Victoria cadet corps features generational connection

Involvement in cadet organization has drawn family closer

Cheryl Fearn (second from right) poses with her sons Tyler

Cheryl Fearn (second from right) poses with her sons Tyler

Even though three generations of her family are in army cadets, Cheryl Fearn insists they’re not planning a takeover.

The mother of three and commanding officer for the Canadian Scottish Regiment cadet corp in Victoria joined her father, Dave Jones, and her eldest son, Tyler, in cadets as an officer in 2003.

She now holds the top position, which Jones also holds in a different corp.

“I’m proud she’s in the same rank,” said Jones. “Tradition dictates I salute her when I’m in her office.”

Jones joined cadets in England at 13 and became a shooting instructor when he moved to Canada.

At 61, he’s semi-retired, but he wants to stay with the adventure-based program until he’s forced to retire at 65. He loves what he has learned about teamwork and discipline and wants to pass that on.

“You had a place to go, you had comradeship,” he said.

Hooking Fearn into her current role wasn’t hard, Jones said, but it has been a big commitment. She also works nights as a nurse. Doing both jobs has meant her family has had to learn to be patient.

“It takes a lot of time out of my life,” Fearn said. “I’m there two to three days a week when I’m only supposed to be there one day.”

Jones said their involvement brought the already tight-knit family closer together.

At one point, Fearn’s two other sons were also in cadets, and one of them has stayed involved as a band instructor.  She also roped her husband into running sports at meetings when she first joined.

“Everyone (in our family) understands cadets,” she said.

She also credited the program for affecting change in Tyler, 20.

“His confidence in himself grew,” she said. “He’s taken some of that leadership into his own personal life.”

Tyler admitted he was very shy when he first joined, but his time with cadets changed that.

“I just love the program in general, all of the experiences that it gave me and all of the people that I met,” he said.

Although he left cadets a year ago, he continues to work in supply at the Bay Street Armoury and hopes to become an officer.

Neither Jones nor Fearn see the popularity of the program waning. Fearn has noticed a jump in the number of teens that stay the full seven years of the program.

“We have everything that (the young cadets) want (activity-wise),” said Jones. “They could be out there doing things with friends – look at the riots in Vancouver. But they want to come to cadets.”