CLEARWATER - Area students between the ages of 11 and 17 can have the opportunity to train once a month at the Naval Reserve Center located adjacent to St Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and the Coast Guard base at 15300 Fairchild Drive. The Naval Reserve Center is home base for the SUNCOAST Squadron led by Commanding Officer, LTJG Gelia Palmer, NSCC. Those interested are invited to attend an orientation meeting the weekend of May 20-21 from 9 am to 10 am.
Once a month, the naval cadets drill in physical training, and undergo maritime and educational instruction by participating in a variety of activities on land and sea. Two programs are offered. Youths ages 11-13 train as Navy League Cadets. U.S. Naval Sea Cadets are ages 13-17.
Sea Cadets is not a naval recruitment entity but offers valuable life and survival skills in the military tradition. Says Instructor Katie Heartnett; "Many of the kids join because they are interested in a future military career, others participate to gain character building and leadership skills from the training. We have a drill once a month. Usually on the third or last weekend of the month. Cadets arrive at 7:30 and do running, swimming and weight training to stay fit before diving into other interesting activities and drills throughout the rest of the weekend."
LTJG John Tivoli says the benefits for the cadets are many. One major benefit for a military minded cadet is the chance to delve into different job areas. "If the cadets have a certain desire to check out specific military career areas, we arrange it with the Navy for them to have hands-on experiences at bases and aboard ships, so they can fully explore that interest before deciding which direction they will go in."
Recognizing the value of maritime youth organizations in other countries in 1958, the US Department of the Navy requested the Navy League of the United States to establish a similar program for America's youth.
On September 10, 1962 Congress federally incorporated the Naval Sea Cadet Corps under Public Law 87-655 (36 USC 1541).
Their mission according to their charter is:
"...through organization and cooperation with the Department of the Navy, to encourage and aid American youth to develop, train them in seagoing skills, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance and kindred virtues." - NSCC Charter - 36 USC 1541
Instructors for the programs are volunteers who have undergone FBI background checks. Most have military backgrounds.
In order to join the Naval Sea Cadet Corps applicants must meet certain criteria. It's mandatory for applicants to be U.S. citizens in good moral standing, and be able to pass a physical exam, have a minimum 2.0 grade point average, and be enrolled in a middle or high school. An initiation, annual and other certain fees apply.
More information can be obtained at: www.suncoastairsquadron.org.
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