By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Stormont Sea Cadet, Master Seaman Geneviève Akins was more than ready to put four years of training to the test.
The 15-year-old squared off against over 200 cadets in a Seamanship Training Weekend, hosted by the local Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps – 110 Stormont on Saturday and Sunday at the Cornwall Armoury.
Five corps from eastern Ontario, based out of Kingston, Trenton, Napanee, Kemptville, and Ottawa rallied to the Seaway City to participate in a series of competitions against local cadets in intermixed groups.
"Being here and training with hundreds of others helps us to be prepared for the navy," said Akins.
Life on the open water is something the Cornwall teen continues to contemplate as she works her way up the ranks. Since sea cadet programs are aimed at youths 12 to 18, Akins still has a few years to decide if she will join the navy.
Four years ago, she started the cadets with her older sister. Akins' mother saw the impact the program had on her niece and nephew and encouraged them to join.
"My sister and I really like it - it helps with respect and discpline," she said. "You get to meet a lot of people when you crew with them on a ship. I love to sail."
Akins is already excited for sea cadet camp this summer, which takes place in Kingston for six weeks. It's her third year going, the first summer lasted two weeks and the second year was for three. The entire trip comes at no cost to her or her family.
"I'm ready to ditch the beginner boat, I'll be learning new tricks that are a little more fun than just the basic training," she joked.
The cadet even learned how to play trumpet by joining the marching band, and has continued to develop her newfound musical talent at her high school. Akins' involvement in cadets has also piqued her interest in naval history.
In order to gain bragging rights, sea cadets took part in several seamanship contests including line heaving drills, assembling hoists and gyns, firing on a target range with air rifles, and tying knots.
Lt (N) Chris Cochrane has been involved with the Stormont Sea Cadets Corps for over 25 years and participated in the training weekend as a teen.
"We're continuing on with a longstanding tradition," said Cochrane.
He noted that the Cornwall Armoury has hosted the event for 25 years.
"Not all towns have access to a great facility like this. Cadets travel from all over the region to train here," he said.
Spoken from experience, Cochrane described the event as a great opportunity for cadets to challenge themselves, both physically and socially.
He encourages local youth to get involved with the free organization, which even supplies uniforms. There are currently 50 Stormont Sea Cadets, many of which are from Cornwall, as well as Ingleside, Bonville, Lancaster, and Martintown.
The Stormont Sea Cadet Corps meets at the Cornwall Armoury on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
For more information, visit www.stormontseacadets.ca.