Retired RCMP officer Terry Pakenham (above) and his son Colin Pakenham demonstrate self defense moves during the Jean Minguy Memorial Youth Academy.

Retired RCMP officer Terry Pakenham (above) and his son Colin Pakenham demonstrate self defense moves during the Jean Minguy Memorial Youth Academy.

Police academy generates memories

Morning Star reporter relives Jean Minguy Memorial Youth Academy experience

It was five o’clock in the morning, I’d woken up at the same time the previous three mornings and I could only think one thing, “this sucks.”

At the same time I was ready to wake up and was looking forward to the day ahead.

Hard work, new skills, and a serious lack of sleep. That’s the gist of what’s involved for participants in the Jean Minguy Memorial Youth Academy.

It’s been six years since I attended the youth police academy during my graduating year at high school. The instructors and the curriculum may have been tweaked over the years, but the values learned remain the same.

In 2005, Jean Minguy, a popular Vernon RCMP officer, drowned in Okanagan Lake while on duty. The following year — the year I attended — was the first time  the academy at the Vernon Army Camp was officially named after him.

Six years later, Minguy’s youngest son Colin and nearly 50 others are going through the same experiences I did.

And the general mind-set among the students hasn’t changed a whole lot.

“The presentations really give you a good insight,” said Madison Sherry, one of the academy attendees.

“The thing I don’t like is waking up early and having really long days, but personally I think it’s worth it.”

From the early-morning workouts to the hours spent in the class room or the serious lack of sleep at night, it was all there for a reason.

The academy, which wrapped up with a graduation ceremony Saturday, gives attendees an insight into what it’s like training to become a member of the RCMP, which for many is the eventual goal.

“I like how they keep the streets safe and I think it’s cool how they solve cases and how they solve a case just by gathering evidence, it’s really fascinating,” said Sherry.

Sherry has been set on becoming a police officer since she was in Grade 6.

But for those attending who may choose not to pursue a career in the RCMP, like myself, there is still something to be taken from the experience.

“I’m sure a lot of the people here will take what they learn here and use it somewhere in their lives,” said Bradley Yasinski, the course senior and drill leader.

Yasinski doesn’t plan on joining the RCMP anytime soon but he knows a career with the police force isn’t totally out of the question.

“I would like to get into military and maybe one day eventually get into the RCMP,” said Yasinski.

“Possibly some day down the road.”

Academy students learn everything from self defence to investigative procedures to drill techniques, but above all they learn about discipline, conditioning and teamwork.

“We still haven’t heard the click yet but we’re really close,” said drill sergeant Mitch Steck, Wednesday.

“They’re a good bunch of kids and they’re grasping everything really well.”

Whether or not students pursue a career in the RCMP, there are plenty of things learned at the Jean Minguy Memorial Academy, and students will take those lessons into wherever their lives lead them.

I know I have.