BAIE VERTE, NL - While people have uprooted from rural areas of the province over the decades and many community groups have faded with time, the sea cadet corps on the Baie Verte Peninsula has remained constant for over half-a-century.
However, it exists today with one overwhelming challenge - enrolment.
212 Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps (RCSCC) Grenfell once saw over 100 youth from various communities participating in the program. That number has dwindled to just eight cadets - two boys and six girls.
Sarah Young, 17, of Burlington understands the great benefits of enrolling in such a program. She encourages youth to get involved with the cadet movement.
"I really enjoy teaching classes to the younger cadets and I enjoy going on sail weekends," Young said.
A Grade 12 student at MSB Regional Academy in Middle Arm, she joined the cadets while in her early teens. She now serves as her corps' acting guard commander.
"I give the commands to the other cadets on what to do with their rifles and where to go with all the cadet commands," she explained.
According to Young, being a cadet is an opportunity to make friends in this province and beyond.
"I even met friends from the (United Kingdom) when I went to camp," she said.
Young is a petty officer second class. She attended camp in Nova Scotia for three weeks this past summer.
"Whenever my cadets ask me about what camp is like I always encourage them to go," she said. "You go and try your best and it's a fun experience."
Sea cadets participate in a wide variety of activities, from boating and sailing to drill and marksmanship.
212 RCSCC Grenfell commanding officer A/Slt (acting sub-lieutenant) Lisa O'Reilly says the corps is at an all-time low when it comes to youth participation. It's difficult to attract new members while competing with sports and other activities for youth, she said.
Cadets in Baie Verte meet twice a week - one evening at Copper Ridge Academy and another at the College of the North Atlantic.
Being part of the cadet movement is a learning experience, according to O'Reilly, and instills discipline in youth. Sea cadets learn not only about sailboats and knot tying but also about the importance of contributing to their communities.
"We go to the long-term care unit at the hospital and we sing Christmas Carols to the patients," she said, referring to one of the activities cadets look forward to this time of year.
From Santa Claus parades to Remembrance Day ceremonies, cadets can be found participating in numerous events in the community.
Some cadets also look forward to summer training camp in Nova Scotia. The camp is an opportunity for cadets to enhance skills they have learned at their home corps. It's also a chance for youth to make friends with their peers who have similar interests.
"When they are in camp they can do sail, they can do band and guard, they can do drill, and physical activity," O'Reilly said. "And they get paid to go.
"Our cadets have two sail weekends at the Pasadena Sail Centre. They go to Corner Brook for a weekend of competition ... that's a fun weekend for them to get away."
The cadet movement accepts youth between the ages of 12 and 18.
Cadets can also earn high school credits by participating in the program.
In terms of leadership, O'Reilly said, more experienced cadets instruct the junior members.
"I'm there to guide them and help out, but it's our senior cadets who do all the teaching," she said.
This will be Young's last year in cadets, as she will be moving out of the area once she graduates high school in June.
"Cadets is honestly a lot of fun," she said "You are never bored. There is always something to do."