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Cadet Life


Test Your Limits

As a Cadet in Civil Air Patrol, you'll learn a lot about yourself. Most importantly, you'll learn what you're capable of--and it's more than you think. The entire cadet program is built around a philosophy of pushing beyond your comfort zone mentally, physically, and socially. To succeed, you'll need to think on your feet, take charge, break a sweat, and work seamlessly as a member of a team--every day. If you want those attributes to become second-nature, come test your limits with CAP.

Learn to Lead

CAP stands apart from most youth organizations by giving Cadets a large and active role in the leadership and planning of Cadet activities. This is possible because Cadets start to learn to lead and manage only after mastering the art of working on a team with a common goal. Cadets move incrementally through a diverse range of leadership roles and responsibilities. Promotions through CAP's Cadet rank structure require that Cadets take on increased responsibility in their program through their whole Cadet career, and gives them the tools they need to be effective, dynamic team players and leaders for the rest of their lives.

Reach New Heights

CAP has helped countless young people get off of the ground for the first time, from Astronaut Eric Boe to Thunderbird Nicole Malokowski. One of our three missions is Aerospace Education, which we accomplish through field trips, classroom academics, and hands-on activities with rockets, robots, and airplanes. Not least of our AE mission of course, is introducing young people to flying. Every Cadet can take up to 10 free front-seat flights in CAP glider and powered aircraft, giving them the chance to take the controls with a structured curriculum, introduce them to the principles of flight, prepare them for formal flight instruction, and have fun! Cadets can also earn solo pilot ratings in glider, powered, and balloon aircraft with CAP equipment, instructors, and activities! 

Outdoor Adventures, with a Sense of Purpose

Of CAP's missions, the most well-known outside the Cadet Program are search and rescue, and disaster relief. CAP Members work together with the US Air Force, and other government agencies to provide vital ground and air services. Our Emergency Services mission is to aid in the preservation of human life and property during times of crisis ranging from lost aircraft to hurricanes. The training is challenging, and real missions are doubly-so, but the results are their own reward. From communications and aerial reconnaissance to ground search and rescue, we offer the chance to participate in exciting outdoor adventures with a sense of purpose.

Build Character and Confidence through Accomplishment 

The CAP Cadet Program is structured to build upon past successes and lessons learned. Cadets learn and lead incrementally, starting out with small responsibilities, building on those responsibilities to eventually take charge of large projects, groups of people, and materials.  Along the way, more experienced Cadets and Senior Members guide these future leaders through their assignments to ensure that they are building on past successes and lessons learned to eventually become self-directed, creative, confident team members and leaders.

Serve Your Community

Local CAP units provide thousands of hours of community service each year. Cadets learn the value of giving-back in a rewarding and fun way by supporting local community events, such as Redmond Derby Days, and larger regional events such as the Arlington Fly In. Most school programs require their students to meet a community service requirement, and CAP Cadets have numerous opportunities to fulfill these requirements while having a great time with friends.

Experience Camaraderie

Most Cadets join for the flying, CAP's military aspects, or because of the sense of purpose the program instills. The reason that Cadets stay in CAP, though, is the long-lasting friendships they develop. Most former Cadets will tell you the same thing: in nearly every corner of the country there is someone they consider to be one of their closest, most reliable friends who they never would have met were it not for CAP. The friendships that Cadets form are rooted in shared interests, challenges met, and successes earned, and are formed beyond the normal scope of their local neighborhood or school.

Encounter New Places

In addition to local and state-wide activities, more experienced Cadets can participate in nation-wide National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs) and the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE). These prestigious activities provide unique glimpses into the worlds of aviation, Air Force, and leadership careers. The International Air Cadet Exchange takes Cadets on a two-week trip to visit places of cultural, military, and aviation importance in one of a wide array of foreign countries. Cadets who've gone agree that it is an eye-opening, once-in-a-lifetime privilege!