Thank you for supporting your son's or daughter's interest in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program.
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.
CAP is the volunteer, non-profit auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Its three missions are to develop its cadets, educate Americans on the importance of aviation and space, and perform live-saving humanitarian missions.
Parents' Guide (Download PDF, 720k)
This brochure explains the basic goals and policies of the CAP Cadet Program. The contents include:
-- Overview of the Cadet Program
-- Cadet Activities
-- Cadet Membership
-- Partnering with Parents
Investing in America's Youth (Download PDF, 1.8mb)
This pamphlet summarizes how CAP transforms youth into leaders through the Cadet Program. Subtitled "A Strategic Overview of CAP Cadet Programs," the pamphlet considers what long-term outcomes the Cadet Program achieves for America and the cadets themselves. Contents include discussions about how CAP:
-- Develops leadership skills in youth
-- Develops youth into responsible citizens
-- Develops character in youth
-- Inspires in youth a love of aviation and space
-- Introduces youth to aerospace careers
-- Motivates youth for academic success
Parents are welcome to participate in CAP. No prior military service or special skills are required. Whether you want to help chaperone cadets once in a while or become a full-fledged senior member active in CAP missions, we would love to have you get involved in CAP.
Parents Committee -- help arrange carpools, plan social events, raise funds, and connect the squadron to your hometown by serving on an informal parents'committee
-- To volunteer, talk with your son's or daughter's squadron commander.
Cadet Sponsor Member -- occasionally support cadets as a chaperone or driver
-- To volunteer,talk with the squadron commander, who will give you a membership application, help you get fingerprinted, and complete an orientation course. Annual dues vary by state.
Senior Member -- take a leadership role in the Cadet Program, and/or participate in CAP's aerospace education and emergency services missions
-- To volunteer, talk with the squadron commander, who will give you a membership application, help you get fingerprinted and complete an orientation course. Annual dues vary by state.
Any time you have a question or concern about CAP, please feel free to contact your son's or daughter's squadron commander. If local leaders are unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, the wing headquarters, which oversees all the squadrons in your state, will be glad to help. Use the unit locator to find contact information (click your state, and then click the link for the "001 Wing Headquarters" unit).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does it cost to join CAP?
A: Annual membership dues vary by state.
Q: What are the age requirements for joining CAP?
A: Youth aged 12-18 may join CAP as cadets and remain cadets until age 21. In special School Program squadrons, sixth graders may join, even if they are under age 12. Of course, adults of any age are welcome to join CAP, too.
Q: Are cadets obligated to join the military?
A: No, but many do. Cadets who earn the Billy Mitchell Award may enter the Air Force at an advanced grade (E-3) if they choose to enlist. The service academies and ROTC also look favorably on CAP experience. Approximately 10% of the USAF Academy cadet corps got their start in CAP.
Q: What level of commitment is expected from cadets?
A: CAP expects cadets to participate actively, but of course CAP recognizes that cadets have school, family, and other obligations that take priority. Most squadrons meet weekly for about 2 1/2 hours, and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer. If your son or daughter is unable to attend a CAP activity, please have them let their commander know in advance. Like any extra-curricular activity, cadets will get out of CAP only what they put into it.
Q: Who leads and supervises the cadets?
A: CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP senior members) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI. Also, as part of their leadership training, advanced cadets lead and mentor new cadets under the guidance of senior members. For more information, see our cadet protection policy.
Q: Do cadets need to maintain a certain grade point average to participate in CAP?
A: 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 parents to see their son's or daughter's grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.
Q: Why do cadets wear uniforms?
A: 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.
Q: What uniforms do cadets wear?
A: The basic cadet uniform is the short-sleeve Air Force style blue uniform. Most cadets also choose to wear the optional BDU (camouflage) uniform.
Q: How do cadets obtain uniforms?
A: 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). See your local squadron commander for details. BDUs and other uniform items may be available through your squadron's supply, and may be purchased through the clothing sales store on military installations.
Q: How do cadets obtain uniform insignia?
A: Vanguard is CAP's official supplier of uniform insignia.
Q: Where do the patches, insignia, etc. go on the uniform?
A: See the uniform mini-posters (PDF, 3.7mb) included in your son's or daughter's member kit.
Q: What's involved with cadet orientation flights?
A: 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. Orientation flights are free to cadets. See the squadron commander for information about when the next opportunity to fly is scheduled.
Q: How do cadets advance and earn promotions?
A: Cadets advance at their own pace through self-study and group study (see chart, PDF, 170k). 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.)
Q: Does CAP offer any scholarships?
A: Yes. See our scholarships page for details.
Additional Questions & Concerns
Q: I have more questions about CAP. Where can I find answers?
A: CAP's on-line Knowledgebase is a great source for more information about CAP programs. Of course, your son's or daughter's squadron commander will also be glad to answer your questions.
For more information, see the CAP Cadet Programs home page, cap.gov/cadets