Presidental Message to Members
It is a great honor for me to have been elected as National President at the 2012 Annual General Meeting at Burlington, Ontario. I look forward to the year ahead knowing that I can draw on the knowledge and experience of fellow members of the Executive Committee, Governors, Provincial and Territorial Committee Chairs, the Advisory Board, Honorary Members and the small but hard working staff at the National Office led by Executive Director Sarah Matresky. I also look forward to a productive working relationship with the SSO Air at DCdts, LCol Yves Therrien.
The next three or four years are going to be crucially important for the program. In 2011 when the seventy year anniversary was celebrated there were 453 squadrons operating. However, looking ahead to the seventy-fifth anniversary and factoring in recent developments concerning closing squadrons or merger or amalgamation with other units, I am less than confident that all 453 Squadrons will still be operational in 2016. One hundred and thirty-one of them are on the endangered list because enrolment is below the minimum level required.
An increased number of closures or mergers are becoming a distinct possibility in a number of locations. A paper is being prepared by Governors Bob Burchinshaw and Don Doern to stimulate discussion between all parties involved as to the protocols to be followed, decision making criteria, time frames and so on. An action plan to avert any such closure would be the preferred starting point. If these measures prove unsuccessful what guidelines, policies etcetera will be needed at all levels of the organization to protect specific interests both legal and financial. This is will a timely and useful document and I thank Governors Burchinshaw and Doern for their work in preparing it.
Attracting recruits is not the problem but keeping them enrolled is. I have said this many times before and will no doubt keep saying it:
“It is the quality of the program provided locally and the squadron’s reputation in the community that determines the retention level”
Mandatory, Complimentary and Optional activities at the squadron level plus Regional activities such as competitions must combine to deliver the program as advertised. If this does not occur the cadet(s) become disillusioned and quit. Word of mouth advertising, good or bad, is very, very powerful.
Retention levels and how to increase and maintain them will always be the major challenge because they are dependent on the quality and scope of the program offered locally. September 2012 will mark the start of training year number four since then National President Joe Johnson authorized the preparation of a report proposing an expansion of the role League members play in supervising cadets at optional activities, particularly those that are League sponsored. The report generated much discussion between all parties concerned but no specific scenarios have been agreed to thus far. Discussion is continuing and it is hoped that this matter will be finalized in the near future.
Far from contemplating the closure of squadrons we should be planning just the opposite. Our goal should be to have more than 453 squadrons at strength for the 75th and from Alberta there is good news in this regard. Three more squadrons are being formed. Congratulations to the Sponsoring Committees of those communities, to the Alberta Provincial Committee and the Chair, Darlene LaRoche and also to all other jurisdictions who are in the process of bringing more squadrons into the program.
My thanks to all our members and volunteers for their work on behalf of the people who matter most of all – the Air Cadets.
To Learn – To Serve – To Advance
Air Cadet League of Canada