By Lars Dalseide | October 5 2012 13:34

Sea Cadets offer teens the chance to experience real-life Naval situations — even a few days training with the Navy SEALS

U.S. Navy Sea Cadets touring the National Firearms Museum

Fairfax, Virginia - Back in the early 1960s, the Navy was looking for a few good men. Taking their cue from the Boy Scouts of America, they started a youth program focused on those with a focus on the sea ... the Sea Cadets. Ever since that day it's been full speed ahead with promising results.

"About 80% of the those who join the Sea Cadets will go into the military," explained Commanding Officer Lt. Michael J. Treacy — an NRA member since age 11. "They enlist, enroll in ROTC or attend a military college. Today, for example, 12% of those attending the Naval Academy are former Sea Cadets."

To celebrate their 50th Anniversary, the John T. Dempster Jr. Division of the Sea Cadets were touring the sites of the Washington, DC Metro area. Monuments, museums, the Capitol Building and the National Rifle Association's headquarters. There was even talk of a day at the Naval U.S. Navy Sea Cadet inspecting exhibits at the NRA Museum in Fairfax, Viringia Academy in Annapolis. All part of what they offer those who take part in their organization.

Open to those 11-17, Sea Cadets are divided into two groups. 11 to 13 years old are League Cadets and those 14 to 18 are Sea Cadets. No matter what the age, each potential Cadet is required to meet minimum standards physically or academically.

"This organization is probably the most military oriented youth groups out there," said Treacy. "You have to achieve certain standards to get in and is you slip, well, there are consequences."

Consequences can be severe. While they aren't quick to throw anyone out, there is still a piper to pay. Extra physical activities, restriction from events and extra course work to name a few. But the extra work is worth the extra benefits.

One of the benefits was the behind the scenes tour of the NRA and the National Firearms Museum. In addition to the standard tour, they went through the museum's firearm lab, inspected a few guns and ate pizza in the cafe. That's when I asked if Sea Cadets was like the Boy Scouts.

"I'd say it's the Boy Scouts on steroids.

Naval Sea Cadets inside the NRA Museum firearms lab

"Our program puts people in real situations. We had a sixteen year-old who was interested in Special Forces, so we sent him down to Little Creek to spend time with a Master Chief and other Cadets. They learned from a real, serving Navy SEAL ... how to dive, physical requirements, everything.

"We've sent those interested in the law to shadow JAG lawyers, those interested in aviation to Ground School in Norfolk, lots of things. Cadets have spent a few days on an aircraft carrier, on battleships, serving right along side the sailors.

He then told me the tale of his daughter. When 16 years old, she was interested in the medial field. Thanks to the Sea Cadets, she flew out to San Diego for medical training. While there, she learned a number of things including how to stitch up a wound.

"Later that day, a sailor came in with a wound," Treacy beamed. "The doctor asked the sailor if she could apply the sutures. He asked if she was qualified, the doctor said yes, and she sutured him up. When she got back, she couldn't stop talking about being a Navy nurse. Few years later she did that after graduating from Georgetown. Got there on scholarship too ... all because of the Sea Cadets."

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