Chriss Harvey joined the Army Cadets Corps when she was sixteen years old, and she’s been involved ever since. “You age out of the Cadet program when you’re nineteen,” says Harvey, “but I wanted to continue being a part of it, so I became an Cadet Instructor Commanding (CIC) Officer.
As a CIC, Harvey is technically part of the Canadian Forces, whereas the Cadet program in Revelstoke is affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Rangers, a Primary Reserve Unit within the 39 Canadian Brigade Group.
The Revelstoke Army Cadets Corps have a long local history. A Cadet unit has existed in Revelstoke for 100 years; sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Rangers since 1952. Originally formed as a youth program with an aim of promoting interest in the military, it has evolved into an inclusive and supportive group with varied interests, aimed at promoting adventure training, community involvement, physical training, and leadership. “Really, what we are trying to do is help youth become the people we want to have leading our society,” says Harvey. “It’s about getting kids outside and teaching them to be good global citizens.”
Harvey has been running the local Cadet program for just shy of two years, and she is hoping to raise the slowly declining numbers of the program.
“The Cadets have a lot to offer,” she says. “We do drills and marksmanship. We work with various groups in the community to get the kids outside.”
The group recently spent a weekend at Frog Falls, where they worked on outdoor survival skills and bushcraft.
“One thing that is really special about the Cadets is that it is free. Any child who is between twelve and nineteen is welcome. We meet Tuesday nights from 6:30 – 9:30 pm, plus we have various weekend activities.”
Cadets achieve rankings through ‘star’ levels. They start on green and work their way through red, silver and gold. Each level offers different training.
“The higher levels teach Cadets how to be instructors,” says Harvey. “Kids who are passionate about Cadets can take part in one of the many competitions offered around the province. There are competitions for everything; marksmanship, band, first aid, drills and orienteering.”
Harvey believes the program gives youth a well rounded background. Her own focus was in music and band. “Just because band was my thing doesn’t mean it’s all I can do,” she says. “I’m qualified to run canoeing and cold weather camping courses. And there are resources all over the province. If I want to run a program I am not qualified for, I can call a fellow officer to come and do it.”
Harvey has big goals for the Revelstoke contingent. As well as bolstering the youth numbers, she would like to see more adult volunteers. “If they enjoy it, they can always train to become officers, even if they were never Cadets,” she says. Harvey is also looking for a permanent home base for the group.
She is in the process of approving an international trip to take ten of the cadets for a historical and cultural tour in 2020. “We will start in Germany and go to Poland, Prague and Czechoslovakia. The kids will learn the history and tour the war museums and monuments It really is the trip of a lifetime. They’ve already started fundraising their hearts out.” The cadet group is currently at nine youth, both girls and boys. “If we have a lot more youth involvement by then, we will try and do a trip every two years,” says Harvey.
There seems no doubt that Harvey won’t achieve her goals. Her passion and belief that the Cadet program offers local youth a chance to do something different and exceptional, ensures the future of this long standing program.