By Emily Burleigh
As a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who volunteer their time to assist in disasters, search for the lost, and protect the nation, the Civil Air Patrol adopts its motto: “Volunteers Serving American Communities, Saving lives and shaping the future,” very seriously.
One of the ways CAP does this is through its CAP Cadet program.
“The mission of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is to develop young people into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders,” said Tracy Jordan, public affairs officer for the Lake Charles Composite Squadron. “Through their volunteer efforts, cadets help provide relief to communities experiencing natural disasters, teach leadership values and pass on the love of science and technology to other young people, and inspire community as a whole with a love for our country. ”
According to Jordan, the Civil Air Patrol was founded in 1941 to “organize the civil aviation resources of the country.” CAP leaders established the CAP Cadet Program on October 1, 1942, for boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 18. Today, the program has expanded to include students aged 12 to 18.
In this program, cadets participate in search and rescue exercises alongside senior limbs. Cadets assume the roles of members of the ground crew, flight line staff, and mission base staff.
Jordan said that in real-life emergency response situations, cadets often serve as mission base personnel. In this role, cadets help senior members manage communications and resources.
“More regularly, cadets volunteer at community events such as air shows, parades and parties,” Jordan said. She said cadets help with a variety of community service activities, such as clearing runways of debris, assisting with traffic direction and crowd control, and mustering planes. They also work with local scout groups and schools to share information and love aviation.
Through their good works, CAP and their cadets aim to bring about change by “inspiring the community at large with a love for our country”.
The CAP Cadet program emphasizes STEM education. “Many cadet squadrons also partner with local scout groups and schools to share their love of aviation,” she said. “They demonstrate rocket launches, conduct STEM activities and run the Red Ribbon Leadership Academy.”
Besides the CAP cadet program and squadron activities, they offer many STEM resources that are free for educators. “Teachers who join as members of Aerospace Education have access to a wealth of resources that can be used in their classrooms, and they can take a free teacher orientation flight on one of the Cessna aircraft from CAP,” she explained.
This summer, many local CAP cadets are attending summer camp at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. This camp lasts a week and “emphasizes leadership, character, fitness and STEM”.
CAP members assist the community by performing local, state, and federal emergency services as an auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force.
Prospective candidates are encouraged to attend at least three of their local squadron meetings before committing to the program. The Lake Charles Composite Squadron meets at St. Luke-Simpson United Methodist Church on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. For more information, www.gocivilairpatrol.com.