Over 25,000 young people are enrolled in Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program, learning how to become our new generation of American leaders through their interest in aviation. Cadets develop strong leadership skills, and learn how to focus on success, discipline themselves to achieve worthwhile goals, resist adverse peer pressure, and serve as a role model to others.
Great Opportunities Due to CAP’s association with the United States Air Force, Civil Air Patrol cadets have opportunities to participate in activities which many other young people only dream about. These include: Ready for a Cadet Orientation Flight Eligibility to fly in CAP and military aircraft as part of prescribed activities Attendance at emergency services, leadership, and flight encampments Receipt of promotions in grade and stature as they learn about aerospace education, moral and command leadership; organizational duties in a wide variety of specialties, and other important character-building traits.
Young men and women who are American citizens or aliens “lawfully admitted for permanent residency” in the United States and meeting certain other qualifications may become Civil Air Patrol cadets upon reaching 12 years of age. The maximum age to become a cadet member is 18. Persons who are 18 years of age and older may become senior (adult) members.
Programs and Activities
Cadets take part in a number of programs and special activities which help develop their knowledge, skills and positive attitudes about air and space operations. They learn: Coordination, discipline and teamwork through leadership study and activities and by taking part in military drill and courtesies Many aspects of aviation and aerospace education through study of formal text, classroom training during meetings and special activities, and cadet orientation flights This program provides a strong background on many aspects of flight, from its history, through aircraft operations, to careers in aviation and aerospace To become or remain physically fit through a physical training program and various activities To examine the facets and pressures of everyday life through regular moral leadership discussions and programs Emergency services response activities, including mission base, search and rescue, and disaster relief efforts Program assistance Cadets are assigned to squadrons staffed by senior members who guide and assist them through the program. Young people work through a series of 16 achievements. As they progress, they earn increased grade, ribbons, and other recognition. They also become eligible for nationally sponsored special activities and may compete for academic scholarships.
Popular activities include the cadet orientation flight program, which may include flights aboard military airplanes in addition to Civil Air Patrol aircraft. Scholarships, which cover flight training through the solo qualification stage, are available to advanced cadets. Additional activities include cadet summer encampments at nearly 75 U.S. military bases and a Cadet Officer School. There also are familiarization courses at Air Education and Training Command bases, pararescue and survival training, and cadet competitions. The much sought-after activity for advanced cadets is the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Each summer, some 120 cadets and adult escorts travel to one of some 20 foreign countries. In return, cadets from foreign lands visit the United States as guests of Civil Air Patrol and the United States Air Force. South Dakota wing has sent cadets to Australia, England and Turkey. Such trips promote good will and understanding among world youth who share a common interest in aviation.
Joint Dakota Encampment
The purpose of the cadet encampment is for cadets to develop leadership skills, investigate the aerospace sciences and related careers, commit to a habit of regular exercise, and solidify their moral character. The vision for the cadet encampment is “an immersion into the full challenges and opportunities of cadet life.” Encampment presents the five key traits of cadet life – the uniform, aerospace themes, opportunities to lead, challenge, and fun – in an intensive environment that moves cadets beyond their normal comfort zones for personal growth. Through activities such as rappelling, obstacle courses, firearms training, and the like, encampments encourage safe, calculated risk-taking in a safe environment. To develop their resilience, cadets may encounter momentary setbacks toward their personal and team goals during the carefully designed activities. Adult guidance and encouragement from fellow cadets ensures a supportive environment. Encampment showcases the Cadet Program’s regimented, military-like training model in a positive, age-appropriate manner consistent with CAP and Air Force traditions. Encampments operate at a higher level of intensity in respect to the military aspects of cadet life than virtually any other cadet activity, short of some of the premiere NCSAs. The strictness, rigor, sense of urgency, and overall expectations of military bearing will be markedly more challenging at encampment – yet still age-appropriate – compared with a weekly squadron meeting or Saturday field exercise. Overall, encampments should be fun, in part because they challenge cadets and enable them to earn a sense of accomplishment.