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Welcome future Cadets and families! We are excited to have you join our Program. We’re sure you have a number of questions. Below, please find a recruit information video, a number of commonly asked questions, and a contact form to contact our Recruiting Officer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Air Cadet Program?

Air Cadets is a national organization whose purpose is to develop the attributes of leadership, physical fitness, and active citizenship in youth within a safe environment that stimulates an interest in the Canadian Forces. To accomplish this, Cadets participate in a range of mandatory and optional activities throughout the training year. They also receive valuable training in areas such as leadership, aviation studies, survival, and public speaking, to name just a few. The Program also instills in Cadets life skills such as organization, time management, responsibility, and accountability, which all remain valuable long after they have left the Program.

A cadet may earn two high school credits by fulfilling the necessary requirements. They can earn high school community service hours by participating in a variety of local supervised community opportunities. Cadets have the option to apply to attend a variety of summer training programs that are organized by the national and provincial levels of the Cadet Program.

There are over 24,000 Air Cadets across Canada with many successful alumni including Chris Hadfield and (1st female) Snowbirds pilot and commander Lieutenant-Colonel Maryse Carmichael.

Visit the Cadets Canada website to learn more about the cadet program.

What do Cadets do?

856 is an active squadron offering a range of activities, many of which relate to flying! Some of these activities are optional and some are mandatory. Some activities include:

  • Aviation activities (ground school, gliding, flight simulators)
  • Survival (weekend field training exercises)
  • Marksmanship (air rifle familiarization and our Air Rifle Team)
  • Leadership (lead cadets and run activities)
  • Music (join the band, no prior knowledge required)
  • Drill (drill training and our Drill Team)
  • Canadian Forces familiarization activities
  • Instructing (learn to teach and then teach cadets)
  • Sports (come to our sports night)
How old do I need to be to join the Cadet Program?

You can start your career with Air Cadets as soon as you’ve reached your 12th birthday and can remain with us until you turn 19 years of age.

Do I need to wear a uniform?

Yes, during the Recruit Course, you will wear a white dress shirt, black dress pants, and a black tie (we provide the tie).

Once you have completed the 8 week Recruit course and choose to be sworn into the Squadron, you will be issued all the Air Cadet uniform pieces. The Air Cadet uniform is provided free of charge. Uniform pieces may be exchanged via our Supply Officer as needed throughout the training year.

What Is Summer Training?

Optional summer training is offered by the national and provincial levels of the cadet program during the summer. The camps run from 2 – 7 weeks depending on the Camp you are selected to attend.

Each camp offers a unique mix of outdoor activities and valuable instruction on subjects such as general training, aviation, survival, and physical fitness. The Canadian Forces provides all transportation, meals, lodging, and special equipment. Entry level camp sites include Canadian Forces Bases Trenton and Blackdown (Borden) near Barrie.

To be eligible for Summer Training, you must be enrolled with 856 Air Cadets prior to December 31st of the current training year. There are a limited number of spaces for each Summer Training Program, so not every cadet that submits and application will be selected. Cadets may apply to several camps to increase their chances for selection for their camp of interest. The staff of 856 are not involved with camp selections or assignments. Camps are assigned by staff at the Regional Level.

Will I be expected to join the Canadian Armed Forces? / Is Air Cadets the Military?

Absolutely not! As a cadet, you are not a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and there is no expectation that you will join. Cadets is a great way to make friends, build confidence and develop new skills that will be with you for life, whatever your career.

Who instructs Cadets?

Cadets learn from members of the Canadian Armed Forces-Reserve Branch-Cadet Instructor Cadre. These are officers who are specially trained to instruct and supervise youth. In many cases, civilian instructors who possess special skills are also instructors. Most importantly, senior Cadets act as instructors to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of Cadets.

You can see a listing of our Officers and Civilian instructors on our Officers and Civilian Instructors Page.

Will Cadet training affect my schoolwork?

Education is very important to Cadets. Cadet training is a hands-on, activity-based Program that complements school studies. The skills you develop at Cadets, such as leadership and time management should benefit your academic processes. When an unavoidable conflict arises, school should be the priority.

If I complete the recruiting session will I be required to join the Squadron?

No. We strongly encourage open communication between parents and Cadets when it comes to joining and remaining in the Program. Cadets who are forced unwillingly into the Program may not get much out of it. As the saying goes, “you get out of Cadets, what you put into it”. Cadets will be required to maintain a high standard of dress and deportment, and abide by the Cadet code of conduct. There are certain standards (ex. haircuts, shaving, no make-up, no jewelry, no nail polish, etc.) to which some Cadets may be unwilling to conform. If you are unsure, we absolutely encourage you to give it a try. Through Cadets you will learn many exciting things that you will not find anywhere else!

My child has special needs, requires a special diet or accommodations, or has environmental and/or food allergies – can they still participate in the Cadet Program?

Yes. Portions of the Cadet Program can be tailored to support their active participation in Cadet activities. However, some activities may be restricted due to risks presented to your child.

How do I get access to the website?

When you join, you will be given access to the squadron website. Parents will also have access to portions of the website.

During the current COVID-19 global pandemic, how are you running training?

The safety of our Cadets, their families, and our staff is paramount and our top priority! We are committed to continue following guidance provided by the Department of National Defence and the national, regional, and local health authorities to ensure that everyone in the Cadet Program are kept safe and that the Program does not become a vector for virus transmission.

At the present time, our program is being conducted virtually. There are no in-person activities scheduled until we have received permission to do so. We are eager to reunite with our Cadets face-to-face but refuse to put them or our staff at risk. We will remain patient until it is once again safe to train in-person.

COVID-19 present several uncertainties concerning timings of restrictions being relaxed. This leaves us unable to provide concrete plans and calendar dates for future in-person activities. Please understand that we will do our best while adhering to all current health mandates and procedures to ensure the safety of your child(ren).

Contact the Recruiting Officer

Are you ready to join or have more questions? Please contact our Recruiting Officer using the contact form below. If you do not see a response from us within 14 days, please check your spam/junk folder.