5/7/2010–Prince Frederick, MD–Twenty five Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior members gathered together in Prince Frederick recently for the first ever Squadron Operations Administration Retreat (SOAR). The all-day event provided training for cadet NCOs and senior members in Maryland Wing's Group III who regularly work with cadets.
Group III commander, Lt Col. Wes LaPre, came up with the idea after taking note of the different approaches various squadrons take in implementing their respective cadet programs. “I was looking for something else that would really capture differences among the squadrons to be able to bring the best that some squadron’s have to others who would have to invent the wheel,” said LaPre.
Cadet officers and NCOs offered presentations on a variety of topics throughout the day including: brainstorming and communication techniques, the Cadet Protection Program, welcoming new cadets and guiding them through the application process, defining goals and visions, requirements for progressing through the cadet program, ordering cadet uniforms and counseling techniques to offer feedback regarding cadet performance.
Members also participated in break-out sessions which allowed students to practice what they had just learned. Hands-on training included: performing Operational Risk Management for various CAP cadet events, a test of observation skills, creating a cadet squadron organizational chart, filling out forms and identifying common mistakes on applications, creating study sheets for testing and proper placement of items on the uniform.
The goal of the training was to prepare cadets for increasing responsibility as they progress into leadership roles within their squadrons and to help lesson some of the burden on squadron commanders. “If we can break up the tasks so that the cadets at the lowest level can help the commander do his job, then the commander doesn’t have so much to do,” said LaPre.
LaPre credits Cadet 2nd Lt. Kyle Higgins and Cadet Lt Col. Jason LaPre with planning the event. Higgins said his goal in preparing the class was to give cadets the tools they need to take place of cadets officers who will be leaving soon. “Most of the staff members of the squadrons are juniors and seniors in high school. Being a leader is training people to take your place when you leave the squadron,” said Higgins.
Participants left the training session armed with their new found knowledge, a training manual covering the topics presented during the day and guidance about where to go to find further information.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug 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 23,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.
More than 1,500 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit www.mdcap.org.