Meet California Cadet Corps Capt. Charles Wallis

Story by U.S. Army Sgt Marla Ogden
California Military Department Public Affairs

Jan. 17, 2024

Los Alamitos, Calif.— In existence for over 100 years, the California Cadet Corps is often called a "leadership laboratory."

As CACC Capt. Charles Wallis puts it, the CACC is a "safe place for youth to fail."

The Cadet Corps places students in leadership positions, and provides them a safe place to fail, he said. Here, they can develop and learn from their failures.

"They are able to extend and reach success, not only in the program in school, but outside of the program to continue on their path, in their future career, and pursuing their goals," he said.

Wallis, commandant at the Rosamond High School Early College Campus, teaches the Cadet Corps curriculum to students, propelling them into leadership roles to develop community builders.

"Just watching cadets succeed is an incredible experience," he said. "Letting them assume roles of leadership is one of the distinct things about CACC compared to other courses and classes in our education program."

"The goal is for us as adults is to move out of the way and allow the cadets to have that leadership development," he added. "Even if that means they might fail at some things, but we step back and let them succeed."

For the cadre and instructors, Wallis said it's exciting to witness new cadets hone the curriculum.

"When we have a youngster, a new cadet, and as they progress through the program and get promotions, their first promotion is where they put on that first Cadet rank, it's amazing to watch their excitement," he said. "We've had cadets in tears because it's a big moment and significant moment for them."

Wallis shared that during the program, cadets are encouraged to explore different routes that interest them.

"They get to meet a lot of guest speakers from the local community - business leaders, community leaders - that come in and talk about their experience; and the cadets and get to connect with them and get a taste of what those career fields might be like," he explained.

While many cadets enter the program during high school, some cadets enter as early as middle or elementary school.

"In all, it's amazing to watch their development and be part of it," he said.