valek_handshakeCadets complete tasks in each program area to earn promotions and awards. A self-paced program, cadets must study, pass written tests, exercise regularly, and demonstrate their commitment to the Core Values.


Civil Air Patrol develops youth through self-paced study of the art of leadership. Cadets learn how to lead through formal classroom instruction and a laboratory of hands-on experience where they apply leadership principles to real-world challenges within the cadet corps.

Through a graduated curriculum, cadets first learn to follow, then to lead small groups, and ultimately experience command and executive-level leadership, earning cadet grade and honors along the way.


During weeklong encampments, which are usually conducted on Air Force bases, CAP exposes cadets to Air Force values and traditions. First-year cadets develop teamwork and self-confidence in what is for many their first experience away from home. Advanced cadets apply their leadership skills while serving in positions of responsibility; the cadet cadre imparts on junior cadets what is expected of them in the Air Force Auxiliary. Nearly 6,000 cadets participate annually at about 48 different locations. Trained adults supervise and mentor the cadets.

Cadet Officer School
Leadership education culminates at the academically rigorous Cadet Officer School, conducted at the Air Force’s Air University. Noted scholars in the fields of leadership theory, ethics, national security and communica-tions provide intensive instruction. Cadets learn through lectures, seminars and hands-on exercises. Approximately 120 cadets participate each summer, with scores more completing similar programs regionally or through distance learning.


Civil Air Patrol produces confident young leaders who think independently and persuade others in an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual respect. Former cadets can be found in leadership positions in the military, aerospace industry, public service and the professions.

Although the Air Force provides most of CAP’s funding, cadets are not obligated to join the military. However, 10% of the cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy got their start in CAP.