Last week, three of our children and a friend flew with the Civil Air Patrol for several hours. Each cadet was the co-pilot for one hour, and in the back of the airplane for one hour. The pilot, a CAP volunteer, taught them about flying as they flew over farmland, beaches, and our house.
The cost to us? Free.
The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. The cadets (kids between the age of 12-19) attend weekly meetings to learn about leadership, aeronautics, and drills. They are not enrolled in the military and can leave at will and move in the studies at their own pace.
Our eldest son has been in the Civil Air Patrol for four years. He has been part of many activities including attending three years of emergency services school, placing wreaths on veterans graves at Christmas, participating in a week-long encampment, touring the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, and flying on several flights, including one with the Hurricane Hunters.
Readers tell me that different squadrons have different activities and different annual fees. Our cost is $31 annually per child, which includes an Air Force style ‘dress blues’ uniform (shirt, cap, pants), a large textbook on aeronatics, and a binder. We purchased our own BDUs (the camo uniform, above), name tags and badges, and shoes. Most activities are free, but some larger projects (such as a week-long encampment) cost a nominal fee. Every activity is voluntary.
The CAP has been a positive experience for our 17yo son and our 15yo daughter. They have other priorities, such as Police Explorers (him) and dance (her), so they have not worked on being a high ranking officer, but in the CAP, it’s fine to move slowly. The leadership skills they have gained have been especially valuable.