At the recent Cadet of the Year selections in February, Sergeant Maia Hulin of Doyalson Girls Squadron NSW was named 2014 female Cadet of the Year. With five brothers and sisters in the Air League, the Hulin family is certainly an “Air League family” and we recently spoke to their mother, Mrs Janelle Hulin about what the Air League means to them.
It’s 6.30 on a Sunday morning in September and we have six pairs of shined shoes waiting. One Officer hat and five forage caps. One Officer tie and three Cadet ties. Two sets of Senior Cadet epaulettes and two Junior Cadet shirts. Six sets of authority cards and four lanyards. Three girl’s hair brushed ready to pin up and gel. One mace and gloves. Aircraft models are carefully stowed in shoe boxes. Lunches are made. Snacks packed. Drink bottles filled. GPS is programmed and van loaded. One last uniform check before we head out the driveway. Do we have everything? Yes? On the road again to the NSW Groups Review.
Actually, we do most of the preparation the night before. Chasing down a lost lanyard in the half light of early morning does not improve the collective family humour. Especially with a two hour road trip about to begin.
Each year we make the trip to Sydney from the Central Coast to participate in the Groups Review. Our six children are divided evenly between Toukley Boys and Doyalson Girls Squadrons. Once at the Review my husband Neil and I spend our day trying to catch the highlights of each Squadron’s day. Occasionally we meet up and compare notes. Did you see? Yes, I caught that one, or Oh no! They’ve already marched.
Our Air League adventure began when a friend who’d been in Air League as a boy saw Toukley Squadron at an Australia Day celebration and thought we just might be interested. With a pilot in the family and a half built aeroplane in the garage the answer was Yes! Bryn and Kael joined Toukley squadron straight away at 12 and 14. A few months later we discovered the girls squadron at Doyalson and Maia, then aged 9, was excited to join up. Once the youngest three kids reached their 8th birthdays off they’ve gone to Air League too, keen to follow their older siblings.
As shorts and short sleeved shirts have changed to long pants and shirts with ties we have stuck with Air League. For a while Friday night jobs curtailed attendance at parade night and one teen stepped out of Air League for a year to pursue other interests. In the end they considered Air League worth coming back to.
What is it that makes us want to stay? The kids love it. The involvement and belonging. Corporate goals and the thrill of competing and sometimes winning. Camaraderie and camps. Shared interests and connections with other cadets. It’s something that we do as a family and enjoy the friendships we’ve made Air League wide.
We’ve watched the squadrons both grow both in size and in height. Shy junior cadets now Sergeants with poise and confident leadership skills. Senior Cadets becoming Officers and, can it be, getting married? It’s great to watch cadets join, meet new officers, encouraging each other and to enjoy belonging to a youth organisation that values discipline and learning. For my family Air League is fun, rewarding and worthwhile.