For the first time since 2012, Gunning Cove teen Travis Nickerson won’t be signing up with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps (RCSSC) 180 Saxon this September.

After seven years in the Corps he has aged out and has plotted a course towards a career in the Navy, largely in part because of the training and experiences he had the opportunity to take part in as a cadet with 180 Saxon.

Already having an interest in the military, Nickerson was encouraged by mom Shelley to give cadets a try when he was 12. 

“I tried it out for a year and I liked it. It had its ups and downs, but I had fun the whole time,” said Nickerson. “The program helped me build up a lot of confidence. Cadets is a friends and family environment because they make you feel welcome when you first show up. All the senior cadets help you out and then in turn the roles switch and you help the younger cadets when they first join.”

Some of the experiences Nickerson enjoyed as a cadet included summer training camps where basic seamanship, basic sailing and ship’s boat operator courses were mastered, earning Nickerson his first aid certification, a radio operators card and small boat operating licence; the opportunity to travel on the Navy frigate HMCS Toronto for a week from Quebec to Halifax, being deployed on two tall ships, and being hired as staff as an instructor during training camp. 

Having graduated from Shelburne Regional High School in June, Nickerson is now enrolled in the one-year marine industrial diesel repair program at the Nova Scotia Community College. From there his plan is to join the Navy as a marine technician. 

“I like the idea of joining the Military,” he said. “You get to travel and do all kinds of things.”

 Nickerson said he encourages young people give cadets a try. 

“Even if you’re unsure about it give it a shot. You don’t know if your going to like it or not,” he says. “There are tonnes of opportunities. You can go sailing and go to international tournaments, be a musician and play in the tattoo, or take marksmanship and compete in national and international biathlon.”  

Forming a biathlon team is one of the focuses for the 180 Saxon this year, said Shelley Nickerson, who is a member of the Navy League, one of the supports for the cadet program.  

“We want to get a biathlon team,” she said. “This year the focus is more on sports, more orienteering with youth at Islands Park.”

The 180 Saxon will start out in full force on Sept. 9, meeting every Monday night at their headquarters located at the Shelburne Community Centre. Other cadets corps and squadrons will also be starting this programming this month. There is no cost for joining cadets.

The 180 Saxon cadet corps was first established in 1962 and has been getting more active in recent years, said Nickerson. 

“They do give a lot back to their community,” she said, volunteering to help out and take part in community events throughout the year. The 180 Saxon are also supported by the Lockeport Legion.