Training cadets during COVID
Training cadets during COVID
23 August 2021
Two years ago, those of us overseeing the Officer Formation program at Eva Burrows College could never have imagined that we would have no residential cadets.
But we have all had to navigate our way through a global pandemic, and life as we know it has changed in the most significant and unexpected ways. For our program, the biggest change has been that we have 14 cadets in training in appointments across the nation.
The formation program for cadet training has been individualised for several years now. While there are obviously many classes and training activities that cadets do in common, we also consider a person’s life experience, previous work and study, and any leadership experience to tailor a program to meet their individual needs.
COVID-19 has offered us an opportunity to go even further as we have sought to find the right formation environments with experienced officer personnel to train and journey with people on the field. No longer ‘on placement’, cadets are appointed to a corps where they remain for most of their training. We have been so grateful to those officers who have agreed to take on a cadet as an apprentice to help prepare them for a life of officership.
While being a cadet-in-appointment is not new, having the entire cohort of cadets dispersed around the nation certainly is. All academic classes and other training sessions are online, so cadets can study from wherever they are appointed. We intended to gather all cadets in Melbourne a couple of times this year, but unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions, along with border closures and quarantine requirements, have made this impossible. We hope that 2022 might allow for this to happen; there are still some areas of learning that we believe happen best in a community of peers.
Some of the benefits that we have identified so far in this new world of training include: people being exposed to a more realistic experience of what ministry life is like, people connecting and applying their classroom learning to their real-life experiences of mission and ministry; they are watching and learning from excellent practitioners with a wealth of wisdom and experience, and they are enjoying a greater level of autonomy over their training experience.
While it can be easy to focus on those we feel we have lost through this pandemic, we can also be encouraged by the incredible stories of people who have adapted and transformed their approach to mission and ministry. In the world of Eva Burrows College and Officer Formation, we want to be part of an innovative and transformative approach to preparing people for a life of service through Officership in The Salvation Army. We will continue to strive for adaptability and relevance in a world of constant change.