The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program consists of middle and high schoolers that are interested in aerospace, leadership, military discipline, and fitness.
Civil Air Patrol provides unique leadership opportunities exclusive to the cadet program. Weekly meetings at St. Mary’s Composite Squadron are primarily cadet planned, staffed, and executed. Any cadet that shows persistent dedication, discipline, and a desire to learn will have the opportunity to lead their fellow cadets. That leadership experience can range from providing new recruits an introduction to the program, to orchestrating the efforts of hundreds of cadets at activities that span a week or more.
The scope of any leadership project given to a cadet is not only based on ability and prior experience, but a rigorous program of academics. The Learn to Lead textbooks cover a variety of leadership subjects and span everything from an introduction to military discipline to leadership theory, human psychology, and large-scale management. As a cadet demonstrates proficiency in these texts they earn grade: every cadet begins the program as a Cadet Airman Basic, and, with sufficient dedication, a cadet can progress to Cadet Colonel.
Cadets are encouraged to be physically, as well as mentally, fit. Each promotion in the cadet program corresponds to a progressively more challenging fitness test. CAP’s fitness program is based on the Presidential Physical Fitness challenge and requires cadets to perform push-ups, curl-ups, and the sit-and-reach In addition, they run either the mile or the pacer. Waivers are available for cadets who are medically disqualified from single events, or physical training as a whole.
As the world grows increasingly technological, CAP has recognized a need for increased emphasis on cyber security. To this end, CAP as an organization, and St. Mary’s Composite Squadron in particular, have taken to competing in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot challenge. Open to middle and high schoolers from across the United States, CyberPatriot is an introduction to network security. As stated on their website, the competition puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services in a six hour period.
National Cadet Special Activities (NCSA’s)
NCSA’s are week-long schools, academies, and camps that take place every summer. Cadets have the chance to meet their fellow cadets from across the United States. During that week they explore careers in aviation and the U.S. military. NCSA topics include, but are not limited to, flight academies, survival schools, search and rescue training, and leadership colleges.
Civil Air Patrol is the United States’ only participating organization in the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE). CAP cadets who attain the grade of Cadet Captain and are at least 17 years old may apply to serve as a junior ambassador to one of eighteen countries. For three weeks, cadets stay with host families, explore their host nations, and meet their peers in aviation from across the globe.
Civil Air Patrol awards dozens of scholarships worth thousands of dollars to its cadets every year. Scholarships for both flight and academics are available through CAP, and CAP-exclusive scholarships are offered by several third-parties.