Civil Air Patrol trains Cadets at Camp Atterbury

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By John Crosby, Writer/ Photographer, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

Motivated ‘yes, sirs’, accompanied by cheers, screams and yells echoed over Camp Atterbury’s obstacle course August 5 as more than 60 cadets, ages 12 through 21, wearing sharply creased green camouflaged uniforms, black t-shirts and mirror polished boots negotiated rope towers, high walls and balance beams.

Civil Air Patrol Cadets negotiate the conditioning course at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana, part of their annual encampment training.
Civil Air Patrol Cadets negotiate the conditioning course at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana, part of their annual encampment training. CAP cadets complete their encampment to gain experience in their field, similar to the Army’s Basic Combat Training. (U.S. Army Photo by John Crosby)

The encampment program is designed to mentor young Civil Air Patrol Cadets to give them a positive outlet to learn about aviation, military customs and give them a feeling of real camaraderie between peers as they spend a week training together. Ultimately, the goal is to take the lessons learned and apply them to life, giving these young volunteers an advantage for the future when looking for a career in the military, business, civic or government services.

Civil Air Patrol Cadets work together to overcome a wall at the conditioning course at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana, part of their annual encampment training.
Civil Air Patrol Cadets work together to overcome a wall at the conditioning course at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana, part of their annual encampment training. The cadets, ages 12 through 21, practice team building, physical fitness and character development while training with the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. (U.S. Army photo by John Crosby)

Carson also works as a teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence for kindergarteners through 12th grade and is working to get a Civil Air Patrol cadet program there.

“I never served in the military,” said Carson. “This gives me the opportunity to give back to our nation and serve our country in some way. Teaching kids and mentoring these cadets makes my legacy.”

Camp Atterbury’s air field, obstacle courses and spacious training areas gave them the environment needed to operate their eight-day encampment.

The cadets conducted hands on aerospace training flying in Cessna 172 and 182 airplanes to and from Camp Atterbury’s airfield, built teamwork while overcoming hurdles on one of Camp Atterbury’s obstacle courses, and held drug abstinence workshops where they wrote and performed skits in support of their lesson plan.

Also, true to their military roots, the cadet’s were trained to conduct military drill-and-ceremony, or marching techniques, hold formations and report to their commanders, accounting for their ranks.

“It’s about mentoring our future leaders,” said Indiana Wing Inspector General and 2010 Summer Encampment Commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Young. Previously, Young was a mechanic in the 101st Airborne Division and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. “This gives me a way to continue to serve my country. You see these cadets come in at 12 years old and watch their skills and maturity level develop. Ten percent of military academies are filled up with our cadets.”

The Civil Air Patrol is actually an official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, formed in 1941 due to shipping routes coming under attack by German U-Boats off the shores of the U.S. East Coast. It protected shipping along both U.S. coasts and was credited for defending hundreds of attacks on Allied shipping. Some planes were outfitted with weapons and the CAP successfully sank two enemy submarines.

Tasked by Congress, the Civil Air Patrol is tasked with three primary missions; training cadets, aerospace education and emergency services. Today, the organization has more than 56,000 active members and approximately 1 million cadet alumni. It works as a national response unit. The first civilian aircraft allowed in the skies after the attacks on 9/11 were civil air patrol, conducting reconnaissance over ground zero in New York. They delivered water and supplies in support of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath and are currently providing support in the BP oil spill.

The encampment is one of the first phases in reaching the maturity level required to participate in those types of responses. These young cadets are part of the next generation of Civil Air Patrol tradition.

“I honestly don’t think I’d be where I’m at today at all without Civil Air Patrol because just the leadership, maturity and the interaction you get with other people is incredible,” said 20-year-old Cadet Lt. Col. Abbey Torkelson of Walton, Ind., part of the Civil Air Patrol program for nearly nine years. “I don’t know where I’d be without it.”

By John Crosby, Writer/ Photographer, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs