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Staff arrived on Friday for 2 1/2 days of training in preparation for the arrival of our Cadets on Sunday afternoon.
Special Visitors at Encampment
We had two special visitors at Encampment on Training Day 2. Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX 10th District) was accompanied by Brigadier General Tracy Norris, Texas ARNG Commander for a tour of the facility and to speak with the staff. Mr. McCaul also presented the Carl Spaatz Award to C/Col Owen Shortt. We thank Mr. McCaul and General Norris for taking time to visit us, and congratulations to C/Col Shortt on his achievement!
In-Processing: The First Step of Encampment
by C/MSgt Anna Attaway, PAO Staff
Today was a busy day for Camp Swift as basic and intermediate cadets arrived for encampment. However, before a cadet begins their training, they must go through in-processing. What is in-processing? It is an important procedure in which cadets are introduced and signed in to encampment. It is a valuable part of a cadet’s journey because it allows each cadet to meet the flight staff who will be training them throughout encampment. Additionally, in-processing helps them to understand the standards that they will be living by throughout the next seven days.
In-processing started the moment cadets exited their vehicles and set foot on Camp Swift. First, they went directly into the dining facility to report to the administration staff. The admin team checked every cadet’s CAPID card and the needed paperwork for the week, ensuring that every cadet was accounted for. Next, the cadets reported to the medical staff. The medical staff reviewed the cadets’ health and medication. Then, the transportation team offered them a chance to sign up for orientation flights later this week. After checking in with transportation, the cadets reported to the logistics team and received a flight T-shirt. Each flight at encampment claims a different color, and the shirts distinguish the flights from one another. After each of these steps were completed, the cadets’ flight staff brought them to their barracks, where they finished the final segment of in-processing: bag checks.
After arriving in their barracks, each cadet found their assigned bunk and emptied the items from their suitcase onto their bunk as the senior members assigned to their flight sorted through them and checked for contraband. As soon as the bag check was completed, the cadets were able to change into their ABUs or BDUs and prepare for their exciting encampment experience.
Although in-processing may seem like a small step, it is vital for every person that attends this activity. It is the first step into a meaningful CAP career, and it is something that every cadet will remember.
The Core of Cadets
by C/CMSgt Max Kowalewski, PAO Staff
Civil Air Patrol has a code of Core Values much like each of the military branches. These core values are integrity, volunteer service, excellence and respect. These core values encompass qualities a cadet needs to be successful not only in CAP but also as a person in their day to day lives. On Training Day 1 of encampment, cadets take part in an activity to gauge their understanding of the CAP core values. The activity was led by Lieutenant Colonel Phil Kost, Director of Cadet Programs for Texas Wing, and Lieutenant Colonel Jane Smalley, Deputy Director of Cadet Programs.
The activity started with all cadets standing in the center of the dining facility (DFAC). The instructors told the cadets to choose one of the core value signs placed around the facility and stand next to it. Once grouped in one of the four core values areas, a scribe was chosen to write down the thoughts of the group about why the core value was important to them. Most of the cadets chose the core values of respect and integrity, with excellence coming in third and volunteer service only having a sparse six cadets. When asked why they went to their respective corners, integrity responded that without integrity none of the other core values could function. Volunteer service claimed that without volunteer service, there could be no change in the world because no one would be willing to help one another. The excellence corner also claimed that without them the other three core values would fall apart. Lastly, two speakers from the respect corner declared that without respect, nothing would get done in regards to volunteer service, and excellence would fail because of the team’s inability to function.
After stating their reasons for standing in their chosen core value corners, the cadets were asked by Lt Col Smalley to walk to the core value that they personally thought they lacked the most. When told to move, one of the most peculiar things happened. There were large clumps at volunteer service and excellence. Respect came in third, but the last corner, integrity, was empty. No cadets had walked to the integrity corner. This result was met with disbelief from cadets and staff alike. Finally, one cadet from India flight moved to the corner, receiving applause from the other cadets. Slowly, other cadets began trickling in from the other three corners to join the lone cadet. The cadets realized that by not fully being honest with themselves and those around them, it showed their own lack of integrity. They were given time to discuss afterward, and gave similar answers to the other cadets that spoke previously.
This activity revealed not only what the core values are, but what they meant to every cadet. This encourages cadets to improve themselves not only as cadets but as people, and to create a positive change to the people around them and the world.
Training Day Four: Another Day of Work and Fun
by C/MSgt Anna Attaway, PAO Staff
Today was another exciting day for the cadets. Early in the day, some of the basics went to the electronic shooting range and the live firearms range, while others worked on group leadership projects within their flights.
After lunch, the basic cadets attended classes that explored different opportunities in the CAP Cadet Programs. The first class was about National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs) and was led by the encampment executive officer, C/Capt Kanyika Mswia, and other members of the cadet staff who have been to NCSAs. NCSAs are training academies for cadets all over the nation. Most of these take place in the summer, with a few happening in late winter. They cover a wide range of interests; there is everything from a powered flight academy to cadet officer school. These activities are amazing opportunities for cadets to pursue their interests and gain hands-on learning experience. The next class, which was about the Cadet Advisory Council (CAC), was led by C/Capt Dava Flowers, who is the encampment’s transportation officer and the Texas Wing CAC chair. She explained that the CAC is a part of CAP which offers a chance for cadets to represent their squadron and make a difference in CAP on a local and national level. It gives cadets a unique chance to earn valuable experience and to grow in leadership. The last class of the day discussed how to become future encampment staff and was led by encampment cadet commander C/Maj Mathias Gilliam, along with cadet deputy commander C/Col Owen Shortt.
After enjoying their classes, the basic cadets changed into their physical training uniforms and prepared to get active with team sports! Team sports are a fun way for the cadets to show team spirit. They played many games including kickball, human Hungry Hungry Hippos, giant tic tac toe, and flag tag. There was cheering, high-fives, and smiles as teams celebrated their victories with one another.
Three more days to go!
by C/CMSgt Max Kowalewski, PAO Staff
What does it take to get an encampment running? It all starts with staff arriving nearly three days before any cadets even set foot on the grounds. These three days are set for preparing, training and rooting out any and all hazards that would disrupt the educational experience for cadets.
Encampment preparation starts with the arrival of the executive staff and a few essential senior members before any other staff. This half day or so is spent preparing training operations and planning classes for the staff that is arriving the following day. The following day the support staff, line staff and standards evaluations team (SET) staff arrives and is in-processed by senior members. The staff splits into its teams, and for some of them it is their first contact with people they have never met before. These teams will work together to make encampment an amazing week for cadets from all over the state and out of state. The separate staff teams then get situated in their barracks and offices unpacking and setting up equipment they will need in the coming week. Support staff sets up Public Affairs, Communications, taking inventories of materials, and making sure that all information is available. Following set up, the staff continues to drill time and class time until lights out to get some rest for the next day of preparation.
On the final full day of preparation, the staff is beginning to work as a well-oiled machine. The staff goes through more classes on important subjects such as training intensity, situational leadership and safety. They also practice they things they will be teaching to the cadets. Line staff practices drill to make sure that everything is perfect down to the letter. SET goes through the motions of inspections. By the end, everyone is ready to provide the cadets with an encampment week filled with education, information, activities, and fun.
The Confidence Course: Ideals In Action
by C/MSgt Anna Attaway and C/SMSgt Quincy Steele, PAO Staff
On Training Day 5, the basic cadets at the Texas Wing Summer Encampment took on the Confidence Course (popularly known as the O-course).
The Confidence Course is part of the Camp Swift Army National Guard Training Center, and is a certified course used to train members of the Army National Guard. The course is comprised of nine obstacles that test the cadets' physical strength, group cooperation, and personal values (ideals). The course is also a major factor in determining which flight gets Honor Flight of encampment and which one gets Warrior Flight of encampment.
The cadets are physically challenged by climbing ropes, crawling under wires, and swinging over wooden poles. All the obstacles on the course are difficult, and require everyone to put in effort to successfully complete them. No one can complete the course without trying their hardest and giving it their all.
Only a cohesive flight can succeed at the Confidence Course. Some obstacles cannot be completed alone and require multiple people. The cadets work together to create a plan on how to tackle the obstacle, then they execute their plan. In this way, the flight demonstrates their cooperation and group unity.
The most important thing that the Confidence Course solidifies is motivation and encouragement. The flight will only finish if everyone encourages each other throughout the obstacles. Everyone is required to complete each obstacle, so the team can only move on when each individual finishes. When one person is tired the team must motivate and encourage them to keep going. This facilitates team building and team unification.
The course also helps the cadets to learn to about the Warrior Spirit. The Warrior Spirit is an Air Force ideal, defined as “tough-mindedness and tireless motivation.” Every obstacle requires cadets to develop the Warrior Spirit. To excel, cadets must possess the mental determination to do their best. Some cadets may have to try more than once to complete certain parts of the course. However, when they persevere and overcome the test, they learn a practical lesson in endurance and persistence. Experiencing the Warrior Spirit in action helps ensure that the cadets remember this important lesson.
When the cadets finish the Confidence Course, they are exhausted but proud. They have overcome the obstacles as a team and bonded together.
Cadet Flight Opportunities at Encampment
by C/MSgt Quincy Steele, PAO Staff
Often overlooked at encampment, orientation flights (O-flights) are one of the unique and rewarding opportunities available for cadets. During in-processing, basic cadets are asked if they want to participate in the O-flights. Approximately 100 cadets are then given the opportunity to fly front seat in a plane and assist the pilot. Cadets are even allowed to take control of the plane under guidance from the pilot while in the air.
The cadets are put into groups of 10 and transported by van to the airport. When the cadets arrive, they are shown a map of the area around the airport. The pilot explains what each symbol on the map signifies and how pilots use them. The pilots explain that they use these maps when planning for their flights.
The cadets then go outside and learn how pilots do a pre-check on their aircraft. They are shown how to check if the gasoline in the aircraft has water or particles in it. They walk all around the plane, checking each part to make sure everything is in order. Pilots are required to do the checks before each flight. Once they determine that it is safe to fly, two cadets and a pilot hop in and take off!
After the cadets finish their flight, they refuel the plane and learn how to tie it down. The cadets loved the O-flights, and were asking on the way back if they could go again sometime this week.