Cadets digging in
Camp marks season opener

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 29/99) - Complaining about the cold? Well, try sleeping out in a tent in -15 C temperatures with a dozen of your closest friends.

The Inuvik Army Cadets have kicked off their winter season with a snowy, sub-zero camp-out at Chuk Park. Instead of waking up on that chilly Sunday morning and hightailing it back to civilization, they got down to the business of training exercises -- in temperatures that caused at least one camera to stop functioning.

"I think it went pretty well," said Master Cpl. Sara Gardlund afterward. "You could tell that some of the cadets didn't like the cold, but for others it wasn't a problem."

Kevin Rogers, the unit's training assistant and adjutant, said the experience must have been particularly shocking for one new recruit -- Cadet Brad Cook, who moved from California to Inuvik just this summer.

"But he did well," said Rogers. "Another cadet switched gloves with him and we got him in the car for a bit, but he was fine."

Unit commander Captain Chris Garven said 17 cadets in all participated in the camp exercise. He said that while the unit meets twice weekly for parade and drilling at Samuel Hearne high school, it also tries to manage field trips every six weeks -- culminating in the annual foray to Whitehorse every summer.

"This winter camp was essentially an introduction to cadet exercises on what life is like in the bush," he said. "We had a lot of new kids with us and wanted to enhance their skill level in the bush and to give our senior cadets a chance to show their stuff."

Garven said the unit has attracted cadets of all backgrounds and levels of experience -- and said one reason for its attraction is cost, because the Department of National Defence picks up the tab. He added that the army image hasn't discouraged girls from participating, and that nearly half the unit is female. In fact, 15-year-old Sara Gardlund is senior cadet -- and says she doesn't mind giving orders, not in the least.

"I love it," she said. "I'm the oldest kid at my house now, and I love that, too."

The older kid at her house for a long time was her brother, Fred Peterson. At one time the senior cadet himself, Peterson is now a private with the Princess Patrica's out of Edmonton -- at age 17 one of the youngest soldiers to go through boot camp and finish second in his group.

Whether a career in the forces awaits the other cadets remains to be seen. Private Stephanie Michaud, in her second year with the unit, said she'll take things as they come.

"It's fun," she said. "You meet new people, learn new things like shooting and do new things like winter camping."