Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Cadet Program

Q: What is the Cadet Program and its purpose?

A: Also known as Canadian Cadet Organizations which includes the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, Royal Canadian Army Cadets and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the Cadet Program is one of the largest federally-sponsored youth programs in Canada. Youth choose to join either the Sea, Army or Air Cadets.

It is a national program for all young Canadians aged 12 to 18 who are interested in participating in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities whose purpose is to develop in youth the attributes of leadership, engaged and active citizenship and physical fitness, all within an environment that stimulates an interest in the Sea, Army and Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Q: How old do I have to be to join Cadets?

A:  You have to be at least 12 years old and under 19.  If you are 19 or older you can join as a Civilian Volunteer, Civilian Instructor or become a Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) officer.

Q: What do Cadets do?

A: Cadets are youth who take part in activities at a Cadet Corps or Squadron within their local community. These fun activities are designed to help youth become more self-confident, to develop leadership skills, to improve their physical fitness and communication skills, and to teach self-discipline through challenging training.

Q: Is the Cadet Program new? How come I haven’t heard of it before?

A: No, the Cadet Program is not new. In fact, Cadets is one of Canada’s oldest youth programs. The origins of the program can be traced back to 1862. By 1879, Army Cadets was formed, followed by Sea Cadets in 1895. Air Cadets was introduced in 1941. In 1975, girls were first allowed to join Cadets. Today, girls represent more than thirty percent of all Cadets in Canada. If you would like to learn more about the history of the Cadet Program please click on the Cadet Overview section of this Website.

Q: How many Cadets are there in Canada?

A: Currently, there are 52, 890 Cadets across Canada.

Some other interesting statistics about the Cadet Program are as follows:

  • Total Number of Sea Cadets in Canada: 8, 490
  • Total Number of Army Cadets in Canada: 18, 920
  • Total Number of Air Cadets in Canada: 25, 890
  • Total Number of Sea Cadet Corps in Canada: 235
  • Total Number of Army Cadet Corps in Canada: 429
  • Total Number of Air Cadet Squadrons in Canada: 453
  • Total Number of Cadets in British Columbia: 6, 777
  • Total Number of Cadets in the Prairie Provinces and the three Territories: 8, 737
  • Total Number of Cadets in Quebec (including Air Cadets in the Ottawa Valley): 11, 765
  • Total Number of Cadets in Ontario (excluding Air Cadets in the Ottawa Valley): 16, 951
  • Total Number of Cadets in the Atlantic Provinces: 8, 660
Q: Are Cadets expected to join the Canadian Armed Forces?

A: Cadets are not members of the Canadian Armed Forces, nor are they expected to join the military. While they are introduced to Sea, Army and/or Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces and certain traditions, they are also introduced to many other respectable career choices that are available to them.

Q: What are the differences between Sea, Army and Air Cadets?

A:  The main differences between the three programs (Sea, Army or Air Cadets) are the uniform and the elemental training you will receive.  Sea Cadets specialize in sailing, seamanship, shipboard life, naval communications, power boat handling, boat repair, and marine engineering.  Army Cadets develop abilities in the use of map and compass, GPS technology, orienteering, first-aid, camping and survival skills, canoeing, abseiling, trekking and mountain biking.  Air Cadets focus on the aviation environment including power flying and gliding, aerospace, aircraft maintenance, navigation and outdoor survival.  Each Cadet Program equally participates in teamwork and leadership training, Canadian military history, citizenship activities, drill and physical fitness.

Q: Why should youth join Cadets?

A: Cadets offer challenges, friendship and adventure! It’s an opportunity to expand your own horizons, contribute to your community and make friends for life. Many former Cadets credit their participation in the program with giving them a head-start toward their successful careers.

Did you know that Canadian Astronauts Chris Hadfield, Marc Garneau and Jeremy Hansen are all former Cadets? Many other prominent community leaders, athletes and celebrities are former Cadets as well. To read more about our Cadet Alumni, please visit the Cadet Alumni section of this Website!

Q: Is there a Cadet Program for younger children?

A: Yes. Navy League Cadets aimed at youth aged 9-12 is a program run entirely by one of our civilian partners, the Navy League of Canada.

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