IMAGINE looking after 40 to 45 teenagers, week in week out.
Then multiply that by 16 years, of which 12 have been as the commanding officer of cadets at Training Ship Shoalhaven, based at HMAS Albatross.
That’s what Lieutenant John Huisman has done, with his outstanding volunteer service in the leadership and mentoring of navy cadets being recognised with a Royal Australian Navy commendation.
The commendation from acting Commander Australian Fleet Commodore Jonathon Mead said over the last decade Lt Huisman had demonstrated superior commitment by instilling cadets with the necessary attributes expected of conscientious and industrious members of the local community.
Lt Huisman, who shared his honour with local cadets at Training Ship Shoalhaven on Saturday, said he was “honoured and surprised” at being recognised.
“This was a total surprise,” he said.
“You don’t do these sorts of things for recognition but it is nice when it happens.”
He said it was extremely gratifying to see the change the cadets’ program instilled in children.
“You see kids come in, maybe a bit shy and bashful, a bit uncertain of themselves, but given a little bit of responsibility, like taking a squad, can build their confidence and wellbeing,” he said.
Over the years he has seen a number of his cadets progress into the defence force.
“It’s great to go to HMAS Creswell and watch young officers pass out knowing they started with you at cadets,” he said.
“It is quite emotional.”
His own son has gone through the program and is now a pilot at Albatross.
Youngsters can join cadets from the age of 12-and-a-half and can remain as part of the program until age 20.
The cadets meet every Saturday from 8.45 to 4pm and undertake a number of activities to provide them with an introduction to a possible life in the navy.
“They learn about boat work, ceremony, weapons training drill, and sailboats just to name a few things,” Lt Huisman said.
“They tour the various squadrons at Albatross and occasionally get to fly in helicopters.
“We also visit various other navy bases.
“They also take part in a number of local ceremonies like Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and Vietnam Veterans Day parades.”
If you are interested in taking part in cadets go to www.cadetnet.gov.au or call Lt Huisman on 0418 422 870.