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The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadet Program transforms youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders. CAP accomplishes its Congressionally-mandated Cadet Program (Title 36, U.S.C. § 40302) through a curriculum of leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character. The program follows a military model and emphasizes Air Force traditions and values. Today’s cadets are tomorrow’s aerospace leaders.
Cadets in the Civil Air Patrol can expect a rigorous program of self-study and applied leadership opportunities, regular classes and projects on aviation and aerospace, a character development program that focuses on living CAP’s core values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect, as well as a focus on a drug-free lifestyle, and a fitness program that focuses on developing life-long fitness habits.
Key Benefits of the Cadet Program
An Opportunity to Lead. CAP develops leadership skills in cadets by giving them real opportunities to lead. This includes planning events, making decisions, and teaching and mentoring junior-ranking cadets. This “leadership laboratory” is provided under the supervision of qualified adult mentors and commanders.
Challenge. CAP challenges youth. It might be the physical challenge of conquering an obstacle course, an academic challenge to master aerospace and leadership concepts, a moral challenge to live the Core Values, or a personal challenge to know oneself better and gain self-confidence.
Wearing the uniform of the United States Air Force. Cadets have the privilege of wearing an Air Force-style uniform with distinct CAP insignia, which helps to promote teamwork and high standards of personal conduct.
Fun. CAP can be a source of lifelong friends and some of the best experiences of a cadet’s adolescence. It’s hands-on, rewarding, and exciting. Many cadets go on to become adult members of the program, hoping to curate the cadet experience for the next generation.
Typical Cadet Activities
Cadets participate in a wide variety of activities during their cadet career, but it all starts with the weekly squadron meetings. At weekly meetings, cadets learn how to be a cadet, how to wear the uniform properly, and how to perform precise drill movements as a team. They engage in discussions related to one’s character and living the CAP Core Values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect. They take part in physical fitness training, conduct classroom work on leadership and aerospace education, and more.
Each squadron has activities that it runs every year, ranging from bivouacs (camping trips) to model rocket launches to fundraisers. In addition, cadets are eligible to participate in statewide activities such as the leadership encampment, an intensive week-long 24/7 immersion into cadet life. Cadets are also eligible to train for and participate in CAP Emergency Services operations. Cadets routinely serve as radio operators, ground team members, and mission base staffers. Cadets over the age of 18 can also serve on CAP aircrews.
Cadets who excel in the program are eligible for national and international activities. CAP runs a plethora of week-long summer activities every year, ranging from Space Command and USAF pilot training familiarization courses, to a civil engineering academy, to a civic leadership school in Washington, D.C., to a national emergency services training school. Also, each year the International Air Cadet Exchange sends CAP cadets to Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Japan, and other destinations all over the world to learn about other countries’ cultures and see how air cadet programs operate.
Each year, Mid-Atlantic Region runs several exciting activities for cadets, including two Cadet Leadership Schools, a Powered Flight Academy, an Honor Guard Academy, and a Cadet Competition.