|What is the CAP Cadet Program All About?
||In a lot of ways, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadet Program
is a lot like scouting; there are fun things to do, but at the same time, young people
develop their self-confidence and skill set to become better people. As scouting was
established to train wilderness scouts in the skills that they would need to "do a
good turn daily" the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is dedicated to building
"Dynamic Americans and Aerospace Leaders."
|Service in the Civil Air Patrol is completely voluntary,
and all members remain civilians. Any member may drop from the program at any
time. The CAP Cadet Program is a fine introduction to military customs and
courtesies, and many cadets choose to join the military - but they are never under any
obligation to do so. Also, the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program can serve as a
springboard for a service academy appointment, or for an ROTC scholarship.
||In the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, young people age
12-20 may progress in five areas of development. These are Aerospace Education,
Leadership Laboratory, Moral Leadership, Physical Fitness and Activities. CAP Cadets
work the program, and advance in rank as they complete required achievements. As
cadets advance in rank, they assume ever-increasing responsibilities, so that by the time
that they are cadet officers, they are actually running many aspects of the program
There are many differences between the CAP Cadet Program
and scouting. Some of these are:
- The CAP youth program is open to both boys and girls, and
the senior program is open to men and women, age 18+. CAP provides a unique
opportunity for an entire family to participate, regardless of gender.
- While scouting provides a variety of paths for scouts to
advance in terms of merit badge selections, the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program consists of
fixed achievements. CAP Cadets tend to learn the same skills in the same order.
- The Civil Air Patrol is not an independent organization.
Instead, we are a federally chartered non-profit corporation, and the official
Civilian Auxiliary of the United States Air Force. As such, CAP cadets who progress
through the cadet program and earn the Mitchell Award can get a head start should they
choose to join the US military. Currently, Mitchell Awardees enter the Air Force or
Army at the pay grade of E-3, versus normal recruits who enter at E-1 and have to earn to
promotions to E-3.
- In general, scouting tends to be more informal and social.
There's a lot of latitude in how the program is conducted and the appearance of
scouts. While there is a full scout uniform, it is usually acceptable to wear only
parts of the uniform, and mix that up with normal casual attire. (For example, a boy
scout might wear the shirt and sash over jeans.) In the CAP cadet program, we wear
the United States Air Force Uniform, and the uniform regulations are strictly enforced,
from the flight cap, T-Shirt, belt and buckle, shiny shoes - even grooming standards
(haircuts!) are strictly enforced.
- Scouting places emphasis on individual service (good deeds)
and community service. The CAP cadet program emphasizes doing what's right as an
individual through our Moral Leadership program, and community service too. But in
addition to that, as the Civilian Auxiliary of the USAF, the CAP is often called upon to
assist the Air Force in performing inland search, emergency services and disaster
- Scouting has a single uniform. In the CAP cadet
program, the Air Force "blues" style uniform is the basic uniform. Most
cadets also have a full set of BDUs (the camouflage uniform worn by the US military) to
wear when performing our missions. Some cadets also have semi-formal uniforms for
military balls, flight suits (if they are learning to fly) and jump suits. And there
are regulations on exactly how you can (and can't) wear each of these.
- The ultimate achievement for a Boy Scout is to become an
Eagle Scout. Girl Scouts have the Gold and Silver Awards. In the CAP Cadet
Program, the ultimate achievement is to earn the Carl A. Spaatz award. Spaatz Award
recipients, called "Spaatz Cadets" formally (or "Spaatzen" informally)
are promoted to the grade of Cadet Colonel and wear the cadet grade insignia of three
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