Cadet Corps now seeking young recruits

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published September 11, 2018

MADISON HEIGHTS/OAKLAND COUNTY — A youth development group overseen by the U.S. Navy is now looking for members in Madison Heights and other communities around Oakland County. 

The Cadet Corps includes two groups: those ages 10-14, in the Naval League Cadet Corps, and teens ages 13-18, in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. There is an interview and application process — as well as a cost of $250 per year — but organizers say that the skills and lessons learned will last a lifetime.

The first meeting will be held in Goodrich the weekend of Sept. 22. Additional meeting areas are being considered, including one in Holly, another in Auburn Hills and one in Madison Heights. Currently, the group meets at the Birmingham/Troy American Legion Post 14. 

“If you like adventure (video games) like ‘Fortnite,’ ‘Minecraft’ and ‘(Call of Duty) Black Ops,’ put down the controller and check us out, because we will teach you how to build houses and robots, how to become a Navy Seal, and many other things,” said Matthew Rak, the group’s instructor.

Rak said that the group will learn practical skills such as pipe fitting, electrical work and construction trades. The group will also learn leadership qualities and develop a deeper appreciation for military history and patriotism. Cadets will also be involved in community service. 

In a prior year, one cadet spent a week with the Coast Guard at Belle Isle, learning how they patrol the river. Other learning experiences may include search and rescue operations, scuba diving, administering first aid, and “whatever else the kids are interested in learning,” Rak said. 

The group is authorized to wear naval uniforms with special patches. At press time, there were only two official members and five recruits. The group is still forming and aims to include 25 cadets.

“Without youth development groups, I would not be where I am today,” Rak said. “I was a Troy Police Explorer, and they helped me get on the right path. This is my way to give back and assist the next generation.” 

Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell said he encourages parents to enroll their kids in the group.

“Leadership is most certainly a learned skill. Whether you are a quiet leader who leads by example through a life of integrity, or an outspoken leader who stirs passion and action from others, you need to learn how to lead,” Hartwell said. 

The mayor said that the cadets will develop confidence in their abilities and values, and then use that confidence to improve the lives of others. They will also learn practical skills.

“The Cadet Corps will provide an alternative to the cold isolation of modern education by teaching the kids how to interact with others and to engage in a trade,” Hartwell said. “And they wear a pretty impressive Navy-approved uniform to go with their résumé-padding experience.” 

For more information about the Cadet Corps, including how to apply, call (248) 632-2079 or email olympiabattalion@gmail.com.