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 first joined cadets in England at age 13 and began teaching shooting when he moved to Canada.
At 61, he’s now semi-retired, but wants to stay with the adventure-based program until he’s forced to retire at 65. He loves what he 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, he said.
But for Fearn, it has been a big commitment. She also works night shifts as a nurse, and combined with heading up the regiment, her family has had to learn to be patient.
“It takes a lot of time out of my life,” she said. “I’m there two to three days a week when I’m only supposed to be there one day.”
But Jones said their heavy involvement has brought the already tight-knit family closer together. Now he and Fearn can’t go one conversation without mentioning the program.
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 championed the program for how it has changed Tyler, who is now more mature, confident and a better leader than before he joined.
“His confidence in himself grew,” she said. “He’s taken some of that leadership into his own personal life.”
Tyler said he was “really, really” shy when he first joined and 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 the 20 year old retired cadets a year ago, he continues to work in supply at the Bay Street Armoury and hopes to become an officer.
Neither Jones or Fearn see the popularity of the program waning. Fearn said she’s 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.”