LITTLE CURRENT – The commanding officer of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps, Acting Lieutenant (N) Sylvain Boucher, has had a lifelong association with the cadet movement, first as a young army cadet himself and then as a parent observer who found himself recruited into the ranks of the parent volunteers and then as part of the officer contingent.
“I have been involved with the cadets as an adult for 16 years, 14 of those years as a uniformed officer,” he said. “I was a cadet myself, starting out in the army cadets in Kirkland Lake and then, when we moved to Chapleau, I was in air cadets. After several years I got out of the cadets and when I became a parent myself I put my daughter into Sea Cadets in Sudbury.’
It was in Sudbury that Lt. Boucher was approached to join the ranks of parents helping out with the organization of the cadet activities. “So I was no longer just an observer parent, I was soon committed to being an officer,” he laughed.
It can be quite involved. “They tell you that it is only a couple of hours of your time a week,” he said. “That’s true for some of the volunteers, but for me it became a bit more demanding as I moved up the ranks.”
This year marks the first time Lt. Boucher is the commanding officer of a sea cadet corps but not his first time at bat as a cadet corps commander. “I was the commanding officer of the Navy League Cadets in Sudbury for around five years, having been an officer for 10 to 12 years before that.”
Lt. Boucher is a radio announcer with GLOW 103 in his daytime job, but when it comes to volunteerism his big passion is the cadets.
“It’s really my biggest volunteer focus, working with the youth in the cadets,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of time for other things.”
Lt. Boucher said that he enjoys watching young people turn into the leaders of tomorrow. “They grow into skills that will impact their entire lives,” he said. “Not only in your day-to-day life, but in your working career as well.”
He noted that kids from all walks of life come into the cadets, but the corps tends to level out the playing field. “There are some who are not so well off and others with everything, but you know that when it comes down to it they are all the same.”
“For me the fun part is planning what you are going to be doing with the youth,” he said. “That is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do. You get to advance in rank as an officer in the cadets, but although that is nice and everything, what really matters is the kids. You don’t do it for the ranks.”
Lt. Boucher said that working with the youth in the Manitoulin Sea Cadets he gets to see youth learning leadership skills that he knows they will bring back to their community in their own turn. Volunteerism builds a better community in so many ways, he noted. “But, for me, it is all about the youth.” They are the building blocks of the future.