Powell River sea cadet Brooke Clansey was one of just two Canadians selected for a recent once-in-a-lifetime exchange visit to New Zealand. During a two-week expedition, the 18-year-old underwent special naval training and had the chance to sample some unique aspects of Kiwi culture.
After a long journey back to Powell River, Clansey said she is enthused and inspired by the opportunities offered by the Canadian cadet program.
“I feel so lucky,” she said. “It has been very rewarding.”
Clansey began her career as a cadet at just 12 years old when she first moved to Powell River. Inspired by stories of her parents’ experiences, she started out in the air cadets before switching over to sea cadets after four years to pursue her interest in sailing.
Clansey knew the selection process for the New Zealand trip was going to be tough.
“I signed up thinking I wasn’t going to get into it,” she said. However, she had been working hard to impress her officers from day one. When she applied for the exchange, her officers wrote her sterling reference letters. She found out about her acceptance during spring break.
“I was very honoured to be selected,” she said.
The exchange visit, the first of its kind to be held in New Zealand, gave cadets from the UK, United States, Australia and Hong Kong the chance to meet their colleagues from all around the world.
“We learned all about each other’s culture,” said Clansey, “and I’ve been invited to visit a lot of new countries.”
The group of 19 (11 cadets and eight officers) began its tour in Auckland, before travelling down to Wellington. Along the way, the cadets toured naval and civilian museums, and visited several indigenous cultural sites.
But the trip wasn’t all tourism. The cadets also underwent rigorous training in damage control, sea safety and firefighting. “They put us in overalls, face-masks and gloves,” said Clansey, “and we had to use an extinguisher to put the fires out.”
One of her favourite parts of the trip was being snuck onto a naval helicopter and going for a quick flight.
“It was amazing,” she said.
Clansey returned to Powell River on August 30 feeling inspired by her experience. However, she only stopped briefly to visit her family before setting out on yet another adventure the next day. Last week she began her studies in classical music at University of Victoria.
Clansey said some of her experiences in New Zealand helped to prepare her for moving to Victoria. She went through a military confidence course, involving physically demanding obstacles in very cold conditions (it is currently winter in New Zealand).
“It has definitely helped me motivate myself to do things that are little bit nerve-racking,” she added.
Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps (RCSCC) Malaspina is taking new recruits this September. Clansey said she recommends the corps to any young people interested in joining.
“If you don’t know what you want to do, just join it and try everything; you’ll find out what you love,” she added. “It’s not only a fun thing to do; it helps you grow as a person.”