civil air patrol?


5-Year Member
My friend and I were thinking about joining the civil air patrol and had some questions.

1) How are the people in it?
2) What do you do at meetings?
3) How much does it help with college applications, particularly the SA's? I know it helps a lot for USAFA but I don't know about other colleges/SA's.


5-Year Member
USAFA looks at kids with CAPS. USNA looks at kids who are in Sea Cadets and then they all look at kids who are in ROTC.
My son is a Sea Cadet and loves it and has been for 4 years. I think you need to go and look at your local unit for CAPS. Meet the adult leaders the cadets and how they run their program.
From my experience all units are a little different.



10-Year Member
Civil Air Patrol is a fine organization and excellent preparation for any Service Academy application. It is not only considered by USAFA. Our about-to-graduate mid told us on 9/11/01 that she was going to serve her country. Yeah, great - but she was 12 years old! On her own she scoured the internet for SOME WAY to prepare to serve and discovered CAP. You need to simply get on the national page - locate your state and then local Squadrons. Contact the local one and check it out. Not only did our young lady learn military drill, uniform use, military codes and procedures - she developed leadership skills there ( became Cadet commander - a nice perk on any college resume) and interfaced with many military commands ( we live in military-rich San Diego County). She got to fly in planes, tour ships, ride in Navy amphibious craft, spend days/weeks on many military bases in Encampment and training, and travel all over the country in competitions for our Squadron's Color Guard Team - winning in National Competitions several years in a row. Talk about having military experience preparation for the Naval Academy!

When our mid-girl was a Plebe - it turned out her Plebe summer roommate was ALSO a former CAP cadet who was also the Cadet Commander of her Squadron in PA. What do you know? They scored a perfect score on their first room inspection as Plebes! Do you know how rare this is?! Let's just say all that was printed on their first inspection report was: "instruct your classmates".

As a continuing CAP family ( daughter recruited dear ole dad, who has just stepped down from his run as Senior Squadron Commander) we are witnessing other young adults choosing diffferent military components to their desires to serve: be it enlisting/ ROTC or Service Academy.

If nothing else - CAP is a wonderful experience for any young person to appreciate a love of our country and serve one's community.


5-Year Member
CAP, Sea Cadets, Young Marines, JROTC, all are excellent programs for young people who want to serve their country and are interested in the SA's. They all will indoctrinate you in the various aspects of being in the military, provide you some outstanding opportunities to visit military units, bases, etc, and participate in military activities. They also will provide you with outstanding opportunities to develop your leadership skills as exhibited above. BUT, like any other opportunity, how much you benefit will depend upon how much effort you put forth. Don't expect huge accolades if you join and then vegetate on the sidelines - be active and seek opportunities to lead. As stated above also, all of the SA's are interested in the exploits of those who have participated in any of these programs.


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Civil Air Patrol rocks. Don't join any program just because you think it might increase your shots at getting into a SA/SMC; join it because you've done your research and you like what you're seeing. Asking these questions is an excellent first step.

I received some top notch leadership training from CAP. Just as an example, the national Cadet Officer School is held each summer at Maxwell AFB. COS is about 10 days long. It's modeled off the USAF Squadron Officer School, which is the professional development course all USAF Captains (LTs) are required to attend before they're promotable to Major (LCDR). CAP cadets receive a bite-size version of the same training USAF Capts do, taught by many of the same instructors. When I attended the Civic Leadership Academy, I toured the Pentagon, toured the CIA, met the Deputy Secretary of State, had lunch with an Ambassador, met my congressmen, and toured the Supreme Court. This year's CLA actually met Justice Scalia, who randomly decided when he met the CAP cadets to rearrange his own schedule to give them an hour-long, closed door Q&A session. When I went on the International Air Cadet Exchange, I spent a week and a half touring Turkey, learning about the Turkish Air Force and aviation industry. I had dinner with the retired Turkish one-star general who was then serving as the chief of aviation (military and civil) within the Turkish government.

I've known a few Sea Cadets. While I'm no expert in their programs, I know they provide the opportunity to spend a few weeks aboard ship with the Navy and/or the Coast Guard. They also have an activity designed to introduce you to life as a member of a Seal Team. I think they also have courses for amphibious training and firefighting, and I'm certain they provide top notch leadership academies, as well.

But don't forget the Young Marines and the US Army Cadet Corps. :smile: I wanted to join the Young Marines, with the USNSCC as a second choice. The closest units for each were a 45 minute drive one way. I found a CAP squadron 15 minutes away. It was a matter of convenience for my family, but I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences CAP gave me. Talk to a Sea Cadet, and I'm sure they'll share equally awesome experiences with you that they never could have had if they'd joined CAP, instead.

That said... I'm pretty sure that nobody else from the squadron I initially joined went to COS, CLA, or the International Air Cadet Exchange, and I know no one else served in the leadership roles I was fortunate enough to learn from for other summer training activities. Once I joined, I had to seek information, figure out the paperwork and do things for myself. I learned a lot about taking initiative and being responsible for reaching my own goals.

Regardless of whether or not joining a specific cadet program will help you get into USNA or any other college you're applying to, you'll become a better person and a better leader. But they probably won't care very much if you only got promoted once and never did anything outside of weekly meetings.

Here's my point: There are some awesome, awesome opportunities out there in the way of military-style cadet programs for high school students. Part of what makes them awesome is that you have to take some initiative and seek these opportunities out yourself, which is kind of like real life. :smile:

Figure out which cadet program works best for you, and then never look back.

Good luck,

Jackie M. Briski
VMI Class of 2009
Capt, CAP


5-Year Member

Civil Air Patrol takes bad raps sometimes. I am a Staff Duty Officer in the State EOC here in Pennsylvania. We work with them when there is a missing or downed aircraft or a missing person. Plus they do a lot a photography here in Pennsylvania. They also do site security on aircraft crashes on what called a state mission. Among other things. CAP exists in all states. It will certainly benefit you if you apply to the Air Force Academy. If you have any additional questions, just send a pm. Community service is a great thing.