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The aim of the Canadian Cadets Organization is to develop in youth the attributes of good citizenship and leadership, promote physical fitness and stimulate the interest of youth in the sea, land and air activities of the Canadian Forces.

During the training year, from September to June, Cadets normally meet one evening per week and on some weekends. The training structure has progressive levels roughly equivalent to the number of years in the program. As cadets acquire skills and knowledge, they learn how to pass that knowledge on to younger cadets, thus creating a learning circle.

During the summer, selected cadets have the opportunity to attend one of the Cadet Summer Training Centres located across Canada, courses at which can last between one and seven weeks.  Normally, a cadet’s first course is a basic course. Each year that a cadet returns to a Training Centre, he/she participate in more advanced training.  Senior cadets may be employed to teach junior courses, similar to the system at the local level.  Senior cadets may also be selected to travel overseas as participants in one of many international exchanges.

Each squadron trains one night per week – a “parade night” – to undertake the local training program. The course of instruction is prescribed by the Director of Cadets and outlined in course training plans distributed to each squadron. The five year program provides cadets instruction in citizenship, leadership, survival training, instructional techniques, drill and ceremonial skills and the basics of aviation and aeronautics. In the fifth and subsequent years, cadets may be assigned to instruct these classes to the younger cadets. The local training begins in September and continues until June.

In addition to the mandatory weekly training syllabus, there are additional regularly scheduled activities that cadets can participate in optional training that includes band, firearms safety and marksmanship, biathlon, military drill practice, first aid training and competitions, and ground school instruction in preparation for gliding and flying scholarship courses. Many of these activities also involve regional, provincial, or national competitions between teams and individual cadets.

Throughout the year there are weekend exercises organized by the local squadrons.  Survival exercises, participation in Remembrance Day ceremonies, and familiarization flights are all common activities.  Cadet squadrons participate in community events such as parades and band concerts.

Many members of the Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) are former cadets who wish to continue their involvement in the Cadet Program.  Some are former Regular Force or Primary Reserve members, while others are RCMP officers, public servants, or interested parents or members of the local community who enroll to support the program.

At the community level, responsibility for the Cadet Program is shared between the squadron staff (military) and the sponsoring committee (civilian).