LUNENBURG – Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Owen Griffiths, a member of the 39 Neptune Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps in Lunenburg has enjoyed his second summer as a staff at the summer cadet training centre located at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater.
Griffiths, 17, is in his fifth year as a cadet, describes his duties at camp.
"I'm basically a bridge between the course cadets and officers in charge," said Griffiths. "I am with them through the day and I help them if they have questions of concerns."
He also helps with sail training on the water and on land and "make sure the cadets are safe and having fun."
This is a paid position for Griffiths and normally, cadets attend camp for one or two years before becoming cadet leaders. But in his case and due to COVID-19 he is co-training with other cadets, helping, while also learning and getting his qualifications as well.
Camp is six weeks long for the learners and eight weeks for staff.
"There's a basic and advance sail courses. For those starting out they take CANSAIL 1 and CANSAIL 2 courses," described Griffiths. "You can also do the SCOP (Small Craft Operators Program) which is more power-boat oriented, and you can learn how to drive a boat and use the radio."
There is also advanced training for sailors for those who wish.
Griffiths said that he has been sailing since the was nine years old and really enjoys it and working at the camp.
He wants to continue to work at the camp and help pass his knowledge on to the other learners.
Griffiths' supervisor, Sub Lieutenant Olivia Jack, who also hails from Lunenburg, is the Sail 1 divisional officer and sail instructor. She has been a part of the cadets for many years.
"Owen was with us last year and it was a big learning experience for him, because it was his first summer at camp ever," she said. "Usually for people who are becoming staff cadets they get a couple of years of attending as cadets and doing the courses. But, because of COVID-19, he was kind of thrown into the middle of it. He's a hard worker and he picked up on things quickly."
She added that he has a great work ethic and has really developed as an instructor. "It's been great to see that growth from year to year."
Jack was immersed in boating growing up with a family of fishermen. She attended cadets in Lunenburg and spent six years. During that time she attended five summer camps for sailing.
She has now moved on to Halifax and continues to work in the cadet program in the regional support office and works at the camp during the summers.
The camp this year, has 27 participants coming from across the Maritimes with a few from Quebec and Ontario. They also run a more advanced sailing program with 13 enrolled. She explained there are only maybe only two other cadet sailing programs offering training at high levels, so they see participants come from a wide area each year.
She explained the camp used to be just three weeks in length, but since COVID-19 they have been offering six week courses which gives campers, not only training in sailing, but motor boat operation as well.
She said summer camps like this are amazing and that they are a win-win for everyone.
"I was able to go to three summers of training for three weeks and two for six weeks to get up to my CANSAIL 5 course. I was also trained as an instructor, then able to be employed as an instructor," she said. "That was all training that in the civilian world, woul have cost thousands of dollars. It was free and I got paid to do it."
She adds that while students are taking the course, they get paid a certain amount per week. When working as a staff, payments go up significantly.
Griffiths speaks highly of the cadet program and attending summer camp as well, for many reasons.
"It's so good. You meet lots of people and the things you learn during the summer and throughout the years is good," said Griffiths. "I have learned more about sailing these past couple of years, but I've also gained life and honour skills. Being in cadets for the past five years, I've really seen a difference in myself."