Air Force opens door to aviation and learning for more than 1,000 American youth

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Grant allows disadvantaged Civil Air Patrol cadets to attend summer wing encampments

Summer aviation-related educational opportunities that were out of reach became reachable this year for more than 1,000 American young people, in large part courtesy of a grant from the U.S. Air Force.

Through the Cadet Encampment Assistance Program, Civil Air Patrol cadets who would have a difficult time covering the costs for attending their wings’ encampments received help to pay for lodging, meals, uniforms, transportation and other related costs. In the past, financially disadvantaged cadets may have received scholarships through donations, generally from individual CAP adult members. But this year, funds from the Air Force have created a centralized program and significantly increased the number of cadets being served. As a result, the usual summer encampment attendance has jumped from 5,000-6,000 to as much as 7,000.

Encampments are week-long learning academies. Held across the country and in Puerto Rico, encampments are big events in cadets’ lives, providing ways for the cadets to advance in rank, with classes in leadership, physical fitness and life skills. This year’s curriculum emphasizes character development and education in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“While there are still many financially needy cadets un-served, this has gone a long ways to allow some young Americans to experience aviation in a way they never would have if not for this initiative,” said Daniel R. Sitterly, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

“The Air Force grant has significantly increased the number of cadets who can attend summer programs,” said Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, CAP’s national commander. “Historically cadets who attend encampments achieve more and advance further in the CAP Cadet Program. They learn valuable leadership skills among others and use these skills to mentor the next generation of cadets. This learning experience is very important for the cadets, their families, their communities, CAP, and, in years down the line, for America.”

CEAP assistance is available primarily to first-time attendees participating in a summer 2015 program and cadets apply online through CAP’s eServices software. Complete information is available at http://www.capmembers.com /ceap.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for the past 73 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit http://www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

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Steve Cox

Julie DeBardelaben
Civil Air Patrol
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