GROUPS MOULDING local leaders
Affiliated with the Australian Defence Force, the cadets have a long and proud history, with the first official unit established in 1866.
On the peninsula, teenagers interested in trying something rewarding and challenging can join the 201 Army Cadet Unit based in Dee Why.
Forming out of Beacon Hill High School in 1985, it is now one of the busiest cadet units in Australia.
Cadet under officer (CUO) Andrew MacGregor says being part of the group "enables you to come out of your shell through improving your discipline and leadership skills", and teaches you a myriad of practical skills including public speaking, first aid, survival training, navigation, firearms training, engineering and much more.
CUO MacGregor also believes that "the leadership experiences offered by cadets are unmatched by any other youth development organisation available to teenagers".
The Australian Army Cadets emphasises there is no expectation or requirement for cadets to pursue a career in the military after their time as a cadet. CUO MacGregor highlights however that the skills instilled through cadets can ensure any future personal decisions regarding the force are well informed. "Many cadets do go on to join the Defence Force because it teaches you a multiplicity of relevant skills, but there is no pressure to do so. Joining the NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service are also common future areas cadets move onto".
CUO MacGregor reaffirms the extensive application of cadet training through his current university studies. "I've found that the skills I picked up through cadets are invaluable - no matter what you choose to do after school," he tells Peninsula Living.
Australian Army Cadets is open to both males and females to join between the ages of 13 and 17. They 'parade' every Wednesday evening from 6.30pm until 9.30pm at 40 South Creek Road, Dee Why.
For more information, email email@example.com or visit armycadets.gov.au.
"It's all about building leadership at a young age," says Lizzie Cannon, district manager of the Girl Guides' Freshwater unit.
She says the guides also "instils a healthy respect for nature, community service, enjoying new and exciting experiences, and of course, socialising". Recent activities of the guides have included meeting with surf lifesavers, who gave the guides a tour of the surf club and talked about surf safety.
They also had a swim carnival as part of our water badge and even had an overnight stay on a tall ship at Darling Harbour called the James Craig.
Ms Cannon says involving themselves in community service initiatives like Clean Up Australia Day and the Red Shield Appeal teaches the girls the importance of giving back.
"We offer the girls a broad range of activities, like camping at one of our guide properties where they can go canoeing and experience powerboats and stuff like that" she continues.
The Girl Guides is open to girls aged five to 18, and there are a number of Girl Guides locations across the Northern Beaches. For more information, phone 8396 5200 or visit girlguides.org.au.
The Sea Scouts is a branch of Scouts that, as the name suggests, focuses primarily on the water.
The Northern Beaches' local group, the 1st Bayview Sea Scouts, is based at Bayview Park on Pittwater Road. The hall overlooks the ocean and even has its own boat ramp, which is frequently utilised.
On top of learning all the usual skills you associate with Scouts - for example, tying knots, first aid and navigation - Sea Scouts teaches sailing, scuba diving, canyoning, abseiling and variety of camping and bush skills.
Scout leader Steve Dean says kids have to step out of their comfort zone, which helps with their development.
“It really brings [kids] out of themselves. Young people that might be quiet or shy become confident and outgoing,” he enthuses.
"As they grow older, we let them decide what they want to do - whether that be a sailing camp or something else - they have the necessary skills and knowledge to plan and run their own exercises, which teaches them to lead and is great for their selfesteem.”
The Scouts are also taught to give back to the community. This includes Salvation Army collections drink stations at the City2Surf and Pub2Pub, and Clean Up Australia Day participation.
Sea Scouts is open to both males and females. Bayview offers Cub Scouts (7.5 to 10 years); Scouts (10.5 to 14): and Venturers (14 to 17). They are always looking for not only adolescents, but scout leaders and parents to be involved. For more information, phone Mr Dean on 0411 751 185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Scouts motto really says it all — "Be prepared". Just ask the district commissioner, Phil Donald, who resides over nine of the 18 Scout chapters on the Northern Beaches, and he'll tell you that the skills and traits you acquire as a scout prepare you for your adult life.
"It creates independent and confident young people, who are community aware and have a respect for the environment,” he says.
"They also learn about safety in the bush, on the street and in the home, they can learn to fly at the base we use in Camden, and just learn general life skills like cooking, budgeting and using transport."
Mr Donald also says the local Scout groups are blessed by the peninsula’s natural environment.
"You can't buy [our location] - we've got everything at our ﬁngertips — the National Park, The Basin, the beaches... and we definitely make good use of it.”
The Scouts Is open to both males and females and has four different age groups — Joeys (Six to eight yea rs). Cubs (eight to 11), Scouts (11 to 15) and Venturers (15 to 18). But it’s not only for the kids, with Mr Donald saying the parents and volunteers get just as much out of it.
"We have family camps. trivia nights, and other outings... it really is as much fun for the parents," he tells Peninsula Living.For more information, phone Mr Donald on 0406 320 416 or visit nswscouts.com.au.