There will be no Sunset Ceremony at the end of the Vernon Army Camp Summer Training Centre’s summer season in 2020. All activities at the camp have been cancelled because of COVID-19. (Wayne Emde - photo)

COVID-19: Vernon Army Camp summer activities cancelled

Camp has been in use every summer since after the end of Second World War

The familiar sight of young adults living and training at the Vernon Army Camp over the summer months will be missing in 2020.

Brig.-Gen. Dave Cochrane announced Wednesday, April 15, he had made the difficult decision to cancel all summer activities countrywide related to Cadets and the Junior Canadian Ranger (JCR) program.

“The safety and security of all who participate in all of our programs is always one of my top priorities, combined with our commitment to developing in youth the attributes of good citizenship and leadership,” Brig.-Gen. Cochrane said. “It was clear to me that Canada’s Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers program could not in good faith carry on with our planned summer activities while the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces is gearing up to assist Canadians in the face of COVID-19 and any other challenges they may face.”

The cancellation is in effect until Aug. 31, 2020. Every Cadet and JCR member will have their training qualifications for the current training year marked as completed.

“This decision ensures the safety and security of everyone who participates in our programs and ensures the cadet program, like the Canadian Armed Forces, does not become a vector to spread COVID-19,” said Brig.-Gen. Cochrane, who said the decision to cancel was not an easy one, nor was it made in isolation.

“I have consulted far and wide to make sure I’m taking a measured response to the challenges that lie before us. In order to rise to that challenge, it will require cadets, volunteers and key stakeholders to come together to not only bounce back but improve and enhance the Cadet and JCR programs for the next generation of young Canadians when training is forecasted to resume in September 2020.”

According to the Vernon Cadet Museum, talk of forming a local cadet corps in Vernon was mentioned as early as 1908 with the commanding officer of the Okanagan Mounted Rifles, Maj. H.A. Perry, giving drill lessons to a few public school students.

In 1912, a cadet corps was established with about 40 boys enrolled and was officially known as No. 368, the 30th British Columbia Horse Cadets.

The Vernon Military Camp was shut down from 1946 to the spring of 1949, when it reopened as an army cadet camp in July 1949, just two years after the camp had been stood down as a Second World War Canadian Army Basic Infantry Training Centre and support camp for the Coldstream Ranch Battle Drill School.

The camp has operated every summer since until this year.

READ MORE: Rare footage of Vernon Army Camp, 1956, uncovered

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