Sunday, September 9, 2012

Youth with a Mission

Can you believe how quickly this summer has flown by?  Auntie can't.  It seems like just yesterday I was blowing up pool toys, setting out lawn furniture and stringing up my Tiki lamps!

With the end of summer comes the beginning of a new school year for the youngins.  One by one and in groups, they  scampered by my house on Tuesday morning en route to their first day of school.

The little ones, accompanied by their smiling parents, were all kitted out with shiny new backpacks and unscuffed shoes. The older ones slunked by, either alone, or in groups of friends.  This back to school parade gave Auntie a chance to contemplate the younger generation...
If you believe everything you read, today's youngsters are nothing but a bunch of marauding, hoodie wearing bandits, lazy as sloths except for the energy they can drum up to check their Facebook, text their friends, and lift Cheetos and cola to their insatiable mouths.

Auntie knows better than that.  Thanks to nieces and neighbours, this summer Auntie attended two eye-opening events for youth that were very different from each other but at the same time, both offered opportunities to lay the groundwork for a very optimistic future.
Commandant Mark Watson

Not far from the airport in Ottawa, down a long, long road past an expansive lawn with big, noisy jets flying overhead is Hangar 11. Hangar 11 is home to the 742 National Capital Air Cadet Squadron, the largest Air Cadet Squadron in Canada.  It's also where my brave alpha niece, Nora, spends her spare time and energy.

The Air Cadet motto is "Our Youth, Our Pride," and after witnessing their year-end 49th Annual Review, I think they deserve their distinguished title!
Instead of floating around all summer like dandelion seeds, these youngsters from 12-19 years old learn survival skills, travel the world, participate in flight activities and win scholarships.  Some of the keeners go on to earn pilot's licences but in the meantime, they all seem to share the unique feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves.  What could be a better flight path into adulthood than an attitude of humility, discipline and purpose?

The bake table was a sell out by night's end
I'm sure we'll be seeing many of these Cadets volunteering their time to help others or at the controls of an aircraft.  Be sure to wave or salute the next time you see one flying overhead.

Not long after my memorable visit to Hangar 11, Auntie attended another notable event for local youth.  This time it was the Glebe Collegiate's annual musical extravaganza coincidentally, with a military theme, Battles and Victories. Lucky for Auntie it was taking place right down the street from our summer shack in Ottawa.

A peek inside the fertile mind of the high school student
The neighbourhood buzz was that the event was a sell out and I think the buzz was correct!  The line to get into the auditorium snaked up and down the hallways for half a kilometre so Auntie had a good chance to put her snooping eye to work observing the inner workings of the school.

The bulletin boards and hallways were festooned with class projects and posters promoting the Student Council elections.  Many of the performers were milling around, excitedly anticipating their eminent big moment on stage.

A basketball machine. Michael Jordan, watch out!
The fund raising bake table near the auditorium entrance was doing a booming business and the cupcakes with bright blue icing were quite popular judging by the people passing us with blue lips, teeth and tongues.

At long last the line flowed towards the auditorium and once we found our seats we settled in for a memorable evening of entertainment.

It was a bit like watching an early episode of the popular programme, Glee without the students' backstabbing politics and angst ridden, hormone driven histrionics.

One after another, quartets, choirs, and orchestras performed, each act followed by cheers, photo flashes and applause from the crowd.

Everyone was playing and singing his or her heart out and then, "poof."  The whole thing seemed to be over as soon as it started.

We all wandered home in the warm summer night, our hearts infused with song.

Even though both events couldn't have been more different, they both left me filled with renewed hope and optimism for our younger generation. 

Thank goodness for nieces and neighbours who invite Auntie to these fabulous events!

I can hardly wait until next year!

Timothy Austen, Fearless Students' Council President.  See you next year Auntie!