Over the past few months in Trenchline we have been featuring articles about the Australian Army Cadets (AAC). We have heard from Headquarters AAC talking about the AAC as a program, we have published an article from Cadet Under Officer Mahala Karan on leadership in Cadets and last month we posted some short videos looking at the recent Chief of Army Cadet Challenge. This month, in the last of our featured articles on the Cadets, Capitan (AAC) Lynette Genders gives us some insight into the life of an adult volunteer in the AAC.
I work full-time in the not for profit industry working with people from low socio-economic backgrounds. I enjoy the day to day challenges this brings. I am also an Aussie rules football umpire and the Administrator for the Tasmanian Football Umpires Association. In my spare time I am a training officer with The Australian Army Cadets (AAC).
I have been a staff member with AAC since October 2011. I joined when I saw an advert in the local newspaper looking for volunteer staff. I recalled back to my teenage years as a cadet which I still consider some of the best years of my life. The confidence, leadership, and mateship I gained has set me up for life’s challenges today. I thought to myself that if I can pass on my knowledge and skills to just one cadet then I would have achieved my goal of giving back to the organisation that gave me so many opportunities.
Upon donning the camouflage for the first time and reading up on policies and procedures, I was shocked how much things had changed in the last 20 years; when I was a cadet we didn’t have mobile phones or energy drinks, and nut allergies weren’t spoken about back then.
Thinking I was only going to volunteer for a year or so, I soon found myself on my basic course with other staff from across Australia, some people who I still keep in touch with now. The long days and nights quickly turned into a week and before I knew it I had finished and passed the course and been promoted to Lance Corporal. Working in the Orderly Room at 63 Army Cadet Unit Derwent Barracks I was constantly on the go. I soon learnt many skills and got to understand the cadets' level of knowledge and skills.
For the last four years I have filled the role of Training Officer within the Headquarters focussing on training the cadets for the Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge, Adventure Training Award, Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army Drill Competition and promotion courses. I find this very rewarding as I get to work with a smaller group of cadets and expand their skills and knowledge. They then take these back to their units and pass it onto other cadets.
Over the years I have attended many activities with the AAC. This has not just been limited to Tasmania but nearly every other state and territory across Australia. The excitement you see in a cadet's face when you tell them they are going to another state for an activity is priceless, especially when they have never been on a plane before. That’s a whole new experience!
In 2015 I was selected to represent the AAC during the Army Cadet Exchange (ACE) to Gallipoli. Escorting eight cadets for a two week period was certainly a highlight and a rewarding experience for me, one I will not forget. Watching eight young and impressionable Australians learn about the history of WW1, walk in the footsteps of our heroes, and listening to stories from our guides was at times very confronting and moving. The cadets embraced the experience and opportunities given to them.
I feel that there are so many opportunities available to cadets and staff throughout the organisation. For some cadets these opportunities would not be available or achievable had they not been involved with the AAC.
On my most recent activities this year, the Adventure Training Award and Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge, it has been pleasing to have international cadets participate in our activities. Not just for the Australian Cadets to make new friends and share their experiences, but for the international visitors to experience how our cadets conduct themselves and take home fantastic memories of their time here. Learning the different languages for similar pieces of kit was a great talking point. Educating them about our wildlife certainly raised a few eyebrows!
My time to date with the Australian Army Cadets has been nothing less than rewarding and inspiring. The achievements that I see cadets making, either individually or together as a team, unit, company, battalion or brigade, gives me the personal drive to continue to develop new and exciting opportunities for cadets.