding officer, Lt-N Stephane Richer, recalled Plumb’s skills on the shooting range.
“She was a good shot right off the bat,” he said.
The sea cadets can lead to many unexpected careers, Richer said, including engineering, becoming a captain of a cruise ship, and even athletics.
In addition to cross-country, and occasional border-crossing travels, organized through the sea cadet program and Cadet Summer Training Centres (CSTC’s), Plumb looks in the mirror every day and sees a confident young woman reaching her maximum potential.
“I’ve learned to be very independent while forming a sense of camaraderie with peers,” she said. “You get so much out of it [cadet program] for nothing.”
There are no fees attached to the program.
The 229 Viking meets Wednesdays 6-9 p.m. at the Dungannon Recreation Centre in Bancroft. The program is funded by the Department of National Defence in partnership with the Navy League, Army Cadet League and Air Cadet League of Canada. According to cadets.ca, more than 20,000 cadets attend camp each summer and earn a weekly training bonus of $10 per day, up to $60 per week. Their instructors and leaders earn enough money to be put towards college and university tuition.
Plumb said that kind of personal growth wasn’t something she could obtain from school.
“In school, you do what you’re told … do the assignments and go home. You don’t really learn how to think for yourself and make important decisions. In cadets, you’re treated like an adult.”
The cadets, which are often misinterpreted as a military recruitment program, is a youth program that develops citizenship, leadership, athletic fitness and an interest in the various elements of the Canadian Armed Forces, Plumb explained.
Although following commands is an integral part, there’s room to ask questions and dig further into tasks.
“There is a balance of trust,” Plumb said.
Her social skills are better and she’s made genuine connections, she added. The cadets are for 12 to 18-year olds.
Those types of connections are almost impossible to form in high school, said Plumb’s mother Gillian, who is a sub-lieutenant within the corps.
“It’s like having a built-in family ... you’re thrown in with complete strangers but once you’re there you have common goals and you’re in it together, supporting each other,” she said.
“You don’t have an adult constantly telling them what to do … Sonora is teaching 12-year-olds every week.
Only two years ago, the sea cadets corps had less than 10 participants, including Plumb. She was sure it would be cancelled, but they’re now up to 18.
Richer encourages anyone to join the program.
“There’s not a whole lot out there in this area, but through this program, you can travel almost anywhere in the world.”
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.