Cadets Experience Elegant Dining – Military Style
One of the most interesting events young Cadets have the opportunity to experience is an evening of elegant dining, finely prepared meals, military tradition and Esprit De Corps at the Air Force Officers Mess.
Cadets arrive for the evening dressed in their C-8 Mess Dress Kit comprised of their uniform, white shirt and bow tie.
They are exposed to an elevated social setting where an elevated sense decorum is taught and expected. Prior to dining, the head table and the President of the Mess Committee are formally piped in.
Cadets are taught to be aware of their posture, where to put their hands when not holding utensils and proper placement of table napkins before and after the meal.
Cadets are encouraged and taught to converse in a tactful, kind, responsive and courteous manner. They are forbidden to tell rude or insulting jokes, use foul language or raise controversial subjects.
Cadets are exposed to military messing traditions such as the role of the PMC (President of the Mess Committee), VPMC (Vice President of the Mess Committee), when to enter, when to sit, when to stand and when to leave the table. Reading and writing at the table may not take place without permission.
While these rules certainly educate Cadets on a higher sense of decorum, part way though the meal subtle wit and humour begin to surface with mild “pranks” becoming the entertainment of the evening. Somehow, the name cards of diners and other writing devices with odd messages clandestinely start to surface, in subtle violation of the rules of the Mess. Cadets named in the messages are summarily “tried” for violations by the President of the Mess Committee, requiring mild “punishments” to be meted out. The court process is a demonstration of light-hearted wit and quick thinking, which allow the “accused” to plead their defence.
The “accused” (who is often is convicted in a prompt, light-hearted and unfair trial) must submit and to the rule of “The Court” (The PMC). Sentences can include the requirement to sing silly songs, act out a skit in a different language, the loss of a chair or some other embarrassing sanction.
The humour is friendly, ad lib and very entertaining. Cadets learn confidence by learning it’s OK to laugh at themselves or be the subject of humour from time to time. Eventually the entertainment evolves back into formal dining decorum with the benefit of being able to pleasantly discuss the highlights of the evenings entertainment.
After enjoying the humour and evening dining, cadets retire to the entrance level for a break while the Mess Hall is prepared for the Loyal Toast. After a short break, Cadets return to the Mess Hall in preparation of the Loyal Toast (toasting with grape juice in this case). The Loyal Toast is done in military tradition. Cadets learn the method of passing a decanter in a traditional manner as to not allow the decanter to touch the table until all have their vessels full, and to not touch their vessels until the Loyal Toast has been given. Following the Loyal Toast, a toast is made, separately recognizing the branches of service of each member in attendance. Members belonging to or having served in a specific unit are invited to stand to be recognized while the anthem of their unit is played. At the conclusion of the anthem, all toast to the honour of the unit. This process repeats until all in attendance are recognized for their contribution and service.
Despite the entire event taking place in the Air Force Officers Mess, which includes a full bar on the lower level, Civilians, Cadets, NCO’s and Officers are forbidden to consume alcoholic beverages while in the presence of, or while supervising Cadets, as is the case in all Cadet events.
The Air Force Officers Mess Dinner is yet another example of an amazing experience provided to young Air Cadets, forming an impression that will indelibly remain with them.
Might this event sound like an evening that might interest your youth? If so, please visit our information page for recruiting here.