NEPA Youth Building Character with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps
Posted: October 17, 2022
U.S. Navy-Affiliated Youth Leadership Program Offers Local Teens Unique Character and Resume Building Experience
The Sea Cadets Wahoo Division SS-238 proudly welcomes NEPA’s bravest and brightest young men and women between the ages of 13 and 17.
Since 1962, the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps has maintained its mission to create strong leaders. For over sixty years, the youth program has strived to instill within every cadet the highest degree of honor, respect, commitment and service. In that time, the national U.S. Naval organization has grown exponentially. Today, there are over 380 Sea Cadets divisions in 47 states and Guam and Puerto Rico.
And if you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you had no idea the program existed. “In my mind it’s the best youth and leadership program that most people don’t know of,” says Wahoo Division Commanding Officer, Dave Hudzinski. “I hate to say that, but it’s a fact.” Hudzinski helms Wahoo Division SS-238, NEPA’s local Sea Cadets unit. And while the Wahoo Division currently claims close to 20 cadets, Hudzinski is certain that there are plenty more out there who’d be interested if they only knew about it.
The Sea Cadets are for anyone, really.
The U.S Naval Sea Cadet Corps, according to CO Hudzinski, is a lot like any other youth leadership organization. There are organizations that focus on science or medical professions. Some aim to inspire young, business-minded individuals or the politically-inclined. The Sea Cadets instills leadership qualities in young men and women through a practical maritime military training framework. “For better understanding, I’d say it’s very similar to a Junior ROTC program, though it’s not quite that,” adds Hudzinski.
While the Sea Cadets typically draw in students with an interest in future military service, it is not a military recruitment effort. It’s a concern that, Hudzinski understands, is front and center on the minds of potential cadets and their parents. In fact, upon meeting parents and future cadets, he often opens with, “There is never any pressure or obligation to sign up for military service.”
Many of our cadets already have that idea in their mind that they might want to pursue a military career. Some are young, 13- or 14-year-olds that come to us with the thought of going into the Naval Academy. Also, we have many students that join with no interest in going into the military, and we can tell that they get just as much out of the program as others who are doing it solely out of an interest in moving on to careers in the military.
Commanding Officer Dave Hudzinski, Sea Cadets Wahoo Division SS-238
Real Training for Real Life
Not too tough, but a little tougher than soccer camp.
The Sea Cadets program consists largely of drill or training weekends spread out over the course of the year. According to Hudzinski, “Every aspect of the program is military-based.” For cadets, that means learning colors and military terminology, courtesy and etiquette, marching, wearing military uniforms and physical training.
The drill weekends also feature presentations, though they’re not necessarily all military-related. They have met and worked with police dog trainers and got an up-close look at the state police helicopter. “There’s kind of a wide variety of activities,” Hudzinski says.
And then there’s the real fun. Typical drill weekends also include an activity. The Wahoo Division has taken on the Ropes Course at Camp Kresge. They’ve participated in the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail Cleanup. Some weekends include earning swim qualifications at the Pittston YMCA, or firearm training at The Cabin Armory and Training Center. They have even travelled to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for a tour and a football game.
“The key point is that we understand these young men and women are in school all week and they don’t want to sit around,” according to Hudzinski. “So, we want to make sure we’re getting them out for as much activity as possible. You know, we try to keep it fun.”
Leadership, Responsibility, Respect
Local, seasoned Sea Cadets put their unique training to use.
A general curiosity about the U.S. Naval Academy drew 17-year-old Pocono Mountain West student, Joe Ewing to the Sea Cadets. The Wahoo Division Chief Petty Officer hopes to use his experiences with the Sea Cadets to prepare for a future in Naval service. “For me, I think the leadership qualities I’ve gained are the most important,” says Ewing. “I’ve grown so much as a leader during my time in the Sea Cadets.”
Though Ewing claims he was never actually the shy kid, he credits the Sea Cadets with bolstering and building his self-confidence over the past three years. “If someone would have told me 3 years ago that I would be leading entire companies when I staffed recruit training, I would have thought they were kidding.”
For Ewing, the greatest benefit to joining the Sea Cadets has been the wide range of experiences the group has exposed him to. “Being able to go all over the country and try so many cool things has been very rewarding and has given me lots of memories.” He continues, “You also get to meet some of the best people who have the same interests as you.”
Currently, Ewing is a candidate seeking appointment for the class of 2027 at the U.S. Naval Academy. He will also be applying to Penn State and the NROTC Program.
Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone
Training and hard work pays off.
Since 5th grade, Wahoo Division Chief Petty Officer Cassidy Skoranski knew she was destined for a career in the U.S. Army. When high school, rolled around, with the help of her parents, she began looking for camps and other programs that might suit her interests. That’s when she found the Sea Cadets. “Although it was a naval program, it had every aspect of the military lifestyle that I wanted to experience,” Skoranski says. “I sat in on one drill and was absolutely hooked.”
For the 17-year-old Wyoming Seminary student, there’s a sense of adventure with the Sea Cadets that’s unmatched in just about any other type of program. “I have attended Flight Training at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola Florida, Scuba Training twice, first in Maine and second on a dive boat off the coast of Catalina Island, and Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and that’s just to name a few.”
While Skoranski has her sights set on a military career, she notes that the qualities she and fellow cadets gain through the program and the drill weekends are highly transferrable. “Sea Cadets does not just develop military or naval leaders; it develops leaders in every sense of the word, leaders in the classroom, on the soccer field, in musical production, in the workplace — leaders in every aspect.”
The multi-sport standout has little doubt she’ll to continue utilizing her Sea Cadets training well beyond high school. Skoranski plans to attend college and Army ROTC in the future. If Skoranski could sum up her experience, she’d say, “These trainings offer you a space to push out of your comfort zone, test your limits, build unbreakable bonds, and grow your leadership skills.” She continues, “It’s by far the best leap of faith you will ever take.”
Learn More About the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps
The Sea Cadets Wahoo Division welcomes cadets from Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. There are nominal fees associated with joining the Sea Cadets. Initially, the first year costs $250. That covers uniforms, trainings and drills for the year. Each additional year in the program costs $150. Summer trainings are available at an additional cost depending on the type and duration. These additional trainings might include something like National Flight Academy Recruit Training, Petty Officer Leadership Training, medical courses or field operations to name a few. Some of these summer trainings may also include additional travel costs.
Cadets are required to attend at least 75% of scheduled training weekends throughout the year. They are also required to maintain at least a C+ academic average in their respective schools.
For any students, parents or potential training volunteers who are interested, arrangements can be made through Commanding Officer Dave Hudzinski for information materials or drill weekend visits.
LTJG Dave Hudzinski Sr NSCC
Commanding Officer Wahoo (SS-238) Division of NE and Central PA