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Memories of the Banff National Army Cadet Camp

October 2021

For thousands of teens who were members of the Canadian Army Cadet Corps in the later half of the 20th Century, the Banff National Army Cadet Camp brings back fond memories of a summer of challenges, accomplishments and friendships.

While there were other army cadet summer camps across the county, the Banff National Army Cadet Camp was specially designated as a reward for senior cadets, for all their hard work and dedication to the cadet program. Any cadets attending the camp were selected on the basis of their high achievements within their home cadet corps. They were considered amongst the best cadets in Canada.

Opened in Banff National Park in 1948, just north of the Town of Banff, Alberta, the camp provided an intensive and interesting course programme, entitled “Leadership and Challenge.” It was designed to challenge the cadets leadership, cooperation and stamina, by using mountains and rivers of the park as the training ground. The senior pipe and drum course was also held at the camp.

Banff National Army Cadet Camp was originally a tented camp, but permanent structures and barracks were added for the summer of 1956.

Summer after summer, year after year, for the next five decades, cadets from across Canada would attend the camp. Many would go on to careers in the Regular Force or Reserves.

In October 1996, the Banff Bow Valley Task Force Report was released by Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. The report made the recommendation the closure of the Banff National Army Cadet Camp. This was met with opposition from many in the cadet world, including the Cadet Instructors List Officers Association in Virden, Manitoba, who penned an open letter to Copps, stating “The facilities blend into the park. There is no rifle range. There are no rifles. The camp provides just two courses, namely the leadership and challenge course and the senior pipe and drum course…. It is the goal of many… army cadets to attend Banff National Army Cadet Camp. It is the jewel in the army cadet summer training program.” The letter states that cadets also help build and maintain hiking trails under the supervision of wardens.”

Despite attempts to keep the camp open, the Banff National Army Cadet Camp closed after the completion of training in the summer of 1998.

A new site for a cadet camp was selected, approximately 30 miles east of Banff. Today, Rocky Mountain National Army Cadet Camp, carries on the traditions of training the best of the young men and women enrolled in the Army Cadet Corps in Canada.

Former cadets who attended Banff National Army Cadet Camp should check out the Facebook group dedicated to the former camp: Banff National Army Cadet Camp | Facebook.

Sources: Postal History Corner, The majestic Banff & Jasper National Parks | Robbie Morrison’s Photography Blog, Banff: A Rocky Mountain Treasure – Legion Magazine.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/memories-of-the-banff-national-army-cadet-camp/

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