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California CAP trains at Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Civil Air Patrol cadets practice marching while attending Basic Cadet School on April 6. The CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP cadets wear modified versions of Air Force uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Civil Air Patrol cadets practice marching while attending Basic Cadet School on April 6. The CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP cadets wear modified versions of Air Force uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERF AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Civil Air Patrol Cadet Senior Airman Vincent Wood clips strings off Cadet Airman 1st Class Reece Coulter's uniform during Airman Training School on April 6. The CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP cadets wear modified versions of Air Force uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERF AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Civil Air Patrol Cadet Senior Airman Vincent Wood clips strings off Cadet Airman 1st Class Reece Coulter's uniform during Airman Training School on April 6. The CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP cadets wear modified versions of Air Force uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The California Wing of the Civil Air Patrol conducted three days of training for more than 100 cadets April 4-6 here. 

Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force.
The CAP cadet program inspires and teaches children 12 to 18 years old through diverse educational opportunities and programs that teach leadership and community service. 

Cadets from across the state converged on Vandenberg to attend the Basic Cadet School and Airman Training School. The basic school is an introductory course for cadets, while the Airman Training School is for cadets who have progressed in the program. Both are meant to teach cadets about the CAP and its place in their community, state and nation. 

Staying in "barracks" at the Vandenberg Center, the cadets had their days filled with classes and drill practice. After PT at 5:40 a.m., they attended lectures on customs and courtesies, proper uniform wear and an introduction to aerospace education. The intense schedule is a big change for the cadets, compared to their regular squadron meetings. 

"In regular squadron meetings you have formations and then classes," said Rebekah Shea, a cadet master sergeant with CAP Squadron 47 in San Diego. "Every single minute of the day for the cadets is planned out on a schedule." 

One class cadets found to be most beneficial was the teamwork course. Different exercises force the cadets to work together, with one of the cadets being put in charge. This gives each cadet a chance to lead and to follow. Successfully completing the exercise as a team builds camaraderie and helps them overcome tougher challenges later on. 

"It's something they can fall back on," Shea said. "They might say, 'Hey, we've done really bad today, but we did something really great as a team before.'" 

Classes like this also instill a sense of discipline in the cadets, something lacking in some youth today, said Andrew Flannigan, a cadet airman 1st class. 

"I like being in an atmosphere with people who know what needs to be done and do it; they take initiative," Flannigan said. "I like the discipline." 

Developing skills such as leadership, followership and good discipline is meant to help the cadets become more productive members of not only their CAP squadron, but also in society as they become young adults. Cadets say these lessons definitely help them grow. 

"I learn more about myself every time I come to these activities," Shea said. "I'm going away with a whole lot more knowledge than I came in with."