This term a new intake of cadets has arrived. The New Entrant training programme is now underway, and recruits have started to learn drill, parade night routine, marks of respect (calling people by their rank and surname) and have completed a swim test. Next they will earn about knots and basic first aid before the NE camp. After that they can apply to be promoted to Ordinary Cadet and learn about uniform care and begin their boating qualifications.
We have two New Entrant intakes per year: one in November and one in February. Recruits must be 13, or 12 if they are starting high school in term 1. The recommended process for joining is to first attend an opening night and then to visit once or twice before the date of the intake. Opening nights happen twice a year – once in term 3 and once in term 1.
We recommend that parents or caregivers also attend the opening night and come along on a visit or two. Sea Cadets is not like a sport at school, and is certainly not a babysitting service! We rely on family members to help out in a variety of ways: at the very least we need cadets to be encouraged at home to be properly committed and turn up every week with the proper equipment. We can’t teach commitment if the cadets don’t show up! We also rely on having helpers on the Unit Support Committee, otherwise the unit can’t run properly.
If you are interested in finding out more, please visit nimrod.org.nz or look us up on Facebook.
This past month has seen the leaders of TS Nimrod travelling all over the place to connect in various ways with our national organisations.
At the end of July I spent a weekend at RNZAF Base Ohakea near Palmerston North at the Unit Commanders Conference. There we discussed the future of the Sea Cadet training syllabus and the importance of seamanship skills and Naval tradition as our points of difference from sailing clubs and scouts. We also undertook a fitness test, which was designed to ensure all serving officers are physically fit to act appropriately in an emergency situation.
Two weeks later the Chair of our Unit Support Committee and I attended the Sea Cadet Association of New Zealand (SCANZ) conference at HMNZS Philomel, Devonport Navy Base. According to the Cadet Forces Charter of Support, all units are run as a partnership between the Defence Forces and the civilian community, and SCANZ is the national organisation for the civilian representation in the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC).
At the Navy base we discussed the way the SCC is funded, welcomed new committee members from around the country and had a question and answer session with the SCANZ executive and the NZCF Commandant. We also had the opportunity to talk to many high-ranking Naval personnel, including the Warrant Officer of the Navy himself. He gave us a tour of the new Seamanship Centre and showed us around the docks where many of our Navy’s ships happened to be alongside for various reasons.
We are back at the Watersiders’ Hall for the winter terms and have been sorting through our uniform stores. Uniform used to be provided as Navy surplus but we now have to purchase items new, so we have a large collection of older uniform to keep track of in order to keep costs down. The cadets sorted items into type and size groups, and put aside anything that can’t be worn any more.
We have had one cadet already pass the Junior Non-commissioned Officer course and two more are due to go up to Burnham this upcoming school holidays. This course is the beginning of their formal leadership training, and can result in promotion to Leading Cadet. This means taking on some instructing and administrative roles as well as beginning to help set the tone for the unit in terms of self-discipline, drill, dress and bearing.
A big thanks is due to the Lions, who have been really helpful with stuff in the background such as helping to maintain our assets and ideas and help with fundraising. We really appreciate this kind of help, as it can be difficult to drum up support from the community at times.
Our AGM did not result in any new committee members, but we are still short of helpers. If you or anyone you know might be able to lend us a hand, especially with a bit of planning and organising, please contact us at email@example.com and let us know.
The New Zealand Cadet Forces have recently undergone a small change in structure. I’ll take the opportunity this month to describe how Sea Cadets works.
Sea Cadets is one of three branches of Cadet Forces in NZ which align with our Regular Forces: we have a Navy theme, the NZ Cadet Corp (Army Cadets) align with the Army and the Air Training Corps (ATC) with the Air Force. All three of these branches exist under a Charter of Support, which is essentially a partnership between the NZ Defence Force and, in our case, the Sea Cadet Association of NZ (SCANZ) – a civilian body with charitable status.
This means that TS Nimrod is run under two organisational structures. The community, who elect to maintain an NZCF unit in Port Chalmers, provide the members of the local branch of SCANZ. This makes up our Unit Support Committee, which consists of a chairperson, secretary and treasurer, plus voting members. They run everything behind the scenes, including the unit’s finances.
The other structure is the NZCF side, which is where some small changes have been made recently. At unit level, the officer staff fill the roles of Unit Commander and Executive Officer. They in turn are guided by the Dunedin Area Support Officer (ASO), a new role brought in to provide a local link between units and to bring NZCF support physically closer to communities. The ASO liaises with NZCF Southern HQ in Burnham, which is staffed by Regular Force personnel. This structure is in charge of training and day-to-day operations.
So basically, TS Nimrod is run jointly by local members of both SCANZ and NZCF.
This month I want to focus on the benefits of being a Sea Cadet. Many local people have passed through TS Nimrod over the years, and each one will have stories to tell of what they got out of it, no matter how long they were here for.
I’ve written plenty about the skills and knowledge a Sea Cadet will gain, from boating to leadership and everything in between, so I won’t dwell too much on that aspect this time. Sea Cadets offers opportunities and opens doors for people in many other ways, including travel, friendships and career opportunities.
Sea Cadets offers many opportunities for young people to travel locally, nationally and internationally. Cadets will attend courses and competitions, totally free of charge, throughout the South Island and often further afield. Opportunities often arise for cadets to travel aboard Navy vessels as well. New Zealand Cadet Forces also offers international exchanges to places like Singapore and the USA, and units will help and support fundraising for such trips.
Sea Cadets will form friendships with other cadets all over the country, from Northland to Southland. National events like the recent Cadet150 exercise bring young people of all ages together on common terms. Cadets will form friendships with older teenagers at local unit level as well, providing them with mentors and role models.
It’s a common misconception that cadets prepares people mostly for careers in the services. Mentioning membership of our volunteer organisation on a CV shows any potential employer that an applicant has commitment, leadership and teamwork skills, self-motivation and many other qualities of a good employee. Being or having been a Sea Cadet could mean a point of difference which will get you an interview over hundreds of other applicants.
This column isn’t long enough to list all the hidden benefits of being a Sea Cadet, but will hopefully give readers an idea of what makes us different.
As we are now in the winter terms, Sea Cadet training will shift focus slightly to cover more ceremonial and theoretical material, but this does not mean being less hands-on! Ropework was identified as an area for improvement at the recent regatta, so cadets will learn useful bends and hitches and their applications on the water.
Ceremonial drill practice is also on the training plan, not least so we can provide a uniformed presence for Port Chalmers ANZAC parade. We cover static drill, marching and ceremonial rifle drill with a focus on accuracy, timing and uniformity. This, like many sports, teaches teamwork, attention to detail and self discipline. It’s a fun challenge and requires skill and practice to do well. It can also look very impressive.
Boating also comes with its own set of rules and knowledge required to carry out safely, so in the winter we cover these via the Day Skipper (Coastguard) qualification as well as in our own curriculum. This includes instruction on how to sail, such as how to set a sail according to wind direction. Navigation and communications are also important when boating, so we cover charts and radio telephony as well. Cadets will have the opportunity not only to gain their Day Skippers Ticket, but also a VHF radio operator’s license.
On top of these maritime qualifications, we also have the capacity to offer unit standards to cadets which can contribute towards NCEA credits and help to boost people towards gaining their school qualifications. Our junior and senior leaders will be polishing up their instructing skills, which is a very useful life skill to have experience in.
It’s been a busy month for TS Nimrod with new cadets joining, weekend training and preparation for the South Island Regatta. The regatta sees the four sea cadet units from the Southern Area come together in Christchurch to compete in activities which test a wide range of the skills and knowledge taught at unit level. Events include pulling, sailing, seamanship, navigation, first aid, drill, rope work and range shooting.
TS Nimrod put in a quality performance, coming first in the pulling (rowing) event and placing well in other events. The team unfortunately didn’t place overall, but some of the younger team members had the opportunity to shine; particularly in the sailing events where less experienced team members must try their hand on the tiller.
Our focus as winter terms approach will be on polishing our ceremonial skills for ANZAC day and swatting up on areas of improvement identified at the regatta. As always, we will be accepting new recruits at any time of year and interested persons are most welcome to visit us at Back Beach in the summer or the WIC hall in winter.