Skip to main content
Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters
Main Content

Recruiting is a Year-Round Process

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

There’s always a push for Units to hold Open House or setup recruiting booths at local events, but let’s remember that recruiting isn’t a “one-time-a-year” type of event. 

In order to keep the flow of members coming into your Unit at a steady pace that is manageable, and keep those members engaged (remember: Retention begins as soon as Recruiting ends!) you need to recruit all year long.  How?  Let’s revisit the “Calendar of Recruiting” setup on the National Headquarters website ( and add some more suggestions:

JANUARY – “Start the new year off right by planning your recruiting and public awareness events several months in advance and preparing for the staffing that will be required.”

*Does your Unit have a Recruiting Plan? 

Have you ever sat down and really thought about putting one together or do you just “wing it” as the year goes along?  We have talked in the past about how important it is to have a plan for setting up and advertising your events, so this is a good month to formulate a game plan for the rest of the year.  Most organizations and community events (such as Air Shows and EAA Fly-Ins) are posted well in advance so do some research on their websites for dates and how to apply to secure a booth space.  Look at Community Calendars…local school events…parades…places where your Unit can hold recruiting events.  Start making contacts now before you get too busy and forget or the events fill up.  Plan your Open Houses as well – in between all these events – so that you are spreading out your events.  Get everything together into a calendar, start pulling materials/pictures/personnel for the events, and let your PAO know so he/she can have it on their calendar to help advertise as the event dates get closer.

FEBRUARY – “In honor of the founding father’s birthday (George Washington), work with your local newspaper and get something in about CAP’s founding and what a distinguished history we have!”

*Start a new trend in your community with a “The History of Civil Air Patrol” month!  If you have members from the community that have been a part of CAP for years, find old pictures of when they joined, interview them asking them why they joined and why they are still a part of CAP and share that with your community.  People relate much better when its someone they know (or could know being from the same community) and shows how involvement in CAP is a worth-while thing to do locally…not just nationally.

MARCH – “Hold a Recruiting Open House at your squadron meeting place. Have nametags, soft drinks and some small snacks and publicize it in the local newspaper.  If people have been undecided on whether or not to visit, this may help them to decide.”

*This is an ideal time of the year if you are looking to recruit new cadets.  They are still in school and parents will be looking for something for them to participate in over the summer, especially if they don’t plan on taking a family vacation.  This gives you enough time to get them recruited by April and through their Curry Award before the summer hits – getting them “into the groove” with meetings and activities so that they will stay engaged over the summer and want to stay active once the new school year starts.  But again, make sure you plan out the Open House event!  Have activities for the potential members to interact with and information about your Unit and activities it has participated in available for display.

APRIL – “Start planning your summer activities since it can be difficult to track people down during the summer months.  Get commitments early and often for attendance and participation at recruiting events

*Everyone agrees: Membership and attendance dips considerably over the summer months.  Either people get involved with family vacations or cadets take part in some of National Cadet Activities and encampments.  Don’t forget you have to keep those who won’t be attending busy with activities!  This is a great time to plan some ES training, O-rides, field trips to places such as Airport Control Towers/local colleges with aviation-based programs, etc. 

MAY“Memorial Day Parades or Celebration or set up at a shopping center that is having a large Memorial Day Sale

*Participating in parades is a get way to get exposure. Many Senior Living Centers will also hold special Memorial Day events for its Veteran-residents and would be happy to have CAP provide a Color Guard!

Recruiting doesn’t mean just setting up booths and handing out applications – its letting people know who we are and that we are in their community.  The more exposure your Unit takes advantage of with events such as parades and press releases, the easier it will be to get people to want to hear about CAP and attend events such as Open Houses to learn more.  Everyone will have a family member, friend or co-worker than they will think about talking to about CAP after they see us in action.

JUNE – “On Flag Day (14 June), have cadets hand out little flags at a heavily trafficked area in your community.”

*Add a simple sticker or business card to the flag with your Unit’s information for them to learn more.

And don’t forget: Your Unit can fundraise for Wreaths Across America ALL YEAR LONG!  The times of year when our servicemen and veterans receive the most attention (such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and Labor Day) are the best times of year to approach people about the Wreaths Across America program…they will be able to “draw the connection,” so to speak, and be more open to donating.


JULY – “July 4th…these possibilities are endless! Parades, Big sales at shopping centers with LOTS of customers, Community events! Get out there in uniform and be visible and make a good impression in your city or town.  When someone stops you and asks what group you belong to, hand them a CAP brochure and invite them to a meeting!”   

*This is probably the hardest month for Units to keep their members engaged.  And because of the weather, most members may not want to sit in meetings every week – so make July your “get out and do CAP” month.  Host some ES training, setup a tour with the local airport control tower, work on your Model Rocketry program, schedule First Aid/CPR training…activities that will be fun to be a part of and yet simple to do if you have a short staff while others are at National activities, encampments or NESA.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

AUGUST – “Back-to-School time! Put up a CAP poster in your school if you are allowed. Recruit your classmates and/or teachers to join. Submit an article to your school newspaper about an upcoming activity.”

*Get the Cadets involved in recruiting!  Remind them that they only need to recruit two new members in order to qualify for the Cadet Recruiting Ribbon!  But make it a goal for them to strive towards: set it up as a “recruiting drive” that they not only have to recruit two new members, but also serve as their mentor through their Curry Award before getting “credit” for the recruit.  It helps the new Cadet “fit in” to the Unit and get involved by getting through their Curry and teaches the current Cadets that its more than just signing people up, its about helping each other succeed.

SEPTEMBER – “Still Back-to-School time!”

*This is another good time to host an Open House….not only to recruit students, but parents and teachers as well. 

Yes - don’t forget to talk to the teachers!  Encourage them to join as Aerospace Education members by introducing them to our Teacher Orientation Program (TOP flights – formerly called Fly-A-Teacher). 

OCTOBER – “Hold a Parent’s Night at the Squadron so that parents can get to know each other as well as the CAP leaders that will be leading their child’s squadron.”

*Partnership with parents is a vital for the success of a cadet program.  Building trust with the parents and keeping communication lines open not only helps keep them informed, but also helps keep their Cadets engaged in the program and spreads the word to attract new members. 

Remember the annual “Safety Down Day” we were required to have every October?  Well, why not still continue to have a “Safety Day” but turn it into a community event?  Host a class at your Unit and invite the community to attend!  You can even partner with your local Fire Department to do a joint presentation.

NOVEMBER – “Organize a group of members to wear their uniforms and attend any Veterans Day celebrations or events and hand out CAP literature.”

*Customize your CAP literature to your Unit.  When recruiting, you want people to know what YOUR Unit will be offering them – not just CAP as a whole.  Talk about what activities your Unit partakes in and include pictures of your Unit’s members.  Again, people tend to be more interested in an organization – such as ours – when the members seem “real”…meaning, they are people they know or can relate to being from the community.

This is also a good month to hold a “Year-In-Review” meeting at your Unit and invite family and friends of members to attend to see what your Unit has been involved in all year, listen to the stories that Cadets and Seniors can share about those activities and talk about plans for the next year.

DECEMBER – “Two opportunities here: 1 December is CAP’s Anniversary.  Try to get something in the local newspaper reminding people about CAP’s founding one week before the start of World War II in 1941. Also, holiday events/parades in your community are great times to show CAP off to your city or town.”

*For Seniors, wear your uniform to work (if you can) on December 1st and strike up conversation about CAP with your co-workers.  For Cadets, have your Unit Commander prepare a letter (in advance) to your principal asking if you can wear your uniform to school that day.  What better day can there be to talk about CAP than the day we were officially founded!  Its good to give a history lesson about CAP but also talk about how we are still serving our communities today…and how they can too.

There are no comments yet.
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field

© 2023 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.