About Cadets

The Cadet Program is one of the largest federally sponsored youth programs in Canada that includes:

  • The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets;
  • The Royal Canadian Army Cadets; and
  • The Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

It is a national program for young Canadians aged 12 to 18 who are interested in participating in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities while learning about the Sea , Army and Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Cadets are encouraged to become active, responsible members of their communities. They make valuable contributions to Canadian society on a daily basis in terms of environmental, citizenship and community activities.

Cadets also learn valuable life and work skills such as teamwork, leadership and citizenship.

Cadets are not members of the Canadian Armed Forces, nor are they expected to join the military. While they are introduced to Sea, Army and/or Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces and certain traditions, they are also introduced to many other respectable career choices that are available to them.

Through the Cadet Program, the Government of Canada is investing in today’s youth and Canada’s future.

The Cadet Program is community-based. The program succeeds through strong community support and involvement. Cadets in turn make valuable contributions to their communities.

What do we do?

Cadets choose to join either the Sea, Army or Air Cadet Program. Sea Cadets learn seamanship skills and how to sail. Army Cadets focus on adventure training activities such as outdoor activities and international expeditions. Air Cadets learn the principles of aviation, while some learn to become glider pilots, pilots of engine-propelled aircraft or both.

Why do youth aged 12 to 18 years old join cadets?

  • To have fun;
  • To be with their friends or to make new ones;
  • To partake in interesting and unique challenges;
  • To participate in diverse training at no cost;
  • To learn valuable life skills (work and personal);
  • To improve their self-confidence and sense of responsibility;
  • To pursue an interest in the Canadian Armed Forces; and To be part of a program that is both welcoming and nurturing, where they feel included and have a sense of belonging.

Five things to remember about the Cadet Program

  • Invites all Canadian youth aged 12 to 18;
  • Instils Canadian military values;
  • Develops in youth attributes of citizenship, leadership and fitness;
  • Balances safety and challenge; and
  • Leaves a positive life-long impact through a set of positive youth outcomes.

Five things to remember about Cadets

  • Cadets are proud Canadians and proud citizens;
  • Cadets are healthy in mind and body;
  • Cadets contribute to Canada’s future;
  • Cadets seek and appreciate healthy discipline; and
  • Cadets represent Canada in a positive light.


What else do I need to know?

VIABLE ALTERNATIVE – The Cadet Program is funded by the Department of National Defence in partnership with our civilian sponsors, the Navy League, Army Cadet League and Air Cadet League of Canada. League members support Cadets by working in partnership with local communities and the Canadian Armed Forces. Cadet Instructors Cadre officers administer, train and supervise Cadets by delivering the program; League members (our civilian sponsor) ensure financial, accommodation and transportation support for the program and services that are not provided by the Department of National Defence. Cadet Instructors Cadre officers and League members support each and every Cadet Corps and Squadron in Canada. The civilian sponsor requires local community support to meet its obligations that include accommodations, training aids and equipment and program enhancements not otherwise provided. Parents and Cadets are expected to participate in and contribute to fundraising as required by the League’s local sponsoring element.

The Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces assumes costs (including uniform and travel) for Cadets. Consequently, membership in the Cadet Program provides thousands of Canadian youth with unique opportunities free of charge that they might not otherwise experience. This will help build a generation of responsible young adults – making the Cadet Program a viable option.

DIVERSITY – The Cadet Program is open to all Canadian youth from the ages of 12 to 18 regardless of income, race, religion, culture or other socio-economic factors. The program embraces Canada’s multiculturalism and offers young Canadians opportunities to interact with youth from other cultures.

TEACHING VALUES – The Cadet Program emphasizes key values such as loyalty, professionalism, mutual respect and integrity. Cadets also learn about fair play, teamwork and tolerance through all of their activities.

SUCCESS AND STAYING IN SCHOOL – Cadets are motivated to work hard at school in order to qualify for international exchanges and other rewards. They are taught related skills such as effective speaking and instructional techniques, which lend to an increased level of success in school. They may also attain high school credits or can fulfill their 40 hours of community service – just for participating in Cadet Program activities.

Many Cadets are honour students or students who are highly involved in all aspects of school life. Their training at the local cadet corps or squadron motivates them to excel and to test their newly acquired skills, like public speaking, methods of instruction and music training.

Because attendance at Cadet Summer Training Centres and eligibility for scholarships and exchanges are directly correlated to academic achievement, Cadets work hard in their studies and have an incentive to stay in school and to participate in healthy activities.


ADVANCED TRAINING – Cadets who attend courses at summer training centres receive a training allocation. Many senior Cadets can participate in advanced training opportunities full-time during the summer as instructors or support staff.

More than 20,000 Cadets attend camp each summer and earn a weekly training bonus of $10.00 per day, up to $60.00 per week, while their instructors and leaders earn enough money to be put towards post-secondary education tuition.

The allure of being compensated for developing life and work skills that will help further their career aspirations is an attractive option for thousands of Canadian youth, who take advantage of the opportunity each summer. Cadets and their leaders are secure in the knowledge that they are receiving quality training that is highly desirable for future employers and that they are doing their part to make themselves employable by adding character-defining experiences to their résumés.   

VISITS AND EXCHANGES – Cadets meet other young adults from across Canada and from foreign countries while participating in annual national and international exchanges.

FUTURE LEADERS – Former Cadets have found success in a variety of fields and have given back to Canada and the world. Cadet Alumni include astronauts Marc Garneau and Chris Hadfield, LCol Maryse Carmichael (first female Snowbirds pilot), Senator Terry M. Mercer (Certified Funding Raising Executive), George Canyon (Country Music Artist), and Mrs. Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay (Miss World Canada 2003 and Miss World 1st runner up).

AMBASSADORS FOR CANADA – The Cadet Program is also about national unity. Youth from across Canada have an equal opportunity to participate in the Cadet Program and to develop their sense of Canadian identity. Cadets are highly visible ambassadors of Canada. Because the Government of Canada has invested in them while they are still young, Cadets are taught the skills and knowledge required to become knowledgeable and capable representatives of their country.

Cadets can travel from one region of Canada to another in order to attend one of the 23 Cadet Summer Training Centres and to participate in cultural visits and sporting competitions.

When they return home, Cadets are able to share their experiences with their counterparts, schoolmates and peers, thus maximizing the investment made for their travel.

Ultimately, the Cadet Program offers Canadian youth a physically challenging, mentally stimulating, structured environment, which promotes community and environmental responsibility, as well as, personal health and well-being. The Cadet Program is an important investment in our youth today and a means of safeguarding our future tomorrow.

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