Your first step after becoming a member is the Level One Orientation Course
and Cadet Protection Program Training. These are described below.
Phase One Orientation Course
This videotape-based course introduces you to Civil Air Patrol's history,
organization, missions, and uniforms. The overview of Civil Air Patrol's history since 1941 covers the events which
led to the founding of CAP, major activities during WWII, and developments since then. The mission section will introduce
you to Civil Air Patrol's three missions (aerospace education, emergency services, and the cadet program) and will describe
CAP's unique and special relationship with the United States Air Force (CAP is the USAF Auxiliary.) Military customs
and courtesies will be covered, including military rank and grade. CAP organization will describe the command structure
from the National level down to the local squadron level. Local policies and practices in each of these areas are also
Cadet Protection Program Training (CPPT)
CAP has long had a very successful program to protect the cadets who are
entrusted to its care during their activities. All senior members must complete CPPT within the first 90 days of membership,
and cannot work with cadets until CPPT is complete. The emphasis is upon identification of possible sexual abuse involving
a cadet, and the procedures which must be followed if such abuse is suspected. CPPT will not make you an expert, but
it provides a useful introduction to the topic. It has also given CAP an excellent historical record of cadet protection,
which is a matter of great concern to all of us.
Unit Job Assignments
After the Orientation Course, it is largely up to you and your squadron
commander to decide what you'll be doing for the CAP, and what the CAP can offer you. Depending on the commander's
needs, you may be offered a position supporting the operations and administration of the squadron. You may get
assigned in any of the following areas: Administration, Finance, Logistics
(supply, transportation and aircraft maintenance), Cadet Programs (working with and training the cadets,)
Senior Programs (developing both CAP-specific and military training programs for seniors,) Public
Affairs (publicity,) Communications, Emergency Services, Operations (usually
flight operations,) and the list goes on! Your assignment will probably be based on some combination of your background,
your interests, and your squadron's needs.
Level Two Training
Once you're assigned a position, you are entered into Level Two of the
Senior Member Training Program (there are five levels, of which, the Orientation Course is Level One.) As you progress
through the training levels, you will earn certain ratings (certifications/classifications of your skill/ability level) in
your duty assignment. These ratings are called Technician, Senior, and Master.
Not all new members of CAP come from a military background. Consequently,
the military structure and practices in CAP will be a new world to them. Several courses are designed to provide this
information at different times during the member's time in CAP. Basic material about being an officer in CAP is covered
in ECI-13. This is a USAF Correspondence Course entitled CAP Officer Course, which teaches basic officership
and management skills. After you have been a member for a while, CAP's Squadron Leadership School (SLS)
introduces you to what each squadron staff officer is doing to support the unit. The Corporate Learning Course
teaches more in-depth about certain squadron functions to enable you take a senior leadership role leading to command within
your squadron. The most advanced course, the Corporate Learning Course, is for senior CAP officers
who have been members several years and may move into higher command positions.
Aerospace Education (AE) Training and Activities
For seniors as for cadets, there is an aerospace education curriculum
designed to increase your knowledge in that area. It includes self-study and examinations from a CAP text, practical
AE projects, and field trips and other activities. CAP is a sponsor of the National Council on Aerospace Education (NCASE),
a national AE focal point. The annual NCASE convention is the largest such activity in the country and is attended by
both CAP members and professional educators and other interested persons from across the country.
OK, so you've got your duty assignment and know a little more about what
other training programs are available to you. What about the fun stuff? Well again, that depends on your unit's
needs, your background, and interests. There are MANY, MANY opportunities for you to participate in new, exciting, and
challenging activities within CAP. Many of these are in the Emergency Services arena, and many are in the Cadet Programs
Within Emergency Services, you could become trained as
a Ground Team member or an Aircrew member. Honestly, you become probably most valuable once you've received training
in both (so you know both sides of the fence.) Ground Team training includes CPR, first aid, navigation, commuications and
basic woodland techniques (or other geography, depending on features in your area,) etc. You will meet training requirements
which satisfy both CAP and the State of Oregon. Aircrew training includes scanning and observing techniques and flight
at low altitudes and speeds in weather that often is less than the best. Both include electronic and visual search techniques,
and crew resource management (how to work within your team.)
Cadet Program, you could become an instructor for aerospace education, leadership, physical fitness, or moral
leadership. You could advise drill and ceremonies teams, color guard teams, act as a cadet orientation ground instructor
or cadet orientation pilot (that is, if you're a pilot!) You could participate in weekend bivouacs (camping trips)
and Wing encampments (usually a week long activity which combines a full blend of leadership, aerospace, military doctrine,
and INCREDIBLY fun activities and learning experiences.) A very important part of the cadet program is flight
orientations. This is a series of five powered flights and five glider flights which introduce cadets to actual
flight, including getting their hands on the controls.
This can take a variety of forms. If you are interested in teaching
cadets or seniors, there is a lot you can do. You can participate in any number of activities which are educational
for the participants. The McMinnville Composite Squadron presents Monthly Aerospace Workshops at the Evergreen Educational
Institute (Home of the Spruce Goose.) We also have a nationally recognized Mock Space Shuttle Program. There are
many opportunities to help with lectures and presentations to the community.
CAP offers a wide variety of activities involving cadets and seniors from
all over the United States. For seniors, many are as an escort on cadet activities. These include the Parachute
Jumping Orientation Course, Space Command Orientation Course, national flight encampments, and even the International Air
Cadet Exchange. The last involves about 14 countries each year which send cadets to other countries for about two weeks.
These vary with the unit. The McMinnville Composite Squadron works
with the Evergreen Aviation Museum providing Aerospace Workshhops to the public, provides support for many community events,
and has a strong bond with the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office through the Search and Rescue Team and the Air Posse organizations.
There are camping trips which are used for field training in the ground team specialties, tours of aviation-related facilities,
and many more events such as the Mock Space Shuttle Program, orientation flights, and lots of other fun activities.
In a nutshell, if you've got the time, we've got the activities and training to fill it!
Rewards from CAP Participation
What can CAP do for you? Well, there's a different answer
there for each and every member of Civil Air Patrol. But, there are a lot of rewards including the satisfaction of knowing
that if there is an emergency, you are trained to provide lifesaving assistance. There is the satisfaction of knowing
that you've touched people's lives, especially the cadets, (hopefully in a positive way) and helped make a difference
in their lives by helping them to choose a lifestyle and make choices that we hope and strive for in all young Americans.
CAP is often the way of introducing aviation to others, including the unforgettable experience of seeing a cadet climb out
of the plane after the very first flight. There are the young people who have received a nomination and, later, an appointment
to a service academy. Others come back to tell the unit of their experiences in basic training, where the things they
learned in CAP about leadership and discipline and the military have helped them to succeed and stand out.
There is a lot more that can be said, but you will learn much as you go.
CAP is an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience on many levels. Welcome to the organization. Come and
dive in. The next page steps you through the process of joining.