Gastonia Composite Squadron
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Cadet Program

Open to youth ages 12 to not yet 19, the Cadet Program is a year-round program where cadets fly, learn to lead, hike, train for real life missions, get in shape, and push themselves to new limits. This is accomplished through a curriculum of leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character development. The program follows a military model and emphasizes Air Force traditions and values. Cadets also have opportunities to attend leadership encampments, career academies, and other activities during the summer. If you’re dreaming about a career in aviation, space, emergency services, or the military, the Cadet Program is for you.

Elements of the Cadet Program

The Uniform. CAP promotes teamwork and high standards of personal conduct through the privilege of wearing an Air Force-style uniform. The uniform and related traditions of rendering military customs and courtesies distinguish cadets from ordinary youth. These military aspects of cadet life are important motivators.

Leadership. Cadets develop the ability to think independently and lead others in an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual respect. Cadets are introduced to Air Force perspectives on leadership through self-paced study, classroom instruction, service learning, and other hands-on opportunities, in order to apply leadership principles to real-world challenges. Adult leaders and ranking cadets act as mentors and instructors to help cadets develop their leadership potential.

Aerospace. Aviation is the thread that runs throughout CAP, and CAP’s affiliation with the Air Force underscores its identity as an air-minded organization. Many cadet activities are intended to instill a love of aviation, space, and technology; provide a foundation in aerospace’s scientific principles; and introduce aerospace career opportunities. CAP introduces cadets to aviation, space, cyberspace, and technology through self-study and group-study, classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and career exploration.

Character. Through academics, service learning, and mentoring, cadets develop an ability to think critically about moral and ethical issues, and develop a commitment to live CAP’s Core Values. CAP challenges cadets to become ambassadors of a drug-free ethic, encourages cadets to develop resilience in the face of adversity, equips cadets with risk management skills so they can fulfill their goals while keeping risk as low as reasonably possible.

Challenge. CAP challenges youth. It might be the physical challenge of conquering an obstacle course, an academic challenge to master aerospace and leadership concepts, a moral challenge to live the Core Values, or a personal challenge to know oneself better and gain self-confidence.

Fitness. The goal of the fitness program is to develop, in cadets, a healthy, active, lifestyle. The program includes classroom instruction; fitness activities such as drills, and games for individuals and groups; high adventure and outdoor activities; and mentoring. Physical exercise is used only to improve cadets’ physical fitness and is never used as a form of punishment or as a vehicle to teach discipline.

CAP is Fun. New friends and great opportunities are the hallmarks of cadet life. Cadets who work hard in CAP reap the most benefits, but the program is not another form of school – we strive to make it fun, hands-on, rewarding, and exciting. With adult supervision, an emphasis on risk management, and teamwork built upon mutual respect, we create a safe and fun environment.

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