Press Releases

Navy League Cadets in Parksville, BC

Oct 6, 2015 - Keeping Kid Afloat with Community Support

Oceanside children are thrilled with finally going to sea.

This summer, when Biostrat Canada Incorporated’s CEO Pam Smyth heard that local Parksville Navy Cadets, ages 9 to 12, didn’t have a boat, she said, “I can relate. At age 11, I was in cadets. WW2 veterans took us out in their boats. Once we hit rough waters. I felt sick, but survived.  Life isn’t always easy,” Smyth said, “and being a part of this youth group prepared me for adulthood.  Some school friends were getting into drugs. It was my support sanctuary that gave me the strength to say no.  I lost so-called friends, but gained new ones. Taking first aide and other courses showed me how to overcome challenges, care for others, and appreciate something larger than myself.” 

Smyth then entered the Canadian Forces, received a Queen’s Commission, and later founded BCI, supplying products to aestheticians, medical spas and laser clinics since 1994.

This summer, Smyth lost her mother to a stroke. The next day, she ran into Shannon Pennington.

“It was fate,” Smyth said. “We formerly served in the army together. I hadn’t seen her over 20 years.”

Smyth’s company previously purchased a cruise package for 12 passengers aboard Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Filed Station’s RV Chetlo. Originally planning to show clients Baynes Sound, she switched course after reuniting with Pennington.

“I heard she was involved with youngsters. Children love to explore. Envisioning them at sea brought tremendous cheer after just losing my mom“.

Pennington, presently the Commanding Officer of Parksville’s Admiral Yanow Navy League Cadet Corp of Canada said, “NLCC is 100% volunteer. Though kids receive uniforms, training and get-away-weekends, we aren’t funded by the Department of National Defense. Its donation’s that keep us afloat.”

Along with no boat, the Oceanside youth group also lacks a permanent home. Meeting in different places and raising her own family, Pennington packs around training materials and a heavy naval bell so enrolled youngsters gain a sense of structure, pride, and tradition.  Having fun is also crucial. As such, she modern day incorporates lip syncing and dancing moves, alongside training aimed at enhancing social, leadership, teamwork and effective communication skills.

“So far, we’ve been meeting in different schools. It would be great to see more trainers and parents involved,” said Pennington, “and a place we can call home.” 

Like Smyth and Pennington, Nanaimo Regional District Director Bill Veenhof is also a Canadian Forces Veteran that currently volunteers in Marine Search and Rescue. Hearing about the plight, he invites other sponsors on deck.

“What businesses may not realize,” said Veenhof, “is that they are eligible to receive tax receipts.” 

“When you’re in organizations that serve others, it’s amazing how people show up just when you need them most as I found while grieving a major loss.” 

“In the end, for kids, it’s all about shaping healthy futures” Smyth said, “and when we give to others, good things tend to arrive in many different forms.