The Rotorua District Cadet Unit is desperately calling for adults to volunteer to become officers to make sure they can continue their work.

Unit commander Major Nick Breene said officers helped run the unit day-to-day and lead and guide cadets.

With roughly 28 cadets on the books, a full team of officers would be five people. There are only two.

And at 62, Breene wants to make sure more officers are trained so the cadet unit can continue after he eventually retires.

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Breene said an officer needed to be someone with a passion for youth.

"[It needs to be] a person with good leadership skills, outdoors knowledge like tramping, hunting and fishing, somebody who can be a natural teacher.

"We are teaching young people life skills."

(From left) Shane Mackay, Ethan Mackay , 14, and Major Nick Breen. Photo / Ben Fraser
(From left) Shane Mackay, Ethan Mackay , 14, and Major Nick Breen. Photo / Ben Fraser

In order to become an officer anyone interested needed to be police and defence force vetted, do a probationary period to prove they are interested, do courses and be interviewed by a panel locally and nationally.

"It takes about 12 months from start to finish, then they do a 12-month probationary period."

But Breene said it was worth it.

"In my personal experience, I had a young chap many years ago, he said to me I'd shown him a different way of life to his family. He decided to go a different way. He was my success story.

"I have a lot of information I can pass on to young people. If you treat them with dignity and respect they'll seek your information and learn a lot of life skills," he said.

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"If we can save one potential bad egg and turn them into a good citizen that's all my goal is."

Shane Mackay, who is on the unit's committee and whose son is in the unit, says they are looking for someone who wanted to help kids.

"They go there to learn skills. It's not necessarily about skills to join the army or navy, these skills are transferable."

Mackay said when cadets went fundraising or parading they had to have an officer with them, not a parent, so they were vital.

The unit meets every Tuesday and is open to people between 13 and 18. They teach everything from bush and survival skills, first aid and weather reading skills to physical training, first aid and personal presentation.

To find out more visit www.cadetforces.org.nz.