A Cadet from Barrie was one of ten chosen across Canada to participate in an unforgettable experience known as the cadet exchange program.
17-year-old Cadet Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO1) Torrey Barker, a member of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps BARRIE, returned home on 30 July after spending two weeks on a sea cadet exchange in the United States involving 10 cadets from across Canada, Barbados, Hong Kong, New Zealand and host cadets from the United States.
The cadet exchange program allows cadets to experience other cultures and participate in allied country cadet training programs. Cadets get to participate in national activities including unique site visits as well as diverse training opportunities and the program helps expand their cultural awareness and global perspective.
To apply, interested cadets must submit an application that includes a personal letter as well as a recommendation letter from the Commanding Officer. Torrey waited two months before she heard the news that she had been chosen.
“I was kind of in shock because out of all the cadets in the country only 10 are chosen and I was one of them, so it was definitely an honour,” said Barker.
The exchange took place in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland where cadets visited sites such as the White House, the Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery and several monuments and museums including the national museums of the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps and the Holocaust Museum.
They also visited the Marine Barracks in Washington, where they watched performances by the Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Band and the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
An especially memorable highlight was a visit to Norfolk, Virginia where the cadets saw the world’s largest naval base. Included was a tour of the United States Naval Ship (USNS) COMFORT, a large navy hospital ship.
During the trip, Barker mentioned that the part that stood out the most to her was the chance to visit the museums and the opportunity to have conversations with people from different countries about different monuments and various historic events. Her most valuable takeaway from the trip was learning how to better interact with others.
“There’s definitely language barriers without some people speaking English as a second language and people coming from different walks of life and not really knowing each other and we only had two weeks to get to know each other. Learning how to meet other people, getting to know them quickly and getting close with them because we were living together. It’s definitely a lot of teamwork…,” said Barker.
It is due to the dedication and commitment Barker has shown to the cadet program that she believes she was chosen.
“I think ever since I joined, I’ve just taken advantage of all opportunities. I’ve gone through all the weekly training, I’ve been on the drill team, the band, marksmanship team and biathlon. I’ve done a lot of community service events with the Legion,” said Baker. “I’ve just always been super involved and then I’ve continued to work my way up the ranks and earlier this year, I got the highest rank at our core and the highest position. I’m in charge of my core, so definitely a lot of leadership and teamwork [is] needed there.”
Barker is leaving in September to pursue medical science at the University of Western Ontario so this was her last cadet event.
“It was definitely a good way to top it off,” said Barker. “Being able to share that with my core this summer and show them pictures and memories. It’ll give my younger cadets an incentive to work towards.”
Torrey had been a cadet for around five and a half years. She originally was part of the Navy League in 2015 and then later became part of the Sea Cadets in 2018.
“If anyone’s in doubt, if they were ever thinking of [joining] cadets, I’d say give it a try. I know a lot of people doubted, but then they have no regrets because it’s just an opportunity you can’t find anywhere else and you only have a short six years of it from age 12 to 19. Now’s the time to try it out”.
BY: Amber Boies and Caleb Hooper