Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

How much does it cost for membership?

Annual membership dues vary by state.  Please click here to view the membership dues table and look for Maryland. Cadets receive their first blue Air Force style uniform at no cost and will receive a new member kit with learning materials. Additional activities may have fees to cover lodging and meals.

How old does my child have to be to join?

You child can join CAP as a cadet if they are at least 12 years old and before they turn 19. Cadets can stay in the program until they turn 21 as long as they have not entered active duty and are enrolled in a school.

What are the benefits of joining the Youth Program

  •  Community service credit
  •  Flight and college scholarship opportunities
  •  Explore aviation, science and engineering careers through our summer programs
  •  Leadership Skills
  •  Valuable experiences to add to resume/college applications
  •  Orientation flights in CAP aircraft
  •  Search and rescue training
  •     Advanced grade if later enlisting in military
    ...And much more

Are they expected to join the military? 

No, they do not have to join the military, but many do.
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.

How much time will they have to give each week?

To get the most out of the cadet program they should participate regularly. Like any other activity, they’ll get out of CAP only what they put into it. Most squadrons meet weekly for about 2 1/2 hours, and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer.

Can they learn how to fly?

Your son or daughter will have the opportunity to fly in a CAP plane and possibly a military aircraft. CAP doesn’t teach cadets to fly, but they can compete for scholarships that will help pay for a pilot’s license.

Who leads and supervises the cadets?

CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP senior members) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI. All adult members also take a Cadet Protection course as part of their initial training.

Do cadets need to maintain a certain grade point average to participate in CAP?

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.

Why do cadets wear uniforms?

CAP uses uniforms to promote teamwork and develop self-discipline. The uniform motivates cadets to set high standards for themselves and to live their core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect. Additionally, cadets practice military customs and courtesies as part of their leadership training.

What uniforms do cadets wear?

The basic cadet uniform is the short-sleeve Air Force style blue uniform. Most cadets also choose to wear the optional BDU (camouflage) uniform.

How do cadets obtain uniforms?

New cadets are eligible to receive the Air Force style blue uniform at no cost to them through the Cadet Uniform Program, depending on the availability of Air Force funding. See your local squadron commander for details. BDUs and other uniform items may be available through your squadron, but most of the time you will need to purchase the items through the CAP uniform store or they may be purchased through the clothing sales store on military installations.

What's involved with cadet orientation flights?

Through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders, cadets experience flight first-hand. CAP's pilots are licensed by the FAA, follow a syllabus for each flight, and ensure the flight is conducted safely. Orientation flights are free to cadets. See the squadron commander for information about when the next opportunity to fly is scheduled.

How do cadets advance and earn promotions?

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.)

Does CAP offer any scholarships? 

Yes. CAP offers money for college and for flight training. See our scholarships page for details. In addition, participation in Civil Air Patrol typically makes a teen more attractive to the U.S. military academies and to universities offering ROTC scholarships.

Can I be involved in CAP with my teen?

Absolutely! Parents are welcome to participate in CAP. No prior military service or special skills are required. Whether you want to help chaperone cadets once in a while or become a full-fledged senior member active in CAP missions, we would love to have you get involved in CAP.
Some opportunities to share in the CAP experience are:

Cadet Sponsor Member -- Just like any other youth organization, CAP relies on parents to help support the program. Parents do have to undergo the same background screening process and cadet protection training as the other adult members and 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. To volunteer, talk with the squadron commander, who will give you a membership application, help you get fingerprinted, and complete an orientation course.

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. To learn more about becoming a senior member, visit our Adult Program page.

Parents Committee
- Help arrange carpools, plan social events, raise funds, and connect the squadron to your hometown by serving on an informal parents' committee.  To volunteer, talk with your son's or daughter's squadron commander.

Can my child join if they have a medical condition or disability?

Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities. However, participation in certain activities may be limited depending on the condition, illness or disability.