“Attending international exchanges, traveling far distances for advanced trainings, I learned that there is so much out there, so much in this world. I wanted to see more of it. I got a bug for [world cultures] in the Sea Cadets and it fueled a lifelong hunger for adventure.”
Chloe Caso, former Sea Cadet Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
David (not his real name) loved <Sea Cadet training> and had some challenges. He struggled a lot with being away from home... Two <senior cadets> took David to the side, and David told them he was "just trying to make it to graduation."
The <senior cadets> advised David to focus on smaller goals, just make it to the next 30 minutes, make it through class, then to lunch, etc. David took the advice to heart and while he still struggled, that's what got him through. David loved how caring each Cadet was and learned that he can lean on them during tough times.
He absolutely loves the program and says they do so many fun things. As a parent, I am beyond grateful to everyone involved in Sea Cadets. The things these children learn will stick with them for life. During <recruit training> my Cadet learned how to overcome emotional and mental hardships, a tool that will serve him for years to come.
The mother of a cadet who attended Navy League Orientation (a boot camp style training, June 2022)
When I first joined Sea Cadets I didn’t really realize the impact it would have on my life. I thought I was joining just an ordinary club – if I may say – for the volunteer hours. Sea Cadets is the opposite of ordinary. I was sworn in with Commander Alan Starr and everyone welcomed me with open arms.
When I first begun I was clueless because even though I had dreams of potentially joining the military I had no idea how to implement things. Sea Cadets disciplined me, helped me grow into a better person, and made me stronger – mentally and physically. They encourage you to do more even when you are sure that you can’t do it anymore. They are always there to pick you up when you fall. Sea Cadets made a difference in my life by inspiring me to serve my country. I want to join the Coast Guard and I want to apply to the Coast Guard Academy and study phycology there.
Sea cadets enforced my fondness for serving this amazing country therefore encouraging me to ponder and explore the benefits that the military has for me. These past few years they have ingrained the core values of honor, commitment, service, and respect and since then I have been using those four core values in my everyday life. Besides teaching important life lessons, they also make sure that you are never alone and always having fun with your friends. In simpler terms, Sea Cadets rewired my whole life. Now I have more opportunities to do greater things.
J.O., Sea Cadet
I am xxx and while I’ve only been in Sea Cadets for less than a year, I’ve been around Sea Cadets since I was seven, observing my older brothers and patiently waiting until I could join. However, now that I’m a cadet, it has positively impacted my life in more ways than I can describe. For starters, I attended an underwater-robotics STEM training where I constructed (and took home) a submarine. I assisted with the Stuart Air Show. I met the Fort Lauderdale SWAT team and Bomb Squad. I toured a Naval destroyer as well as a Coast Guard station. I flew in a Cessna and met soldiers, sailors, and airmen. I bivouacked at Birch State Park where I learned basic survival skills: starting fires, building shelters, and purifying water. I graduated from two boot camps where I learned to respect my superiors, care for my shipmates, and master military knowledge. I also participated in a 5k run/walk last September.
Because of Sea Cadets, I have met many different people from many different backgrounds. Since joining the program, I have grown so much. I have become more responsible by completing my coursework, advancing rapidly, and properly caring for my uniform. Sea Cadets has instilled discipline in me and has taught me military knowledge. It has given me the opportunity to obtain numerous leadership positions, has taught me to respect people, and has enabled me to earn multiple ribbons and medals. Sea Cadets has ultimately become a very positive influence in my life.
Thomas S., Sea Cadet
Unfortunately, we don’t always remember a lot from our childhood. All those first moments: your first time walking, first time talking, maybe even your first time crashing a bike. What I do remember was the first time I heard about Sea Cadets. The night my dad showed me the recruitment video for Sea Cadets, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Then there were the two years I had to wait until my 11th birthday, and I would wait with more anticipation than a room full of stock brokers.
There I was, getting my first uniform, marching in my first parade, and getting my first promotion. Then came League Orientation. It was a warm, bright sunny day in Connecticut. Nothing gave me any hints about what was to come. Being woken up at 4:30 in the morning by 5 teenagers and a pair of trash can lids was an experience I couldn’t be prepared for. What I came to realize was that there were dozens of other cadets my age in the same exact situation. There was no getting out of this alone: we had to work together.
As the days passed we became closer, and the days started to become a fun challenge. That prepared me to take on new challenges, like moving to a new state. After enduring a grueling basic training in Virginia, I made my way down to Florida with a head full of thoughts. Thinking about what kind of friends I would make, how to get good grades at a different school, and what would xx Sea Cadets offer me. Entering into both high school and the xx Division, I hit the ground running.
Because Sea Cadets prepared me to live away from home by myself, I was the only freshman chosen to compete at Princeton and Harvard with my school's debate team. This is why I branched out to training in and outside of Sea Cadets with topics that interested me, like the Jack D. Gordon Institute, where I studied with members of the CIA, FBI, and DSS. After 2 years in the xx Division, I was chosen to be a member of the color guard team. The more I participated, the greater the responsibilities I was given. Soon I was giving speeches at Navy League dinners, and I was promoted to Lead Petty Officer.
I learned the importance of working with every cadet in my unit. There were more roles for me to fill, as a mentor and motivator, discovering leadership beyond the rank. Now I had to work with a team, delegating tasks and forming new friendships. Suddenly my shell cracked and fell off, as I found myself radiating confidence and positivity, guided by a stern moral compass. I know that because of Sea Cadets, I can and will excel in any agency or profession I choose, letting Honor, Courage, and Commitment guide my decisions.
Mike R., Sea Cadet
Since 2015, I’ve been a member of the United States Naval Sea Cadets, which is without a doubt the best division to be a part of in my eyes. So, when people ask me how it has changed my life, I tell them how it has transformed my life. I’d like to pose a new question: how has it not changed my life? The days I walked through the doors at base will stay with me for the rest of my life. A vulnerable 11-year-old who had no idea she was about to go on an adventure that would transform her into the woman she is today. After all these years, I remember the first face I was met with being someone I regard to be my second family. I was terrified since I had never been a part of a program like the sea cadets or done anything else outside of school. She immediately made me feel at ease and made me even more enthusiastic to be a member of the xxx Division. You see, I was young and immature, unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. People like Mrs. xxx and the entire xx division, on the other hand, rapidly assisted me in discovering my vocation. Which meant not only leading but leading with the goal of assisting people to the best of my ability. I came into this division having trouble advocating for myself, staying in shape, and figuring out who I was.
Drill was held every Saturday morning at an early 7 a.m. Those early morning wakeups, however, were well worth it.
When I didn’t want to keep pushing, I remember some of the people who did. They showed me that just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. All it takes is a bit more effort on your part to push back. Xyz family all encouraged me and taught me to enjoy the challenge when I was struggling. To have a desire for it because even the most powerful people struggled and likely wanted to give up at some point. But did they? No. They were the ones who pushed themselves harder got back up faster and pushed their minds to new heights they didn’t realize were possible. And they all made me exactly that person just described. I could never have envisioned myself as such a person. However, here I am. Helping other cadets in the same way that I was aided. Not because of any merit, but because I enjoy assisting others. I’m not interested in the shiny medals or applause. Every day, I want to be able to return home knowing that I helped someone who was struggling. It gives me satisfaction to know that I have contributed to the confidence of the cadets under my command, just as the many leaders who molded me into one did for me.
If I had to sum up how sea cadets have influenced my life, I’d say humility. You see, I’ve never been the kind to sit here and start rubbing it in the other teams' faces or gloating about how awesome I am after any tiny accomplishment, such as winning an event at flagships.
I have always in my heart preferred being a humble person. Using what I know to help people not telling them what they should know. Because we all started with very little experience. That does not make you less than others, nor does it make those who do know better than you. It only allows that other person the opportunity to mentor that other person, not to boast but to use the difference in skill as a chance to teach. Who benefits from boasting, after all? Nobody. At my recruit training, a cadet staff member told us all a quote that I will never forget. Because that perfectly encapsulates what I’ve learned from sea cadets about what a leader embodies when it comes to humbleness and humility.
She said, “remember to stay true to yourself in the dark and keep that humbleness in the spotlight.” I believe that everyone should hear this quote and, more importantly, live by it. Have all of history’s greatest leaders sat around for hours bragging about how terrific they are? No. They’re sitting here lecturing the American people how they might improve for the greater good. Trying to figure out how to help, especially if there isn’t an obvious way to aid. Trying to find all ways to help their people. Because a leader’s job is not to be overweening but to lead and guide their followers. I learned to be humble and kind from the xxx division and the sea cadets. But even so, taught me how to acknowledge and appreciate your achievements while remaining loyal to yourself. Because as a leader, with all your accomplishments, it’s easy to become pompous and arrogant. Mrs. xx and the xx division taught me how to be that guiding hand in the dark. And to be present when someone does not realize they might need help or does not know how to look for help.
This year marks the end of my 7-years adventure with the program, as well as the melancholy conclusion of my journey. But this is only the conclusion of this chapter, not the end of my journey. And man, has this chapter been jam-packed. In my life, it could have its own book. I’m ecstatic to be able to say that. I’m saddened that my time as a sea cadet with the xx Division is coming to a close. But I’m so pleased with where I’ve arrived because of this chapter. I was recently accepted into the <service> Academies Prep School and will join a class of xxx of the country’s brightest future leaders in the Class of 20xx after this year. But, as you can see, I’m not here to brag about that achievement.
I’m here to say that I know in my heart that without xxx division, I would not have been able to get in, much less work myself up to be a candidate. I knew I wanted to serve and protect my country from the moment I went through those doors on my first drill. Sea Cadets provided me with all the resources and confidence I needed to figure out how I wanted to serve my country. It provided me with the tools to focus less about the merits of assisting others and more about how fulfilled you will feel at the end of the day knowing you did your best to assist others in bringing out their best. I’ve spent the last year preparing for the next phase of my life. What 17 or 18-year-old can profess to know what they want to accomplish with their lives, let alone their careers? I am grateful to the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps for allowing me to be able to do so.
So, let me finish by saying that this division has given me so much that I cannot begin to express my gratitude. So now it’s my turn to give back, not just to the sea cadets, but to our country as well. Because the most important thing that the sea cadets taught me was how to serve others. And now I know it’s time for me to fully embrace the passion they sparked in me. I thank XX and XX, among many others, for molding me into the person I am today and instilling in me the confidence I never knew I possessed. I will never forget the lessons this division has taught me because without it, I would not be who I am today.
To sum up, I believe a better question is how the xxx divisions and sea cadets have not affected my life. I’ve had the privilege of guiding many cadets and to learn so much and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Madeline P., former cadet
One of the most memorable pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever heard came when I was just 18. My dad offered this to a new dad, and I overheard it: “Whatever your kids are involved in, you’re involved in.”
Fast forward 22 years and that means we are all-in on U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. This amazing organization is completely run by volunteers. I will admit that the “mama bear” side of me was a little hesitant to have my kids spend so much time with people that I didn’t know. But I didn’t need to worry. Every single adult I’ve encountered in this program is a top-notch human being.
Most volunteers I’ve met are parents who have had kids or grandkids come through the program; some are retired military who want to give back. I have met several folks whose kids are long grown, but they’ve stayed with the program for 6, 8, 10, or even 20 years because it is just THAT good.
Our training had 10 adults committed helping out in some capacity. TEN! We all pass background checks and commit to required annual training hours. We are a highly trained volunteer corps with strict protocols in place to ensure cadet safety above all.
We also have adults who aren’t even Corps members give their time and expertise to our Cadets. Our friend did a 45-minute zoom with our Marksmanship cadets, sharing his knowledge and wisdom from his 30+ year public service career. The cadets loved it!
As a mama, it’s invaluable to have other adults helping to teach and lead my kids. For kids to have other adults who care about them, instruct them, and cheer them on not because of obligation, but just because of who they are, is magical to a developing brain. On a subconscious level, they are learning that the world is good, that people are good, and that THEY are good. The old wisdom that “it takes a village to raise a child” is still true - and probably even more true - in this day and age. This is the BEST village!
A volunteer and parent
I want to tell you about Advanced Trainings! The Sea Cadets “claims to fame” are the week-long (or longer) training camps that are held all over the country during winter, spring, and especially summer breaks. Training topics cover orientation/boot camp to culinary, medical, special warfare, STEM, marksmanship, scuba, aviation, and leadership, just to name a few. (Cadets can do mini SEAL training! How cool is that?!) The cost to attend is extremely fair - Here are some of my impressions of our cadets:
I was so impressed with these young people. They are 10-18 years old. They came from all over the eastern US. (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Washington DC, Long Island, and Nebraska, just to name a few places.) They did amazingly fun things and amazingly hard things. They spent 6-7 days away from home, some of them for the first time ever, sleeping on Army cots in the Indiana National Guard armory. They got letters from home, but had no access to phones or electronics, and had no calls home. (Happy to report that everyone survived the screen withdrawal, too. ) They stood security watch every night. They did PT (physical training… aka exercise) every day. They learned to shoot rifles, and how to do it safely. They spent time in the classroom studying all sorts of skills and terminology - and there WERE tests! They ate new foods. They made new friends. They learned teamwork, resolved their differences, and helped each other thrive throughout the week.
They were a sight to behold in their dress whites during graduation, where they marched with precision and stood at attention for the entire 90 minute ceremony - which was choreographed and taught by the most senior cadets, NOT by the adults. I think my two kids who attended matured by at least a year each. (They are even getting along better! What?!) It was a true privilege to meet these kids and watch them in action last week - and to see the principles in action that are, well, drilled into them during their monthly drills throughout the year. The Sea Cadets mission is to create leaders of character, and these 40 or so kids are well on their way!
Mother of a cadet, 2022
As a Sea Cadet, I participated in many TWT's (two-week training summer training sessions as they were then called), including a two-week operational training cruise on the nuclear carrier, USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on which, as part of the Quartermaster's department, I not only got a first hand view of flight ops in the "VACAPES" off of Norfolk, observed Soviet incursions by AGI's and Tu-95 "Bear" aircraft, and to plot courses, but steered her helm for a solid half hour under the supervision of my assigned active duty "running mate". Others of our group worked on the flight deck itself during flight ops--closely supervised and directed by their running mates, of course.
On the USS Glover (FFG-1098) I got to hang out in sonar and listen to whales, work as a deckhand, observe all kinds of sea life (including an Ocean Sunfish, a Whale Shark, and plenty of dolphins and flying fish) on our way from Norfolk up to Rockland, Maine for their annual Seafood Festival and back. Other TWT's I was able to participate in included Recruit Training at then-NTC Orlando Florida (with a day in Disney World), Basic aviation school designed for Sea Cadets at NAS Willow Grove, PA, do field firing and maneuvers with the SeaBees (RNMCB-21) during their two week reserve annual training in Quantico, VA, with a trip to Washington, D.C., trips to the New London and Groton, CT, to the Sub Base with time in their emergency wet-trainer, and many others too numerous to continue here. All this led to a great interest in the Navy-Marine Corps team and an eventual career as a Marine Corps officer via the U.S. Naval Academy.
George D., USMC retired, former Sea Cadet 1982
"The number of opportunities this program has given me is unmatched. It has shown me what true leadership looks like and how to emulate the leaders I admire. The leadership opportunities and career knowledge the Sea Cadets have given me have helped me to hone in on my future plans. I hope to attend the US Naval Academy and further my love for the Navy and leadership. Sea Cadets has fostered and contributed to my future plans in immense ways I am just beginning to understand."
"From a shy recruit to a Sea Cadet Chief leading whole platoons, this program has impacted me greatly. With the help of many mentors and leaders, I have come to learn determination and leadership. My confidence has also reached new heights. Thanks to the Sea Cadets, I am ready for Air Force basic training, service in the Air National Guard, and the rigors of college."
"Sea Cadets has absolutely shaped me into the person I am today. I have learned so much about myself and how to become a better leader. With my fellow shipmates, I’ve learned what it truly means to be a mentor, a leader, and a friend. Sea Cadets has opened my eyes to the future and has become a major inspiration for my decision to enlist in the Navy and pursue medicine throughout my career in the military."
"I can say without a doubt that Sea Cadets has changed me as an individual. Through this program, I learned professional skills, teamwork, communicating effectively, discipline, attention to detail, and what dedication means. I have met many great people along the way, seen some awesome things, and worked at the speed of light. I hope to be an officer qualified in submarines in the Navy someday."
"Sea Cadets has helped me figure out exactly what I want to do when I'm older, and has given me lifelong friends and experiences that I will never forget. It has helped me develop my discipline and knowledge of the military and many other skills, including medicine, naval intelligence and leadership!"
"Sea Cadets has a big impact on my life. Being in the program has taught me leadership, discipline, and how important it is to work as a team. I plan to join the military in the future, and my experiences have definitely helped me expand my knowledge about possible career choices in the military."
"Sea Cadets has helped me set goals for myself, and it gave me a direction and plan for my life. It helped me develop leadership skills and expanded my knowledge. I'm almost done with my MBA!"
The mission of the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps is to build leaders of character by imbuing in our cadets the highest ideals of honor, respect, commitment, and service.
© 2022 Naval Sea Cadet Corps, TM & ® 36 USC 154106
The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, EIN 52-0808385