Sea Cadet training comes to Wisconsin
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
In late July, Daniel Struemke is still looking for a summer job.
But the Osceola, Wis., teenager is taking big steps toward a lifelong career. Struemke, 16, is one of 12 members of the new Osceola chapter of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
"You don't have to, but I want to be in the military after this," Struemke said. "It's a big boost (toward your Navy entry rank)."
Struemke is one of more than 10,000 young Americans participating in 350 Sea Cadet programs around the country. The program's aim is to introduce teenagers to Navy life and to teach them leadership, mental toughness and self-discipline.
"It's been around for a while, but not too many people know about it," said Lori Gorecki, a parent who helped start the program in Osceola in December.
Four Minnesota towns — Blaine, Cambridge, Duluth and the Twin Cities (based at Fort Snelling) — have Sea Cadet chapters, but the Osceola program is the first in western Wisconsin.
"It's a lot of discipline," said Brad Struemke, Daniel's father. "On top of the training, the kids do some community service as well. We've gotten a lot of good feedback from the community because of that."
Daniel Struemke was one of four Osceola Sea Cadets handing out brochures and representing the program at the Wannigan Days parade in Taylors Falls, Minn., on Saturday, July 21.
The Sea Cadets train locally once a month, participating in such activities as reading topographical maps, marching and ambushing.
sessions are typically six hours during the day and are run by the Sea Cadets themselves, with some pointers from a commanding officer.
"It's a lot of fun," Sea Cadet Andrew Marek said. "We get some classroom time, some outdoors training, but it's a variety of things — whatever we can think of that'll be useful to us in the military."
Marek, who is 15, said the highlight of the program has been the nine-day training session at the Naval Station Great Lakes north of Chicago.
"We got to train with real recruits," Daniel Struemke said. "Sometimes we even did better than them."
The summer "boot camp," as Marek called it, is a test to see if they can apply what they've learned toward real military training.
"For career exploration," Gorecki said. "I think this is the best program for kids I've ever seen. Seeing some of the military members watch these kids, they chuckle. They can't believe they want to do this stuff for fun."