US Naval Sea Cadets: Leadership, life readiness training for youth
Published 12:21 pm Sunday, July 24, 2022
US Naval Sea Cadets learn skills to make them stand out from the pack. Classroom training, social interaction, team building, physical exercise, drills, fun field trips, technology deep dives and educational visits to other states not only give youth ages 10-18 a glimpse of US Navy and Coast Guard training without enlisting and the experience to “rank up” if they do enlist, the Sea Cadets is also readiness training for success in life regardless of career path.
Sea Cadets meet every other Saturday except in June and July, and 75 percent attendance is required.
“The program is designed to mold these kids into future leaders,” said Leroy Spellman, training officer. “These are youth who want to make something of their lives. Some come from a military background. The main thing we want to do is teach respect of self and others.”
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Many of the cadets plan on joining the military. In a time when students are graduating from college already saddled with thousands of dollars in debt, Spellman said the military’s tuition program is becoming more and more attractive.
Catha Doucet’s son, Alex Doucet, joined the US Naval Sea Cadet Corp five years ago at the age of 10.
“He’s different from most teens,” she said. “He was gung ho from the beginning.”
In his mother’s eyes, Alex’s biggest takeaway so far has been learning responsibility and his exposure to new places and instruction at a cost advantage.”
He will likely join the military at 18, but he is not sure which branch.
“This organization is unlike other programs in that we don’t take troubled youth,” said US Naval Sea Cadet Commanding Officer Christopher Stegall. “We don’t have the facilities for that.”
All the officers, including Spellman and Stegall are US military veterans and volunteers. It is not necessary to be a veteran to volunteer and volunteer recruiting is just as important to the group as cadet recruiting.
Opportunities to serve include conducting STEM programing, recruiting, transportation, classroom instructor in military history, military training, military law, firearms, culinary and field ops.
Stegall’s son wanted to join the Sea Cadets after he found out his cousin had joined a unit in Shreveport.
“He was a little reserved,” Stegall said. “He wasn’t one to get out in front. Now he is taking on leadership roles, making speeches.”
Alex Bonin found out about the US Naval Sea Cadets from a Navy Recruiter. He spent five years in the program and will join the Navy this year as an E-3.
“It would take at least 18 months to get to that pay grade if I had joined without the Sea Cadet training,” he said.
Nationwide, over 9,000 students participate in Sea Cadets. The local program is stationed at Chennault. Not every training exercise is conducted there. Physical training and drills are conducted in about a week, not the 10-weeks necessary for bootcamp, Spellman said. Or, Sea Cadets from Southwest Louisiana can go to the Great Lakes to participate in a two-week bootcamp program at a significantly reduced cost. Another program available to Sea Cadets for only $200, compared to the usual $1,800 fee is the Pensacola Naval Air Station Flight Academy.
“Two local Navy recruiters are going to be coming in to teach SeaPerch,” Spellman said. “It’s an underwater robotics program to help teach students to build underwater remotely operated vehicles.”
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department and local fire stations have hosted training sessions for local Sea Cadets. Last year it was the Sea Cadets who handled communication and transportation at the Chennault Air Show. They play a key role every year.
The group does have fun together, Spellman said. They went as a group to see the new Top Gun movie and visited Schlitterbaum in Galveston, staying overnight on the naval ship at SeaWorld Park.
James Dodd and his son Michael joined the USNSCC in 1993 and established a Lake Charles unit in 1995.
To find out more about the Sea Cadets or how to become a volunteer, contact Stegall at 409-291-0295 or Executive Officer ENS Darik Jahkur-Muhammed at 409-665-9000. Or, email Spellman at Division_Officer@seacadetslc.org.