Civil Air Patrol

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by patrickhopkins, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. patrickhopkins

    patrickhopkins Member

    Apr 9, 2013
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    When I was talking to my guidance counselor setting up my HS classes, and I told him that I am interested in the USAFA, he recommended that I join the local CAP. After doing some research, I came across a piece of information stating that approximately 10% of each class were in CAP. I am just wondering, what do you do in it? And is it a good idea to join?
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp 5-Year Member

    May 21, 2008
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    Why don't you go to and look at what they do?

    As for if it's a "Good Idea". That totally depends on if it's what you WANT to do.

    If you're asking if it will help you get into the air force academy, and that's why you would want to join it; the answer is: It will help you just as much as being in JrROTC, Boy Scouts, Hands in Harmony, Marching Band, or anything else you choose.

    Basically; it doesn't matter what your extra curricular activities are. What matters is if you EXCEL in the activity and if you gain levels or responsibility and leadership in said activities.

    If you join CAP because you like what they do and you want to: Good for you.
    If you join CAP because you think you'll get some extra points for the academy: Bad for you. If you join something that you aren't really into because you think it will increase your odds, what will happen is that you won't do well in it. As such, you won't progress in leadership position. And ultimately, it will totally negate any advantage you thought you had.

    Same with sports. Can't tell you how many kids I've seen try and get on the football team their SENIOR YEAR, when they've never played before, just to beef up their resume for college. Don't do it.
  3. nn139

    nn139 USAFA Appointee 2017

    Nov 1, 2012
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    I agree with Christcorp. CAP is an investment in you, not in your resume.

    I am currently a Cadet Chief Master Sergeant and CAP has been a critical part in my development as a leader. I have learned skills related to responsibility, teamwork, and assertiveness through my participation in the cadet program. If you participate actively in the program, you will have good introduction to Air Force structure, customs, and history.

    Furthermore, if you choose not to go Air Force , or even military, the skills you learn in CAP will definitely transfer over into the civilian world. Things like respect and attention to detail are important skills to have no matter what you do.

    This is my personal experience. I have been blessed to have a great Senior Member leadership and a very committed Drill Team Commander, which has allowed me to fully dive into the cadet program (I've been a cadet for about 16 months). Nevertheless, this is not the only activity in which I have a leadership position, so don't expect CAP to be your golden ticket.
  4. fencersmother

    fencersmother 5-Year Member Founding Member

    Oct 10, 2007
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    CAP was a great experience for one of my kids and not so wonderful, though useful, for other members of my family. Check out your local squadron, see for yourself what they do. It won't especially help you nor hurt you to belong but don't join it, or do any other EC, just because it "looks good" on your resume. Have a passion for aviation? Check it out. Have a passion for animals? Go to the zoo.
  5. HeWantsTheBFE

    HeWantsTheBFE USAFA Class of 2017

    Feb 1, 2013
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    C/Captain here! This is definitely the case, and even above the NCO ranks there is a lot to provide. National-level summer activities and such are unique amongst any program in the US. Imagine running an airshow or going to Capitol hill to lobby! Those are just some of the things i've learned in CAP.

    But most importantly CAP has let me grow as a person, and is something i've done because I loved to do it, not because of the AFA. It just so happens that the AFA likes good CAP cadets! Just something to keep in mind.

    That being said, CAP has an awesome cadet program and I think it can easily be in line with your goals. If you want any help finding a good unit, I can hel you with that, just message me, or post on my visitor's wall.
  6. Invisibility

    Invisibility Member

    Dec 10, 2012
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    +1 to Christcorp.

    That said, I'm a cadet 1st Lt. in CAP. I've been involved 4 years and it's been extremely valuable.

    If you're considering joining, you should definitely go poke around on the website. Also look for a unit in your area. If you're lucky, there might be several within driving distance. I'd visit all the ones that are--different squadrons have very different cultures.

    Basically, CAP is about Emergency Services, Aerospace, and Cadet Programs. Emergency Services is the least self-explanatory... in my area, it's a lot of search & rescue training. Another significant component is disaster relief--things like Hurricane Sandy.
    Aerospace is just about what you'd expect. Some squadrons are composed entirely of "airplane geeks." I personally haven't taken flight lessons, but perhaps 5 cadets in my unit are currently working toward their pilot's licenses, and another got hers this summer. It's a great opportunity for them because the CFA is donating his time... all they have to pay for is gas and the (very reduced) airplane cost! Scholarships are also available, and in many squadrons there is a heavy aerospace knowledge component (tests are a requirement for promotions, so that makes sense.)
    The last and--to me, at least--most valuable part is Cadet Programs. This is integrated into the rest of the program to differing extents in different squadrons. In mine, cadets run everything. We have some senior member oversight, but mostly they let us do the work. In other squadrons--especially those with lots of young cadets, or with very few cadets--senior members are more involved with planning, instruction, etc. As well as learning formally about leadership, you get to apply it. I've already seen benefits in applying skills I've learned (administrative, motivation, etc) to being a good team captain in other activities.

    CAP has NOT been a rosy experience every day, but it has definitely been worth it. If you are in middle school or are just starting high school, I would highly recommend checking it out. If you're a little bit older, you may still want to look at it, but bear in mind that depending on the unit you may not have enough time to get a leadership role. I'd plan to try to spend at least 2 years active (attending nearly every meeting) to get the most out of it.

    Also, a caveat--from what our alumni cadets say, CAP will not prepare you for most aspects of the military. Much as most cadets would like to pretend otherwise, we are a civilian organization as well as the AF auxiliary. Don't expect to get a complete picture of "what the AF would be like." Maybe a taste. Maybe. But if you join, join for its other merits.

    EDIT: As HeWantsTheBFE pointed out, there are many, many great opportunities at a very reasonable price once you've put in some time. Go to Encampment and then check out NCSAs! COS is far the best one I've been to, but I've also heard great things about IACE, Blue Beret, etc.
  7. usafahopeful1

    usafahopeful1 Prospective Cadet 2017 5-Year Member

    Mar 15, 2011
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    Another Cadet Captain

    I agree with everything above.

    I joined CAP my sophomore year, and have gotten a lot out of it. My leadership skills are greatly improved, I know so much more about airplanes, aerospace, and how to fly than I would have if I hadn't done CAP. The emergency services side is pretty good in my area. We concentrate on search and rescue and disaster relief as well, but for cadets it is mostly training. My squadron and wing work at local activities for fundraisers (airshows, races) so that we can do our own activities.

    The summer activities can be amazing! I went to a glider academy and learned how to fly :) Many cadets in my squadron have gone to leadership, engineering and other flight academies.

    CC is correct about joining because you want to, and not as a resume builder, if you don't enjoy the activity (especially in CAP) it will show and you will not get much out of the program. On the other hand, if you really like it, you can get a lot out of it and give a lot back to the next group of cadets in the process.

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