(Fremont County, WY) – C/1 st Lt Clark Bailey, Cadet Commander of the Wind River Composite Squadron, recently attended the Joint Dakota Encampment. This is one of the core Civil Air Patrol cadet programs and is hosted by both North Dakota and South Dakota Wings.
Cadets develop leadership skills, investigate careers relating to aerospace, commit to a habit of regular physical exercise, and solidify their moral character during this program. Their vision is “An immersion into the full opportunities and challenges of cadet life.”
Encampment is the centerpiece of the wing-level Cadet Program, according to the Wind River Composite Squadron. Which provides the wing with an opportunity to advance the capabilities of its hometown cadets and composite squadrons. These enhanced capabilities aid with standardizing cadet training within the wing.
The USAF also offers scholarships for qualifying cadets. Cadet Bailey earned a full scholarship to attend the program as well as four other cadets from the squadron.
Program goals include helping each cadet identify their long-term goals. As cadets advance, the emphasis is on further refining these personal goals. There is also an emphasis on teamwork so that the cadets can develop collective goals. The final goal is for adult CAP members to grow as leaders of cadets and set their own goals.
To realize these multilayered, goal-oriented steps, training scenarios based on USAF training practices that are interlaced with STEM-focused activities are utilized.
The Joint Dakota Encampment program was separated into three courses: Basic, Advanced Leadership Course (ALC), and Cadre (staff). The Basic course is largely for cadets experiencing their first encampment.
The Basic course is focused on shaping the cadet’s drill, teamwork, and overall professionalism. This initial course involves long, intense days of rigorous drill with academic and physical training.
Cadets carry their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual with them at all times and commit it to memory by frequent reference and practice. Every opportunity is used to make the SOP habitual to standardize the conduct of the cadets.
The ALC course is geared toward teaching more advanced cadets the knowledge and skills that they will use when they assume cadre roles in the future. It involves the same principles as the basic course, but with somewhat relaxed rules on SOPs. ALC participants are expected to perform to higher standards and be role models for the basic cadets.
Encampment is largely run by and for the cadets, there are numerous positions that cadets fill at this level. (Senior or adult staff positions are chiefly as facilitators and supervisors.) The positions can range from mundane like processing paperwork to decision-making roles such as helping plan the encampment as a whole.
Cadre is the highest level of participation and is a staff position where advanced cadets practice what they learn in ALC. The cadet and senior staff work in the background in their respective roles to assure the encampment program functions smoothly.
While ALC is in training, Cadre is applying that training. There are many opportunities within Cadre to perform interesting and fun tasks. For example, some Cadre work as photographers taking pictures and videos.
At the Joint Dakota Encampment, some of the Cadre kept the Joint Dakota Encampment Facebook page updated daily with photos and videos of the encampment. The parents of cadets look forward to seeing what their cadets were experiencing each day.
Upon arrival, Cadet Bailey expected to attend the Basic course. He had planned to attend Basic Encampment last year, but most encampments were canceled throughout the country due to public health restrictions.
However, the Encampment Commander selected Cadet Bailey for ALC because his rank was higher than almost all Basic cadets, and he had much more experience than the Basics. He wasn’t the only cadet chosen to move from Basic to ALC. Several other cadets were also moved from Basic to ALC with him.
The ALC consisted of twelve cadets and Cadet Bailey had the double challenge of mastering the material normally taught in Basic encampment while filling a leadership role.
The pressure helped knit the team together and create new, strong friendships. “It was a great opportunity to gain knowledge, experience, new skills and tool that will be useful at the next encampment,” he said. “It was a real plus to also make new friends with the other ALC cadets.”
Among the many activities, one of his most enjoyable experiences was the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. His squadron previously held the initial Pro-Marksmanship level of this program. During the encampment, he qualified as an NRA Sharp Shooter.
Several other cadets were flown in a CAP-owned Cessna aircraft over Mount Rushmore. Additionally, those in the rocketry program built and launched model rockets.
The challenges Cadet Bailey experienced were rewarding and helped him better understand how to lead the cadets in his home squadron, according to the Wind River Composite Squadron. He is also looking forward to applying what he learned later this summer when he plans to attend the Wyoming Wing Encampment at Ft. Guernsey as Cadre. There, he hopes to continue to develop both skills and friendships.