Academy reinforces desire to join RCMP

Youth academy cadets are up at 5:30 a.m. each day for physical training.

Youth academy cadets are up at 5:30 a.m. each day for physical training.

Seven Mission high school students got a glimpse of what it takes to join the national police force last month during spring break.

Every year students who are interested in law enforcement and want to challenge themselves can apply for the RCMP Youth Academy in Chilliwack, said Const. Carl Wellwood, one of the group’s mentors.

The academy gives participants a chance to see what kind of conditioning they would go through if they were accepted into depot, the RCMP training academy in Regina. Students also earn work experience credits towards graduation during the one-week session.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve done, but also the most rewarding,” said Cody Fillion, a Grade 12 student at Hatzic Secondary School. “It takes a hardworking, committed person to be part of the RCMP.”

For Fillion, the toughest part about the week was waking up at 5:30 each morning for physical training, but the experience convinced him to keep pursuing a career in policing.

Fillion enjoyed listening to guest speakers and learned there are many sections in the RCMP from which to choose.

“Topics such as self defense, handcuffing techniques, physical training and drills are all part of the experience,” said Wellwood. “They then put their knowledge into practice in several reality-based scenarios a police officer might encounter, such as impaired driving, break and enter, and domestic violence investigations.”

Students also learn about criminal law and basic investigation techniques in classrooms and hear guest lecturers from the Emergency Response Team, police dog services, air services and forensics.

There are also team building exercises and students are in their dorm with the lights out at 10:30 p.m.

“I made numerous friends and the whole group of cadets all came together well at the end of the academy,” said Fillion.

The youth academy has been running for more than 10 years, garnering critical acclaim from participants, noted Wellwood, adding students are selected for the program in the fall after they submit an application form and resume and complete an interview with a youth liaison officer.

“It’s very rewarding to see the transformation that occurs each year from when a group of individual students is dropped off by their parents to when a troop of cadets graduate eight days later.”