Cadets find new home in old Plympton school


Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

This week marks a long-awaited return to action for the Petrolia Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

The corps’ operations came to a sudden halt in March following the COVID outbreak. The Petrolia unit had been using LCCVI as their training base when schools were ordered closed.

Cadets were told by school services that even come fall it was unlikely they would be able to return, a prediction that turned out to be true.

“We were offering a program that was pretty robust up until March,” says Captain Carl D. Russell, Commanding Officer of the 2563 1st Hussars Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.
“Even the national summer camp program was cancelled. All the international exchanges that the program usually offers, everything was shut down.”

Russell says virtual meetings were encouraged, but since the kids spent much of their day doing this already in school there was not a large appetite for it.
The cadets explored other options such as churches, but Russell says with many participants at different levels and age groups, a school was necessary. As fortune had it there was one available.

The old South Plympton Public School in Wyoming has sat empty since closing in 2018. It was sold this summer, and while the buyer has not been made public the cadets were able to do some investigating to set up a meeting.

“We were able to figure out who it was and when we approached him he was quite open to allowing us to use the school to get some use out of it,” Russell says.
This means that their training will end a seven-and-a-half-month hiatus Wednesday.
The cadets and the new owner of the school have agreed to a lease that will run through June 2021.

Even after securing a venue there are still plenty of pandemic related rules the cadets had to fulfill to get approval from the Department of National Defense to restart. This includes mask use for all participants, increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and a reduction of some routines.

“We won’t be able to do our drills the same way because they’d be too close together,” says Russell. “Usually it’s a pretty high intensity program and we have a lot going on… weekend stuff, competitions, exercises, camping. But we’re not allowed to do any overnight stuff right now.”

This won’t stop the cadets from getting out from time to time though. Petrolia residents can look for them this Saturday in fact as they head to Bridgeview Park and Petrolia Discovery for an orienteering exercise.

“We’re going to try and keep cadets engaged in a fun and safe manner,” Russell says.
He says the cadets are always looking for new members, and encourages any interested kids to come see what the corps is all about. The program is free of charge, and open to kids age 12-18.

  • The Independent