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Cadet Programs

CAP Cadet Programs photo

Considering Joining the Civil Air Patrol as a Cadet?

The cadet program in the Civil Air Patrol can be thought of as a standard programencampment, and a number of optional programs.

The “standard program”

The “standard program” consists of weekly meetings (i.e. Squadron 807 meets each Monday between 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM) with prearranged topics. The topics at these meetings range from aerospace education, safety, leadership, character development, physical fitness, and drill.

During typical meetings cadets can expect to be instructed and practice drill, attend a lecture on various safety topics, or be asked to stand up in front of the class and address group on various topics. In most cases during these public speaking exercises, the actual topic is of secondary importance to getting use to speaking in front of a group of people.

Concurrent with the “standard program,” cadets are enrolled in a program to study both leadership skills and aerospace education. Upon joining CAP the cadet will receive booklets on both leadership and aerospace topics. It is the cadet’s responsibility to read a chapter of leadership and a unit on aerospace and complete an online test (open book) on these topics to go up in grade (rank).

In addition to these tests, a cadet must pass physical fitness requirements, regularly attend CAP meetings, and pass a drill test to be promoted. A cadet must spend at least 56 days (8 weeks) in each grade prior to being allowed to promote again.

Milestone exams are given at five points in a cadet’s professional development. These tests are cumulative, closed book, and given during one of the weekly meetings.


After at least six months in CAP, but before they can take their second milestone exam, cadets must attend a week long encampment.

Encampment is CAP’s equivalent of boot camp. It is, by design, a little intimidating, but cadets who have experienced encampment leave it with a sense of accomplishment.

The “optional programs:”

Emergency Services

As stated in the mission statement, Emergency Services is one of the three primary purposes of CAP. This does not mean that members are required to train or participate in Emergency Services operations.

However, CAP does offer both its cadets and senior members training and experience necessary to be active contributing members in emergency operations on the local, state, and national levels.

For more information, please see our Emergency Services pages.

National Cadet Special Activities

The National Cadet Special Activities are a compilation of camps for CAP cadets.

These camps focus on either Aviation, Leadership, Technology or Operations Training (Emergency Services). In addition, the International Cadet Exchange, which allows selected cadets to represent the United States in selected foreign countries, is run out of NCSA.

Please note, some NCSAs have age or grade/rank requirements to attend and the application/selection process for some camps can be competitive.

Please also note, the course listings on the NCSA website are usually posted between late November through late Summer. They are usually taken offline in late Summer while the next years courses are being developed.

For more information, please click here: National Cadet Special Activities.


What can I get out of CAP?

What you get out of CAP’s cadet program depends upon what you put in to it.

Naturally, cadets may expect:

  • Comradery

  • Friendships

  • New challenges

  • New experiences

  • New skills

However, there are also some fantastic opportunities, depending on a cadet’s plans for after high school graduation:

  • Eligibility for College Scholarships

  • USAF enlistment as an E-3 upon completion of the Mitchell Award. (Note – cadets are not required to enlist in the military)

  • Aircraft or Glider Pilot’s license training upon completion of appropriate NCSA camps

Join Us

Our squadrons consist of both senior members 18 years of age and older, and cadet members between 12 and 21 years of age. 

Our three core Civil Air Patrol missions are:


Click here to learn how to join



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