Civil Air Patrol is a useful high school elective for all students.
I am counting CAP as a 1-credit elective for each year of high school, so a total of 4 credits on a high school transcript. It could even be as much as 7 credits if you count CAP as early high school courses (because I know many students who take advanced courses in middle school/junior high – and those should count and be listed on the transcript!) or you could include the earlier participation years in the description.
For a course description, I make sure to explain all the major aspects CAP addresses – leadership, character development, aerospace, volunteering, and physical fitness.
Civil Air Patrol was founded one week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Three primary mission areas were set forth at that time: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.
CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
We took a little field trip to National Headquarters when we PCSed last year.
Liz was excited to see the office of the previous National CAP commander. He wasn’t in.
My daughter has been a CAP member since she was 12 years old.
High school electives are courses that are outside of the main academic subject areas of English, math, history, science, and foreign language. We more than fulfull the minimum academic requrements in our homeschool high school planning. My children are on schedule for 4-5 credits for each academic subject.
Electives offer so many possibilities for homeschoolers. We have so much freedom and no time constraints. While most school districts require only 3-4 credits of electives, my children will most likely surpass those requirements, again with 4-5 credits or more of electives in subjects they love.
The fine arts, Bible courses, technology, internships, sports and fitness, career prep courses, extra academic classes, and Civil Air Patrol are all avenues for electives that we hope to achieve in our homeschool.
We prefer real courses over video or virtual classes. I want my kids to experience life rather than watching it from the sidelines.
Civil Air Patrol offers many valuable life skills.
Why Civil Air Patrol?
- Develop valuable leadership skills
- Experience the thrill of flying
- Test-fly potential careers
- Earn rank and awards
- Qualify for college scholarships
- Solidify moral character traits
- Make friends and have fun!
Civil Air Patrol’s core values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect were first instituted in 1999. The CAP core values mirror the core values of the United States Air Force. These core values reflect how CAP chooses to act as an organization. It’s a statement of how CAP chooses to treat fellow members, customers, and the American public. They reflect the CAP organization’s institutional commitment – as well as CAP members’ personal commitment to public service.
Civil Air Patrol offers training in leadership, aerospace, character development, and physical fitness.
Cadets advance at their own pace. Typically every two months, cadets are eligible to test for the next rank. Each Phase I and II rank earns an achievement ribbon.
Liz recently earned the rank of 2Lt and is working towards the rank of 1Lt.
To progress in rank, cadets must
- participate actively
- pass a leadership test
- pass an aerospace test
- pass a physical fitness test
- participate in character development forums
- demonstrate they have the maturity to accept increased responsibility
Four Phases of Leadership:
Each rank offers Achievements and greater responsibilities.
The Learning Phase I: C/Amn, C/A1C, C/SrA, C/SSgt
The Leadership Phase II: C/TSgt, C/MSgt, C/SMSgt, C/CMSgt, C/2d Lt
The Command Phase III C/2d Lt, C/1st Lt, C/Capt
The Executive Phase IV: C/Capt, C/Maj, C/Lt Col, C/Col
The awards and decorations of Civil Air Patrol are designed to recognize heroism, service, and program achievements.
Mitchell Cadets completing Phase II who choose to enlist in the Air Force or the Coast Guard are promoted to E-3 upon enlistment and completion of Basic Military Training (BMT), instead of E-1. Mitchell Cadets who enlist in the Marine Corps, Navy, or Army are promoted to E-2 upon completion of BMT.
View the Learn to Lead curriculum.
Explore other opportunities to grow and learn at Encampment, Leadership Schools, National Special Activities, and more.
My daughter has completed three Civil Air Patrol Encampments so far.
Of course, not all CAP cadets choose to join the military. The skills cadets learn can help them achieve any goals for college or career. It’s a great preparatory program for anyone.
Cadets experience flight firsthand through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders. CAP 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.
My Airman Cadet participated in a Civil Air Patrol campout with astronomy and activities during her first year.
View the Aerospace curriculum.
Many cadets choose to earn a pilot’s license with the various scholarship opportunities for pilot programs.
Aerospace training is a great addition to science and technology studies, offers a step up for those choosing to enlist the military, and is just fun and interesting to many students.
Civil Air Patrol provides a comprehensive character development program through Education, Training, and Outreach that:
- Promotes a positive community service lifestyle.
- Encourages youth to remain in school.
- Focuses on drug abuse awareness, education, and prevention.
- Provides positive activities as an alternative to drugs and gang violence.
Liz received the Air Force Sergeants Association Award for Cadet Leadership in April 2015!
View the Medal of Honor curriculum.
Character development is emphasized in Civil Air Patrol through leadership responsibilities, volunteering, classroom lectures, team-building activities, and guest speakers.
Many squadrons participate in community outreach by assisting at military events, honor guard and color guard, partnering with charity organizations, and many other volunteer opportunities to help others.
Liz’s squadrons have assisted at a local aviation museum and ushering at the Officers’ Club and Tops in Blue events.
Achievement ribbons can be earned for acquiring individual volunteer hours outside of Civil Air Patrol.
I know many states require volunteer hours on transcripts and this always looks good on college applications!
Liz also has earned many, many volunteer hours as a Red Cross volunteer at our local hospital, working in the medical laboratory and maternity ward.
Cadets are expected to maintain physical fitness standards.
Cadets are measured each month in the following exercises:
- The Sit and Reach tests flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.
- Curl Ups test abdominal strength and endurance.
- Push Ups test upper body strength and endurance.
- The Mile Run or Shuttle Run tests heart and lung endurance.
Monthly PT tests ensure cadets can make rank and be physically fit. See physical fitness requirements.
The time spent and learning achieved during monthly physical fitness training and testing combined with weekly drill along with personal fitness and health education can easily be translated into a PE credit on a high school transcript.
Today’s cadets are tomorrow’s aerospace leaders. Through its Cadet Program, Civil Air Patrol transforms youth aged 12 to 20 into responsible citizens.
What’s CAP like?
Liz describes what Civil Air Patrol is like:
We learn leadership. In the States, you can do Orientation flights with real airplanes. We get to shoot real guns or do simulator activities. I earned a sharpshooter badge from the NRA. At age 16, you can do real search and rescues. Before that, there are mock-ups for practice. We get to do drill: march and look professional. It’s great experience if you plan to join the military.
What’s the time commitment? What do the cadets have to do on their own time?
Squadron meetings are held weekly. Cadets are expected to study to take tests to achieve rank. Extra activities are encouraged, but optional. Encampment is required to become an officer.
More information about Civil Air Patrol:
Air Force “Blues” and camouflage “BDU” uniforms are usually provided by the squadron. Some accessories need to be purchased, like reflector belts and Camelbaks, undershirts and socks within regs, achievement ribbons and rank, and uniform accessories for officers.
Hair and fingernails must be within CAP regulations.
Cadets can excel and earn academic scholarships.
The online cadet resource library provides tips, tools, and information.
Annual membership dues vary by location. I think it’s a small price to pay for so many benefits! Some squadrons do fundraising for special events and encampment costs.
Find a Civil Air Patrol squadron near you! Find out how to join Civil Air Patrol. It’s not just for military kids. Most squadrons are near Air Force bases, but anyone can join. (Also, if your student decides to join CAP, message me for my daughter’s CAP ID number so she gets recruitment credit! Thanks!)
Read about our Cadet Airman’s first month.
See how we Homeschool High School.