Youth (Cadet) Membership

Are you a young man or woman who would like to know more about the CAP Cadet Program? Or are you a parent who wants to know more about what your son or daughter will experience as a cadet? Check each section below to view information that’s written just for you!


Information for Youths/Prospective Cadets

So, you’ve heard about the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program from someone — maybe it was one of your teachers at school, or one of your friends… or perhaps you just did some surfing online and found this page. Whatever the reason is that brought you here, you’ve got two questions on your mind: what’s it all about, and is it for me?

The CAP Cadet Program gives you opportunities for learning and getting involved in activities that go far beyond what you usually learn in school. Here are just a few of the things our Cadets do:

  • Leadership Training
  • Earning Rank and Awards
  • Flying Opportunities
  • Teambuilding
  • Hiking and Camping
  • Search and Rescue Training
  • Making Friends
  • Exploring Aviation Careers

All of that sounds really cool. But, you or your parents probably have a few questions. Here are the ones asked the most:

  • How old do I have to be? You must be between the ages of 12 and 18 to enter the Cadet Program. If you are 19 or older, you are invited to participate in Civil Air Patrol as a Senior (adult) Member. Click here for more information about the Senior program.
  • How much time does it take to be a Cadet? Cadets meet one evening per week for about 2-1/2 hours, and there is usually another activity one Saturday each month. Cadets also have opportunities to participate in a wide variety of outside activities throughout the year.
  • Does it cost a lot to be a Cadet? There are annual dues and expenses for your uniform, and there may be additional fees to participate in certain activities. We will be happy to sit down with you and your parents and discuss all the details.
  • Do I have to join the military? No, absolutely not! But, if you are considering a career in the military after you graduate from high school, spending time now in the Cadet Program will help you get ahead of the game. About 10% of the cadets at the Air Force Academy are former CAP Cadets.

If you think that being a CAP Cadet is for you, then we invite you and your parents to visit us at one of our weekly meetings. You will get to meet with the Cadets and talk with them about the things they do, and your parents can ask our Senior members all the questions they may have.

We look forward to seeing you!


Information for Parents

The Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program is one of CAP’s three primary missions. Its goal is to develop young men and women ages 12-20 into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders. To achieve this goal, the program is organized around four areas: leadership skills, physical fitness, aerospace education, and character development. The program uses a military format incorporating many of the drill, customs and courtesies of the U.S. Air Force; this establishes a disciplined and structured environment for learning. Cadets work through a program of achievements consisting of elements from all four areas; as each achievement is passed, the cadets advance in rank and are given more responsibilities within the group.

In addition to local training within the squadron, cadets will also have opportunities to travel and attend training classes, encampments, and participate in other learning activities. Each opportunity adds to a cadet’s experience and further prepares him or her for tackling the challenges of the adult world.

Many of our Cadets’ parents (and even grandparents) also choose to support their child by assisting with the Cadet program as Cadet Sponsor Members. Cadet Sponsors perform such duties as supplying transportation to cadets to and from events, providing additional adult supervision, and serving as chaperones for overnight activities. Your only commitment would be to support Cadet activities, and you would not be required to attend or become involved with any other squadron business. Of course, if you find after being a Sponsor for a while that you’d like to do more, you can convert to a full Senior membership at any time. Either way, your time and support will be greatly appreciated!

Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer civilian organization, and being a CAP Cadet does not involve any military commitment! However, if your son or daughter does choose to enter the military when they finish school, their experience in CAP can work to their advantage. For example, a cadet who has earned the General Billy Mitchell award and later chooses to enlist in the U.S. Air Force will enter with a rank of E-3 (Airman First Class) instead of E-1 (Airman Basic). In addition, approximately 10% of the cadets who attend the U.S. Air Force Academy are former CAP Cadets.

What the CAP Cadet Program is:

  • A structured, disciplined environment based on military drill, customs and courtesies
  • Cadets are trained and mentored by all-volunteer adult CAP members who have been fingerprinted and passed a FBI background check
  • An opportunity for youth to learn leadership skills, develop character, and gain experience to prepare them for being responsible citizens

What the CAP Cadet Program is NOT:

  • Not a military or boarding school; cadets meet for about 2-1/2 hours each week and usually one weekend training day per month
  • Not a commitment to enter the military (although many cadets choose to do so)

If your son or daughter is interested in becoming a CAP Cadet, we invite you both to come to one of our weekly squadron meetings. There, your child can meet with the Cadets and talk with them about the things they do, and you can speak with our Senior members who work with the Cadets and ask any questions you have about the program.

We look forward to meeting you and your child!