Cadet Program FAQs
CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP Officers) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI and are required to complete a rigrous training program in youth protection. Also, as part of their leadership training, more advanced cadets lead and mentor newer cadets under the guidance of adult members. For more information, see our cadet protection policy.
Of course, school comes first. CAP expects cadets to maintain “satisfactory performance” at school, as defined by the cadet’s parents. Because CAP emphasizes self-discipline, it’s not uncommon for cadets to see their grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.
CAP uses uniforms to promote teamwork and develop self-discipline. The uniform motivates cadets to set high standards for themselves and to live their core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect. Additionally, cadets practice military customs and courtesies as part of their leadership training.
There are 3 basic cadet uniforms: The short-sleeve (Air Force style) blue uniform, the BDU (camouflage) uniform and the Physical Training uniform.
New cadets are eligible to receive the Air Force style blue uniform at no cost to them through the Cadet Uniform Program, upon joining (depending on the availability of Air Force funding). BDUs and other uniform items may be available through your squadron’s supply or may be purchased through the online Vanguard clothing sales store or local Military supply stores.
Our squadron has a limited supply of the basic insignia. Purchase is also available through Vanguard, CAP’s official supplier of uniform insignia and uniform items.
Through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders, cadets experience flight first-hand. CAP’s pilots are licensed by the FAA, follow a syllabus for each flight, and ensure the flight is conducted safely. Five powered and five glider orientation flights are free to cadets.
Cadets advance at their own pace through self-study and group study. To progress, cadets must (1) participate actively; (2) pass a written leadership test; (3) pass a written aerospace test; (4) pass a physical fitness test; (5) participate in character development forums; and most of all (6) demonstrate they have the maturity to accept increased responsibility. (In some stages of the Cadet Program, these requirements differ slightly.)
CAP expects cadets to participate actively, but of course CAP recognizes that cadets have school, family, and other obligations that take priority. We meet weekly for about 2 1/2 hours and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer. If a cadet is unable to attend a CAP activity, they should let their element leader know in advance. Like any extra-curricular activity, cadets will get out of CAP only what they put into it.
Youth can join once they turn 12 years old. Our cadet program is challenging for youth of all ages. Youth can remain a cadet up to age 21.
However, if you are joining at age 18 or older, you must join as an adult, which we call Senior Members.
Adults – anyone over 18 – can join as either a Cadet Sponsor or Senior Member. Cadet Sponsors can attend activities and events with cadets. Senior Members get involved in adult education related to aerospace and emergency services. They can progress through grades from Second Lieutenant to Colonel.
They also can take on Specialty Tracks where they learn about that specialty and progress through three levels: Technician, Senior and Master.
While Civil Air Patrol is a military-style program based on the Air Force grade structure, we are all volunteers, cannot be deployed, and are not required to join the military. The CAP Cadet Program is a good introduction to military discipline, customs, and courtesies, but the leadership skills learned through our program will serve members well regardless of their chosen career path, in either a military or civilian direction.
There are some advantages to CAP membership for cadets who are interested in the military. For instance, the military academies look very favorably on CAP experience. Also, if a cadet progresses in the program to the grade of 2nd Lieutenant, he or she can join the Air Force at an E-3 pay grade.