US Naval Sea Cadets: Leadership, life readiness for young people – American Press
US Navy cadets learn skills to stand out from the pack. Classroom training, social interaction, team building, physical exercise, drills, fun field trips, deep dives into technology, and educational visits to other states not only give 10-year-olds at 18 an overview of US Navy and Coast Guard training without enlisting and the experience of “rise in rank” if they enlist, Sea Cadets are also readiness training for succeed in life, whatever the career path.
Sea Cadets meet every other Saturday except June and July, and 75% attendance is required.
“The program is designed to transform these children into future leaders,” said Leroy Spellman, training manager. “These are young people who want to do something with their lives. Some come from a military background. The main thing we want to do is teach respect for self and others.
Many cadets consider joining the army. At a time when students graduating from college are already saddled with thousands of dollars in debt, Spellman said the Army tuition program is becoming increasingly attractive.
Catha Doucet’s son, Alex Doucet, joined the US Naval Sea Cadet Corp five years ago at the age of 10.
“He’s different from most teenagers,” she said. “He was crazy from the start.”
In the eyes of his mother, Alex’s greatest benefit so far has been learning responsibility and his exposure to new places and instruction at a lower cost.
He will probably join the army at 18, but he does not know in which branch.
“This organization is different from other programs in that we don’t take troubled youth,” said US Navy Cadet Commandant Christopher Stegall. “We don’t have the facilities for that.”
All officers, including Spellman and Stegall, are U.S. Army veterans and volunteers. You don’t have to be a veteran to volunteer, and recruiting volunteers is just as important to the group as recruiting cadets.
Opportunities to serve include conducting STEM programs, recruiting, transportation, military history classroom instructor, military training, military law, firearms, cooking, and field operations.
Stegall’s son wanted to join the Sea Cadets after finding out his cousin had joined a unit in Shreveport.
“He was a bit reserved,” Stegall said. “He was not the type to go out in front. Now he takes on leadership roles, makes speeches.
Alex Bonin was introduced to US Navy Cadets by a Navy recruiter. He spent five years in the program and will join the Navy this year as an E-3.
“It would take at least 18 months to get to that level of pay if I had joined without the Sea Cadet training,” he said.
Nationally, more than 9,000 students participate in Sea Cadets. The local program is stationed in Chennault. Not all training exercises are conducted there. Physical training and drills are done in about a week, not the 10 weeks required for bootcamp, Spellman said. Or, Southwest Louisiana Sea Cadets can travel to the Great Lakes to participate in a two-week boot camp program at a significantly reduced cost. Another program available to Sea Cadets for just $200, compared to the usual $1,800 fee, is the Pensacola Naval Air Station Flight Academy.
“Two local Navy recruiters are coming to teach SeaPerch,” Spellman said. “It’s an underwater robotics program to help teach students how to build remote-controlled underwater vehicles.”
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department and local fire stations held training sessions for local sea cadets. Last year, the Sea Cadets took care of communications and transport at the Chennault Air Show. They play a key role every year.
The group is having fun together, Spellman said. They went as a group to see the new Top Gun movie and visited Schlitterbaum in Galveston, spending the night on the Navy ship at SeaWorld Park.
James Dodd and his son Michael joined the USNSCC in 1993 and established a Lake Charles unit in 1995.
To learn more about Sea Cadets or how to volunteer, contact Stegall at 409-291-0295 or Executive Officer ENS Darik Jahkur-Muhammed at 409-665-9000. Or, email Spellman at [email protected].