Cadet Parents' Guide

This guide provides an overview of the Cadet Program.  

Nearly everything you would want to know about the Cadet Program, at a glance. 

Cadet FAQ's

Youth members must be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old. 

Aliens admitted for permanent residence are eligible.  Other non-citizens who are legally admitted to the country must request a waiver of the citizenship requirement through the unit they are joining.  

Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities and is committed to doing everything we reasonably can to help cadets succeed.   Keep in mind that participation in certain activities may be limited for his or her safety depending on the cadet’s condition, illness or disability.   Read more about Cadets with Special Needs.

School should always come first for the cadets.  CAP expects cadets to maintain “satisfactory performance” at school, as defined by the cadet’s parents.  Because CAP emphasizes self-discipline, it’s not uncommon for parents to see their son’s or daughter’s grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.

No, you do not have to join the military, but many choose to do so.  Cadets who earn the Billy Mitchell Award may enter the Air Force at an advanced grade (E-3) if they choose to enlist.  The service academies and ROTC also look favorably on CAP experience.  Approximately 10% of the USAF Academy cadet corps got their start in CAP.  But no matter what career you choose, the skills you learn in CAP will be invaluable.

To get the most out of the cadet program you should participate regularly.  Like any other activity, you’ll get out of CAP only what you put into it.  Squadron 14 meets every Thursday from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM, and occasionally we offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer. 

CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP senior members or cadet sponsors) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI.  All adult members also take a Cadet Protection course as part of their initial training.  Visit this page for more information on cadet protection. 

New cadets need one uniform to get started.  Eventually, the cadet will want to have both the camouflage utility uniform (ABU) and the Air Force-style blue uniform. 

Upon completing Achievement 1 and becoming a Cadet Airman, cadets qualify for the Curry Blues Voucher, which covers some of the costs of the Air Force-style blue uniform.  Therefore, we suggest you obtain ABUs first, and then use the Curry Blues Voucher to obtain your “blues.”  

Uniform items may be purchased through a variety of sources. The official source for CAP insignia and uniforms is Vanguard. Shop with them at, (800)221-1264. If you’re near an Air Force base, you can buy uniform garments (but not CAP insignia) at the Exchange or base thrift store.   

Speak to your squadron leaders about local options, too.  Sometimes the squadron has a “supply closet,” and military surplus stores could be another option.

CAP doesn’t provide primary flight training, but cadets have the opportunity to fly in a CAP plane in an Orientation Flight.  

Yes, there are academic and flight scholarships available.  

Cadets advance at their own pace through self-study and group study.  To progress, cadets must (1) participate actively; (2) pass a written leadership test; (3) pass a written aerospace test; (4) pass a physical fitness test; (5) participate in character development forums; and most of all (6) demonstrate they have the maturity to accept increased responsibility.  (In some stages of the Cadet Program, these requirements differ slightly.)

Absolutely!  Some opportunities to share in the CAP experience are:

Cadet Sponsor Member —  Just like any other youth organization, CAP relies on a cadet’s family to support the program.  Cadet parents, grandparents or legal guardians are eligible to join as a Cadet Sponsor.  This membership requires the same FBI background screening process and cadet protection training as the active adult membership.  First year dues are just $30 and renewals are only $20.  As a parent sponsor, you’ll be able to help chaperone the kids, ride or drive in the CAP vehicles, and otherwise help the other adult volunteer members. You will not be required to wear the Air Force-style uniform. 

Senior Member — If you are more interested in taking a leadership role in the Cadet Program, or want to participate in CAP’s aerospace education and emergency services missions, you should join as a senior member.  Talk with your child’s squadron commander about joining as a senior member.  You will need to submit and complete a membership application, fingerprint card and complete an orientation course.  Annual membership dues vary by state.   

Just remember – when you think all is lost, the future remains.

Robert H. Goddard (Achievement 7)