Become a Cadet

What if you were told that there was a dynamic, structured youth program that offered Canadian youth a variety of interesting and challenging activities?

What if you were told that this same program developed in youth an increased level of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness?

Cadets are motivated to improve their physical fitness, to work harder at their academic studies and to give back to their communities through volunteerism and citizenship activities.

The Cadet Program also has a direct impact on Canadian society as a whole. Cadets have the opportunity to take part in various leadership roles throughout the program. There is definite value in having well-rounded, community-minded, experienced young people who are ready to assume their places as tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers.

How much does it cost?

The Cadet Program is funded by the Department of National Defence in partnership with the civilian Navy League, Army Cadet League and Air Cadet League of 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 — making the Cadet Program a viable option.

Who can join?

To be eligible for membership as a Cadet one must:


  1.  be a legal resident of Canada:
    NOTE: A legal resident of Canada is a Canadian citizen, a landed immigrant, or, the dependant of a person who is lawfully resident in Canada on a temporary basis for the purpose of education or employment.
  2. provide proof of provincial health insurance coverage or equivalent;
  3. be at least 12 years of age;
  4. not have attained 19 years of age;
  5. normally be in good physical condition;
  6. not belong to another corps or squadron; and
  7. be acceptable to the Commanding Officer (CO) of the cadet corps or squadron.

The CO of the cadet corps or squadron shall review and approve all membership applications; however, he/she shall consult with the Regional Cadet Support Unit (RCSU) when there is uncertainty as to whether an application meets the basic membership standards or an application requires special consideration such as:

  1. application from a youth who is not yet a legal resident of Canada; and
  2. application from a youth who has a medical, physical or mental condition specified in Part 2 of the CF 1158 that cannot be accommodated as outlined in the What about medical, physical and mental conditions section below.
What about medical, physical and mental conditions?

In that a minimum standard of medical fitness has not been established for membership of a cadet in a corps or squadron, a person with a medical condition or who is mentally or physically challenged may become a member at the Commanding Officer’s discretion.

The Commanding Officer of the Cadet Corps or Squadron shall ensure that:

  1. the parent or guardian describes the medical, physical or mental condition at part 2 of form CF 1158;
  2. the corps or squadron has the physical facilities and the staff required to provide cadet training in light of the medical condition or the mental or medical challenge;
  3. the ability of the corps or squadron to provide effective training to other members will not be reduced; and
  4. the parent or guardian and the prospective cadet are aware that minimum medical fitness standards do exist for attendance at Cadet Summer Training Centres (CSTC) and for the Exchange Programmes. The parents or guardians shall be informed that cadets with a medical condition may not be permitted to attend summer training. This fact must be clearly understood by all parties prior to accepting a person with a medical condition, or who is mentally or physically challenged as a member of a cadet corps or squadron.
But I’m not 12 years of age yet?

You have to be at least 12 years old and under 19 to join the Cadet Program. 

If you are under 12 years of age but wish to participate in a Cadet Program, “Navy League Cadets” aimed at youth aged 9-13 is a program run entirely by one of our civilian partners, the Navy League of Canada.

How do I join Cadets?

The Cadet training year follows that of the school calendar year, beginning in September and ending in May/June (depending on the Cadet Corps or Squadron). “Corps” are for Sea and Army Cadets and “Squadrons” are for Air Cadets!

Most Cadet Corps and Squadrons will host recruiting nights in September and again in January. If you are shy and want to join with the greatest number of youth, September and January are your best months to join as there will be other youth equally as shy and new.

Saying that, you may join at anytime during the cadet training year (September to May June), however, if you are interested in attending summer camp or want to progress to the next proficiency level/star/phase the following year – you will need to have joined NO LATER THAN March 31.


You will first need to decide if you would like to join Sea Cadets, Army Cadets or Air Cadets. You cannot join more than one program.


Once you have chosen which element (Sea, Army or Air Cadets) interests you the most, you will then want to find the Cadet Corps (Sea or Army) or Squadron (Air) that is closest to you (or perhaps the one that your friends are already members of).

To help you find the Corps or Squadron closest to you, please visit the Corps and Squadron Directory. You may either enter your city, postal code or may even type the Cadet Corps or Squadron number if you know it. For best results, we recommend that you use your postal code.

Remember, Corps are for Sea and Army Cadets and Squadrons are for Air Cadets!

At this point, you know which element you would like to join and where it is. You should also have been able to see which evening and time that they meet at and perhaps even a contact number. You are welcome to contact them to find out further information and details or you may attend on the evening and time that they meet.


Now that you are ready to join Sea, Army or Air Cadets, you will need to go and visit the Corps or Squadron that you have chosen to join. Upon joining you will need to bring a few things with you which include:

  1. a photocopy of the birth certificate or equivalent; and
  2. a photocopy of the health insurance card (where available).

The Cadet Corps or Squadron will also provide you with a few forms that will need to be completed and signed. These completed forms, along with the photocopies of your health insurance card and birth certificate start your Cadet Personnel Record. Your Cadet Personnel Record is stored safely and securely at the Cadet Corps or Squadron that you are joining. There is no need to send forms or documentation anywhere!

Access to Cadet Personnel Records are restricted to those individuals authorized in writing by the Commanding Officer (CO) of the cadet Corps/Squadron pursuant to the provisions of the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act.

Cadets/parents/legal guardians shall have access to the cadet’s file by asking the CO or the Administration Officer of the Cadet Corps or Squadron.

Cadet Personnel Records are kept until the date at which the cadet reaches the age of twenty-five. The files may only be destroyed at that time in accordance with the Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) on the Management of Recorded Information and the Treasury Board Policy on the Management of Government Information.

When you leave or age-out of Cadets, make sure to ask for a copy of your Cadet Personnel Record. You never know if you will need it in the future and it makes for a great keepsake!


Now that you have completed all the necessary forms, have the proper documentation and have been accepted for membership – welcome to the Cadet Program!

Experiences that you cannot get anywhere else are about to begin! Experience the journey!

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