Last Thursday, February 13, 2020, cadets with the Pocatello Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) each sat at a laptop computer as Lieutenant Mike Smith led them through a lesson in basic coding. The class is just one of the several opportunities that the cadets, local middle and high school students from Pocatello and Chubbuck, have to help prepare themselves for college and careers through the organization.
Perhaps the greatest educational bargain in the country, with dues/uniform fees of about $100 annually, CAP, through their cadet program, provides young people from the ages of 12 to 18 with exceptional educational and leadership opportunities. Besides learning computer coding, part of the STEM education all cadets receive, cadets take classes in aerospace, leadership, character development, and physical fitness. One of the biggest attractions for the cadets is the opportunity that they have to learn to fly small airplanes and gliders.
Established in 1942, the mission of the CAP Cadet Program is to, “transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders.” To accomplish this mission, CAP cadets participate in a 2-hour squadron meeting each week, plus one “Saturday” event monthly and one week-long encampment in summer. Nationwide, about 25,000 young people participate in the program. While CAP is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, cadets have no military obligation because of their participation. Even so, those who are interested in a military career find their opportunity to pursue that goal greatly enhanced. Just under 10% of U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were formerly CAP cadets.
Locally, the Pocatello Composite Squadron (i.e., a squadron with both an adult section, whose members are involved in search and rescue and other missions, and a cadet section) meets every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the CAP building, 1498 Thunderbolt Street, on the Pocatello Airport grounds. The Squadron is led by Captain Mitzi Breshears, with all activities supervised by CAP adult volunteers who, having gone through background checks, supervise and mentor the cadets.
Both young people and adults who are interested in learning more about CAP, and all it has to offer, are invited to schedule a visit to a meeting by contacting Captain Breshears through the Pocatello Composite Squadron Facebook page, here:
You can also visit their website at: https://pocatello.cap.gov/