Parksville Navy League Cadets

Navy cadets from Parksville Qualicum Beach take to the water

Youngsters ages 9-12 take a tour in the Deep Bay area, thanks to a local business person and VIU's marine station

The young members of Parksville’s Admiral Yarrow Navy League Cadet command have snappy uniforms and caps, a commanding officer, and boundless enthusiasm for all things nautical. They do not, however, have a boat.

Thanks to a chance meeting between commanding officer Shannon Pennington and Deep Bay businesswoman Pamela Smyth, that shortcoming was addressed in late October when a half-dozen of the youths were treated to an outing on the Vancouver Island University shellfish research vessel Chetlo.

“They don’t get to get out much,” Pennington said of her nine to 12 year-old charges. “Sometimes we’ll go out with their families on different outings, but we’d like to get the kids out doing more things like this.”

With Shaun MacNeill piloting the Chetlo and VIU researcher Megan Edgar serving as interpretive guide, six members of the Navy League Cadets toured the oyster beds of Baynes Sound, spied seals and sea lions, and even caught a brief glimpse of a trio of orcas in the distance.

The trip came courtesy of Pamela Smyth, CEO of BioStrat Canada Incorporated. She had purchased a tour package on the VIU shellfish research ship with the idea of treating her clients.

That plan changed after she recently bumped into Pennington, with whom she served in the Seaforth Highlanders more than two decades ago.

“I hadn’t seen Shannon in probably 20 years,” said Smyth. “She told me what she was doing with the Navy League Cadets and I told her, ‘I used to be with the Navy Sea Cadets when I was little, and we didn’t have a boat.’

“She said, ‘We don’t have a boat, either.'”

Unlike the Naval Sea Cadets, a program for 12 to 17 year olds run in partnership between the Navy League of Canada and the Department of National Defence, the younger navy cadets receive no federal funding.

“They’re funded from donations from non-profits and from businesses,” said Smyth. “I wanted to do this to spur other corporations to help. I think getting kids into youth groups like this is so important.”

The Admiral Yarrow Command is comprised of 14 youths from throughout the mid-Island region, from Whiskey Creek and Nanoose Bay to Qualicum Bay.

Due to space limitations on the Chetlo, Pennington used the Oct. 17 tour as a reward to her second- and third-year cadets.

“It’s not military, but it’s military-themed,” Pennington said of the cadet program. “When they’re 12 they can go on to the sea cadets, the air cadets, the army cadets or nothing at all. But this gives them a base platform of knowledge to be able to take that next step.”

The Admiral Yarrow Command is one of eight on Vancouver Island and 106 nationwide, which serve more than 3,500 Navy League cadets.

The program was introduced in 1948 to develop patriotism, good citizenship, a sense of duty, self-discipline and respect for others.

“A few other people I knew were doing it and my adoptive mom thought it would be a good thing for me to try,” said Kyle Powell of Qualicum Bay. “It’s pretty nice. It was nice to smell the air and see all the nice scenery. We got to see sea lions, seals and lots of birds.”

The youths, who brought bagged lunches for the trip, were welcomed at the dock, helped into life preservers and given a detailed safety briefing.

“Our main rule is that everyone stays on the boat until we’re back on the dock,” MacNeill quipped.

One cadet who is no stranger to the water is Thomas Johnson of Whiskey Creek. His father is a fisherman who he has joined on the water many times, and his family tree has roots of seafarers dating back multiple generations.

“I just wanted to try it out and see what it was like,” said Johnson.

After their trip around the sound, the youths were taken by Edgar on a tour of VIU’s nearby Deep Bay Marine Field Station. There, they got to see the resident octopus and plenty of fish, learn about the facility’s energy-efficient construction and handle sea cucumbers and urchins in the touch tank.

“It was awesome,” said cadet Haley Maury of Parksville, 10. “I liked seeing the water.”

Just Posted

Development cost charges considered to fund regional parks

DCCs to assist in funding land acquisitions and development

Parksville powerlifter qualifies for world championships

Buhler sets personal bests in both raw and equipped lifting events

Wires left dangling after van crashes into hydro pole in Dashwood

Road closed while BC Hydro crews dealt with situation

Police go on hunt for distracted drivers in Parksville Qualicum Beach

One motorist ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and using a cellphone while driving

Motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash west of Whiskey Creek

Witnesses say three vehicles involved in collision; man in 70s confirmed dead

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Trudeau to campaign in Nanaimo on Monday

Prime minister to support Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Michelle Corfield

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

New Coast Guard ship crashes into breakwater in Victoria

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor reprimanded for accessing medical records without consent

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Most Read