NEWS

Odin Camus steers HMCS Montreal around Halifax Harbour

07/11/2015 09:47 EDT | Updated 07/11/2016 05:59 EDT
Odin Camus is too young to drive a car, but the navy let the 13-year-old steer HMCS Montreal around Halifax Harbour on Friday night. 

"They said I was going to be captain for the day and I was absolutely shocked because it was possibly the greatest moment of my life." Camus said aboard the warship.

The navy contacted the Peterborough, Ont. teen in March after hearing no one RSVP'd to his 13th birthday party.

Camus has Asperger's Syndome, a form of autism, and struggles with bullying at home. 

After his mom went online — inviting anyone who wanted to show up to the party at a local bowling alley, the hashtag #odinbirthday soon went viral. Dozens of well-wishing strangers showed up, and some 11,000 others sent birthday messages from around the world.

Standing at five feet, eleven inches, and wearing his own uniform, Camus blended in with the rest of the crew.

He says he has wanted to join the navy since he was two years old. 

"I hope I get to be captain of a ship one day and it would be absolutely incredible if I could be captain of [HMCS Montreal]," he said. 

His time aboard the ship on Friday saw his quick promotion from seaman to captain, in a brief and informal ceremony on the deck.

Camus manoeuvered the vessel, oversaw a man over-board exercise.

Crew impressed

Camus's mother said he will be talking about his time aboard HMCS Montreal for a long time.

"He said he wants to be a stowaway and they go to open sea next week," said Melissa Camus. "So it might be a little bit of a trick to get him on a plane to go home." 

She said she was happy to see her son come out of his shell aboard the vessel.

"Odin has been put outside his comfort zone, in that little box that he was comfortable in, and as a mom it's been amazing to see him thrive outside it," she said. 

The crew on board HMCS Montreal were impressed too.

"Anyone that has that kind of passion, especially at such a young age, would be an asset to the navy and I'd love to see him join." said Lt.-Cmdr. Nancy Setchell.

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