In the 1950’s the Navy ordered that a youth program for girls and boys, ages 10 to 17, be established. The responsibility for funding much of the program was assigned to the local Councils in the Navy League of the United States. The Daytona Beach Area Council Sea Cadet unit is named the Daytona Division and funding it has become the largest single line item in the Council’s annual budget. Although the main purpose of the program is not recruiting, the Navy is interested in how many of the graduating high school cadets either enlist in the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard or are accepted into ROTC or one of the service academies.
The principal benefit of the program for a cadet is the learning, experiencing and application of life-skills such as respect, discipline, patriotism, good citizenship, leadership and the recognition of the value of good grades. Teachers often admit that they can identify the cadets in the classroom when responses like “yes ma’am” or “no sir” are what they hear.
The Division has grown to almost forty cadets. The population continuously fluctuates as some enrolled might decide it is not what they imagined or as they grow older become engaged with conflicting activities in other organizations and sports. However, many do spend several years in the program. A high school junior will soon be promoted to Chief (the highest rate in the program). Having one cadet achieve this level is unusual and this cadet will be the Daytona Division’s third.
Since the cadets are in a major growth period in their lives, keeping them in uniforms is not only difficult but time consuming and costly. Maintaining comfortable and smart looking clothing is a task for every family with children. Now, consider such an undertaking with forty youngsters needing three different uniforms – dress whites, NWU’s and BDU’s – which include everything from hats to belts, to shoes and boots. Add to the almost annual exchanging for larger uniforms the switching and changing of name tags, rates, insignias, service ribbons, etc. as they grow and advance through the rates.
In addition to uniform costs, the unit is constantly adding, maintaining or replacing things which could range from Color Guard gear, to training supplies to camping gear to office materials and occasionally to equipment.
Cadets can advance in rate (patterned after the Navy) through mandatory on-line courses and tests and by attending summer trainings (and sometimes winter training requiring blue uniforms) offered at a variety of military and civilian locations. A few of the training opportunities are in Petty Officer Leadership, Seabees, Diving, Aircraft, Master-at-Arms, Culinary, Color Guard, Religion, Field Ops. Small Boat Handling and Marksmanship. While the costs are very reasonable, parents are responsible for transportation to and from the training sites. Attending graduation exercises is always a special occasion for parents and guardians.
When cadet families cannot afford all of the annual registration and training fees, some “scholarship money”, is provided when it is available. At times donors in the community and Navy League members have contributed to this fund.
Information on enrolling in the Sea Cadets can be obtained from Navy League members and Ensign Charles Haycock, USNSCC – Daytona Division Administrative Officer (386) 846 1713.