Would you like to honor and serve America? Do you want to prepare for your future while making new friends? Then rise to the challenge of cadet membership in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. Cadets fly, learn to lead, hike, camp, get in shape, and push themselves to new limits. If you’re dreaming about a career in aviation, space, or the military, then CAP’s Cadet Program is for you.
How much can you achieve? Find out by becoming a cadet. “I am pushing myself to be a better person.” Cadet Kristin Miller “I made my first solo flight at a CAP encampment.” Astronaut Eric Boe “I’ve learned discipline – something not stressed enough in today’s society.” Cadet Theresa Paredes. See the Cadet FAQs page for more information.
CAP’s cadet programs are designed to inspire the country’s youth to become leaders and good American citizens through their interest in aerospace. Would you like to honor and serve America? Do you want to prepare for your future while making new friends? Then rise to the challenge of cadet membership in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.
Cadet Program Overview
Cadets fly, learn to lead, hike, camp, get in shape, and push themselves to new limits. If you’re dreaming about a career in aviation, space, or the military, CAP’s Cadet Program is for you.
To become a cadet, you must be be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old. Cadets meet 2 hours per week and one Saturday per month, on average, and also have opportunities to attend leadership encampments, career academies, and other activities during the summer. See the Cadet Programs page for more information.
The cadet program is designed to foster leadership and good citizenship in America’s youth, using aerospace education, Air Force role models and emphasis on public service. Cadets may participate in a variety of activities, gain rank and increased recognition in the program and receive benefits for participation in the program should they choose to enter military service. Most of all, it challenges them to learn and grow in ways they may not have had the opportunity to were it not for the program.
Cadet Program Structure
The Cadet Program itself is divided into five phases – the Motivation Phase, and four primary phases (the Learning Phase I, the Leadership Phase II, the Command Phase III, and the Executive Phase IV) – dedicated phases for learning and growth.
The Motivation Phase introduces the prospective cadet to the requirements, procedures, and goals of CAP.
After the Motivation Phase, the next four phases use aerospace education, leadership, physical fitness, and moral leadership to instill and develop qualities of leadership and responsibilities in the cadet members. The entire cadet program is oriented toward an activities program held within the individual squadron setting. Activities selected by a squadron for its program are designed to meet the individual member’s need.
Throughout the cadet program, from the first achievement through to the completion of the program; emphasis is placed on individual and group study, instruction and attainment. Each of the four phases emphasizes the four program areas mentioned above as well as individual unit activities, such as drill team, color guard, model rocketry, and emergency services training. As cadets progress, they earn ribbons, awards, and increased grade, rewarding their commitment and achievement in the program. Each phase becomes more challenging and builds on what the cadet has already learned.
In Phase I, the Learning Phase is just that cadets learn to function in a military-type environment. They learn to march, wear their uniform properly, learn the principles of followership, and begin to learn about the aerospace environment.
In Phase II, the Leadership Phase, cadets become more involved in the program. They may enter leadership roles in their squadron and attend a CAP encampment, which is designed to give cadets an introduction to the Air Force culture and hands on leadership and aerospace training in a team environment. It is at the conclusion of this phase that they receive the first major award for achievement in the Cadet Program, the General Billy Mitchell Award.
In Phase III, the Command Phase, the cadet is expected to take on greater responsibility for activities and training within their squadron. They must assume a leadership position and mentor younger cadets in a variety of areas. In addition, they must also become knowledgeable in different staff areas, learning from their senior member counterparts in areas such as public affairs. This is in addition to continuing the activities they began in Phases I and II. At the conclusion of this phase, the cadet may receive the Amelia Earhart Award and go on to the final phase of cadet training.
In Phase IV, the Executive Phase, are designed to provide high level leadership experiences to the individual cadet. When the cadet has completed the requirements for Phase IV, they will receive the General Ira C. Eaker Award and become eligible to test for the highest award for achievement in the Cadet Program, the General Carl A. Spaatz Award. The Spaatz Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the cadet program phases. This exam is passed by less than one percent of the total cadet population.
Once a cadet has passed the Spaatz examination, they are promoted to the highest grade in the program, cadet colonel. Most attend college and pursue aerospace careers; many have earned a pilot certificate; and all are advisors to those involved with conducting the cadet program. Spaatz cadets continue to improve themselves through applying what they have learned throughout the cadet program and assisting other cadets to excel.
Activities and Rewards
Cadets at all levels of CAP enjoy a wide variety of activities at the squadron, wing and national level. Cadets may train and participate in SAR missions, enjoy orientation flights, take field trips, go to the encampments we have described (mandatory for Phase II completion), etc.
In addition, they may become eligible to go on a variety of national activities designed to complement the cadet curriculum. These activities cover a wide range of aerospace, emergency services, career exploration, and leadership topics. Cadets may even qualify to travel to a foreign country to represent Civil Air Patrol and the United States.
Cadets may also qualify for college scholarships. Cadets wanting to enlist in the Air Force and holding the Mitchell Award may enlist at a higher pay grade over their contemporaries. This can mean thousands of extra dollars over a career. The Cadet Program offers today’s youth unlimited opportunities to excel.
1. Must be between 12 and 18 years old.
3. At the third meeting we will give you instructions on how to make an on-line membership application.
Thank you for supporting your son’s or daughter’s interest in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. CAP is a volunteer, non-profit organization that also serves as the civilian auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force. Our three missions are to develop youth through a cadet program, educate Americans on the importance of aviation and space, and perform live-saving humanitarian missions. The program accepts new cadets who are at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old. It is a year-round program with weekly meetings at a local CAP squadron and additional activities on weekends or during the summer. CAP is not a military or boarding school, but a youth development program that incorporates aviation and military customs and courtesies. Through their experiences as CAP cadets, young people develop into responsible citizens and become tomorrow’s aerospace leaders.
The leadership skills, self-confidence, and discipline cadets gain through CAP prepares them to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves in life. To fulfill its goal of developing young people into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders, the Cadet Program is developed around five program elements: Leadership, Character Development, Aerospace Education, Physical Fitness, and Activities. As cadets participate in these five elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way. See the Parents FAQs page for more information.