A Hay River cadet is returning from a two-week course with a friends from around the world and a newfound appreciation for travelling.

“It’s been really good,” said Matteo Lafferty the night before flying home. “I really enjoyed going to Whitehorse.”

Lafferty was one of a half dozen Hay Riverites that flew down to Whitehorse for the annual two-week general training course.

Cadet Mateo Lafferty participates in the summer biathlon at the Whitehorse Cadet Training Centre on July 17. Photo courtesy of cadets

Thirteen-year-old Matteo Lafferty joined the cadets when he was 12-years old because his uncle and father had both been in the organization when they were younger.

“My dad told me lots of stories about how he loved it, so I decided to join,” he said.

The cadets were expected to be up and ready to drill at 6 a.m. six days a week, with Sundays to rest.

Over the course of two weeks, Lafferty and his fellow members got to practise a range of exercises including canoeing, hiking, drill formations and shooting.

“The reason why they do a general training program is to give them a taste of the things that you can do in cadets,” said Captain Glenn Arksey, platoon commander for 7 Platoon which Lafferty was assigned to.

Lafferty is an avid biathlete who competes at home and has been hunting with his dad since he was 9-years old.

Unlike the guns he is used to back home, Lafferty was using an air rifle. Although he is familiar with using a rifle, the two weeks of training made him realize he has some work to do on his accuracy.

“I just want to keep practising and get better at it,” he said.

Arksey admitted that Lafferty’s shooting needed a bit of work, but he commended the youngster on his perseverance.

“When Matteo came to the camp, he was very eager to learn and always had a smile on his face,” said Arksey. “It’s very pleasant to have someone come in and not be homesick right away.”

Arksey added that Lafferty never fell behind in drills and he would be one of the first one out of the barracks in the morning.

“He was always where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be,” he said.

One of the highlights of the trip for Lafferty was getting to camp out for a night.

“Me and my fellow cadets went camping for one night. I really enjoyed that,” he said.

He also made friends with cadets from across Canada and even the U.K. He said they are planning to stay in touch online after they leave Whitehorse.

“I miss home, but I’ll miss here too,” he said.