A Visit to Cadet Camp


Alex was asked to come visit Cadet camp on Friday it was very bitter sweet. They had a bit of an R&R day.  They had the 4th annual Highland Games and Alex was asked to be Chieftain of the games! and judged a couple competitions. He judged both the basic and intermediate chanter competitions and we were able to stay until the end of the mini band competition. It is so cool to see the improvement of the cadets at the end of camp, I know we were very impressed with Alex’ playing when he returned last year.

Alex was able to connect with some of his Cadet buddies from last year, this is the best pipes and drums camp in Canada (there is only one other in Ontario) so you have kids from all across Canada and even the UK attending. We even had a whole slew of Cadets come introduce themselves from the other side of the camp (they also offer Leadership and Challenge) as they had heard Alex’ story and wanted to meet him. Like I said this was very bitter sweet for Alex he loved being back at camp even though to hear it from the teenage perspective it is horrible conditions to live under they don’t have Wi-Fi or cell phone service!! To the contrary I found it to be immaculate and gorgeous and the sound of the pipes echoing off the mountains is hauntingly beautiful, I found myself crying often. I know for me it was very difficult watching the duty band play and march knowing that would have been Alex this year. Some of the new cadets had to come shake his hand saying “you realize you are a legend around here, everyone including the staff say so”.

Alex looked at me later in the day with a smile on his face that I must say are very few and far between now a days…. “Mom it’s like a part of me forgot I had just died again, but thank you so much for making this happen”. As you all know Alex is a T7 complete para this mean’s he is completely paralyzed from just below the nipple line down. What this also means is he has no abdominal s and that he cannot feel the bottom of his lungs, you should hear him cough it’s kind of pathetic actually :).

Anyway because of this he can’t sit up on his own without falling and he can’t engage his lungs fully, to a bagpiper this is death he can’t sit up to play his pipes and he can’t take in enough of a breath to fill the bag so playing the bag pipes is next to impossible. This I think was the nail in the coffin for Alex.  He loves his bagpipes more than anything in the world and to not be able to play anywhere close to level he could before is devastating to him. We have been trying to get him to look into lessons or something but he is very angry over the situation.  He loves cadets and his pipes so he can’t imagine quitting but going and being around everyone is so painful he is not sure how to go on.  He is angry about having to do it again. He told me mom I loved my life every part of it and I was doing what I loved and now I can’t and the worst part is I have no explanation for why. I know this is just a stage he has to go through but it is very difficult to watch.

I want to thank Cadets for always keeping the door open to Alex they have been great! I also want to thank RMNACSTC for allowing Alex back to camp, he even received a certificate stating he is welcome back anytime he wants, I know this is something we will do again next year I am sure.




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