The Cayman Islands Cadent Corps has been forced to introduce a waiting list for youngsters wanting to join the youth organisation, as increasing popularity stretches its resources thin.
Corps Commandant Bobeth Daley-O’Garro told a recent Finance Committee meeting there are now over 30 kids on the waiting list, with the figure expected to rise to over 50 by September. She said the corps needs new facilities, more staff and a proper office space.
‘To take on additional recruits and then move them through without additional personnel … is just not possible,’ she said.
There are over 230 youngsters enrolled in the Corps right now, almost 100 of them from Cayman Brac.
The Corps continues to base itself out of the First Assembly of God Church, near the roundabout by Kings Gym, which it moved to after its former headquarters in George Town was damaged in Hurricane Ivan.
During the Finance Committee meeting, legislators approved $665,416 in funding for the Cadet programme for the coming financial year, up from $536,915 in the previous year.
The increase will allow for the employment of a new staff member for the Corps, bringing its total full-time salaried compliment up to eight. The additional money will also fund the expansion of the Corps’ Band Detachment and Marine Detachment, including the purchase of equipment such as a dinghy’s and kayaks.
Ms Daley-O’Garro said the Corps plans to take on all of the students currently on the waiting list in September. They hope the additional staff member, plus their band of about 30 volunteers will help them accommodate the new recruits initially.
But as they move onto the different training streams offered by the Corps, Ms Daley-O’Garro expects resources will be challenged.
‘If we recruit additional numbers we will require additional classroom space in which to conduct our lessons,’ she said.
During the debate there were calls from the opposition benches for additional funding to be made available for the Cadet programme.
‘The funding … I don’t believe is sufficient to do what is necessary as part of the Cadet Corps,’ said Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush.
‘It’s a good job you’re doing … we encourage the Government to give you sufficient funds to be able to cope with that extra 50 that want to come on board,’ he said.
George Town MLA Lucille Seymour also threw her weight behind the Cadet programme.
‘We need to take this further, particularly for our youth, who seems to have some form of disenchantment,’ said Ms Seymour. ‘We need to make the Cadet Corps the focal point for the training of our young people in nation building.’
With resources strained, the Cadets are keen to secure additional volunteer help, particularly from anyone with past military experience, said Cadet Corps Acting Deputy Commandant, Captain Ricardo Henry Thursday.
‘We want to make the programme as exciting as possible and include as many youngsters as possible,’ he said. ‘To do that we need people on board, and people that have the technical knowledge to teach the subjects we are teaching.’