International Sea Cadet Association - ISCA
What makes the Sea Cadets special ?
Most youth organizations working with cadets probably think that they are special in comparison with others. And it's probably the same in all countries and among all kinds of youth organizations. The youngsters enter an association of common interest and embrace the association's views. Security in the group setting creates territorial thinking and they have difficulties seeing the benefits of other youth groupings. Of course it is the same also with Sea Cadets when they compare themselves and their training with cadets from other branches of the armed forces or with young people in other organizations. But there are parts of the Sea Cadets´ activities that make their existence special and unique.
The sea requires a great understanding and knowledge from those who use it. One day it may be quiet and calm and thereby inviting to all sorts of activities. The next day it may be violent and deadly dangerous if you have not learned how to handle your ships´ material and have not learned the specific safety and forethought required at sea. The sea demands respect out of the ordinary. At the same time the sea gives rise to special emotions, to spirit of adventure and to many other experiences. What youth would not call himself a seaman among his other friends, and walk with wadding gait and in a confident way to show that he or she has learned from the following sentences:
- A good sailor would never ask for bad weather. He knows that it will come in all cases.
- A good sailor never goes looking for danger. He learns how to handle it.
- A good sailor knows that it is always too late to repent afterwards.
The sea has traditionally been the main opportunity for people from different countries to meet. Although it is not so today, that feeling has remained in our genes and is part of the special feature of being a Sea Cadet. You travel over seas to meet others and to exchange goods and services.
We know that the sea's inscrutable and sudden behaviour attracts young people who want to experience something adventurous, exiting and special. Young people are curious and attracted to a medium that they often come close to but which can still be regarded as foreign and unexplored. The sea can never be overcome. You have to acquire knowledge and experience to live in symbiosis with it.
The boat referred to here is a boat which many people can row or sail together. It is available as part of cadet training in most ISCA countries. It is an essential part of the special feeling to have developed as a Sea Cadet.
The Boat as a Tool of Creating Team Spirit
Combined rowing is a great way to create team spirit. A number of rowers must act together in a coherent manner and cooperate and they are always interdependent.
The Boat in Leadership Training
Being a Cox or Coxswain is a beneficial challenge and good leadership training. It is the art of leading and keeping together a group in physically strenuous conditions with regard to seamanship, coordination, maritime safety, fatigue, endurance and proper naval behaviour.
The Boat in Physical Education
Rowing provides strength training for the whole body and is therefore used frequently in this regard in cadet training.
The Boat and Races
Rowing races have proven to be one of the best and most scenic race forms among marine competitions. Rowing races also provides additional nutrients to team spirit.
The Boat and Sailing
Normally the boats can be rigged and this therefore gives knowledge of sailing during more difficult and physically demanding conditions. To sail these boats gives one a real basic sailing education.
The Boat as a Tool for Seamanship
It takes a lot to deal with a lager boat in a correct manner concerning both rowing and sailing. This calls for an enjoyable and often valued education which gives good knowledge of seamanship and safety at sea as a basis for a common safety and for future activities related to the sea.
The Boat as Bearer of Traditions
In the theoretical education of how to handle a boat and during sailing and rowing, Sea Cadets are given knowledge of a long standing tradition and proper naval behaviour that has been used for a long time in Navies. The boats therefore are excellent bearer of traditions.
The Boat as a PR Tool
A properly managed and handled boat rowing with a proper, uniform and well coordinated crew always brings positive attention. Sea Cadets have on many occasions been asked with rowing during various events. It has regularly been mentioned, written and appreciated.
The boat education as a part of the naval cadets training provides, as we have seen, a special feeling and team spirit that is difficult to achieve with other organizations. Sea Cadets who show off their knowledge in a well maintained boat have every reason to be proud.
The ship is the hub of Sea Cadets´ development and therefore takes a special position. The ship provides, in addition to being a home, many sensations, experiences, feelings, perceptions and skills that are hard to find in other environments.
The Ship and Safety
We know that the requirement for safety in a ship will train the cadets in order, to be punctual and to be alert to changes in such a way that it is difficult to find comparisons with other organizations. The training being given in the use of marine safety equipment is extensive and unprecedented. When an incident or accident happens at sea the crew is alone and must be knowledgeable and proactive in an entirely different manner than in the corresponding situations on land. Outside help is not immediately available.
The Ship and Camaraderie
Sea Cadets are trained in both barracks and aboard ships. It is easy to see how the fellowship will become completely after enrolment. They understand in a quite different way that they must take each other in account and support each other and create a team spirit. The ship forms a feeling of "we" which is unique for Sea Cadets and which is unlikely to be experienced in other organizations that are more tied to barracks.
The Ship and Professional Pride
A ship is comparable to a mini-society. All on board have some kind of position, and thus a profession. The ship must be a reflection of society when it is at sea. And all on board must carry out their profession to get the society to function and to avoid unnecessary frictions. That requirement forms the Sea Cadets, especially if the ship is at sea for some time. Since everyone is dependent on each other, sailors usually acquired an unspoken pride when the activities on board run smoothly especially under hard circumstances. It also creates another form of pride, that of the ship. A well-managed ship with a well-educated and respected crew gives everyone in the crew a sense of pride.
The Ship and Yarns
It is so different to be on board in various situations that it often gives rise to more or less true stories. Who does not want to come home and tell their circle of friends who has been sick and has fed the fishes while you yourself have managed the ships rolling? Who does not want to talk about swinging lunch and dinner tables, about the breaking waves, which are sometimes described as skyscrapers? Who does not want to talk about some more or less true phenomenon that can be experienced at sea? Such tales or yarns and experiences will get Sea Cadets feeling a little special compared to others.
The Ship and Leadership
When we talk about ships at sea we also know that it is impossible to escape from problems in a ship. This is the most important part that really makes life very different and affects the Sea Cadets´ nature and therefore is unique. A sailor cannot push the problems aside and hope that someone else will solve them for you. Problems at sea, of whatever variety they are, must be resolved inside the gunwale. Sea Cadets will be promptly aware of that situation and understand that they have to adept to a leadership that is built on camaraderie, mutual trust, professional knowledge, experience, caring, safety and wisdom.The consequences of not following a ship's rules are more obvious than in other activities. This means that the cadets understand their role very clearly and often must act without detailed orders. They understand the benefits of fixed routines and that they are a part of a team that must function in all weather conditions and situations. Being in the crew and learning through the self-education that is so necessary aboard a ship results in a feeling of teamwork and camaraderie that would be difficult to find in another organization.
Final Remarks and Conclusions
This is a small selection of what is distinctive and special about being a Sea Cadet. There are certainly more things that can be named, but those described provides sufficient basis for conclusions about what is special about being a Sea Cadet. The conclusions that have been drawn give the following response:
- Unique leadership,
- Unique team spirit,
- Unique camaraderie,
- Unique safety,
- Unique experiences.
All based on education and training in boats and ships with the sea as the connecting link. These unique qualifications support young men and women to develop in mature and confident adults who will find their place in society at a large and maritime community in particular.