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National Character & Leadership Symposium

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This site lists Civil Air Patrol's upcoming Cadet Special Activities (CSAs). It includes national activities and those wing and region activities approved to receive the CSA ribbon. These activities are designed to explore civilian and military aerospace careers, provide flight training, develop leadership, and enhance emergency services skills.

NCSA Registration Status Updates

EServices Registration & Payment System is open for LATE applications for summer activities. Applications submitted in eServices after 15 Jan are considered after all "On-Time" applicants.  Use this "Apply Online" link to access the application site on eServices. Notifications of winter placements went out in December. Notifications for on-time summer applicants will go out on 1 March.  Those cadets who remain on alternate lists after 1 March may be contacted at anytime to fill a slot.

Use the following course numbers to verify you are selecting the correct activity in the eServices preferences tab of your application.  Activities appear alphabetically, but will have the course number next to them in the tab.  You can download a sortable spreadsheet on the homepage for a complete listing of activity preference numbers.

eServices Short Name Cadet Participant Course # Staff Participant  Course # Activity Full Name
NCLS 267 401 National Character & Leadership Symposium
How to Apply:

Use the "Apply Online" link to connect you to eServices' Registration and Payment System.  Applicants will need to complete the application to include uploading the following documents in PDF format to the supplemental tab of their eServices application.  Applications will be accepted from 15 October onward.  To be considered for priority placement status, the completed application including supplemental documents must be submitted by 15 November.  Applications submitted after 15 November are accepted but are marked "late" and will be considered AFTER all applications submitted before the deadline.  

1.  A resume of your achievement in CAP, school, and community service (1 page only) 

2.  A Letter of Recommendation from a teacher or leader (other than a parent)

(You will have a phone interview with the Activity Director after you apply.)

Final selections will be announced by 31 December.

You can find more information by going to the NCLS 2019 website.

Cadet Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old by 31 Dec 18

  • Be enrolled as a full-time college student

  • Possess the Earhart Award at time of application

  • COS, CLA, or IACE graduates preferred

Travel Dates:

Participants: Arrive between 0700 and 2359 on 20 Feb

Civil Air Patrol provides transportation to and from Colorado Springs at no cost to the CAP participants. The US Air Force Academy provides ground transportation to and from the Colorado Springs Airport.

Activity Goal:

Through NCLS's seminars and discussions, Cadets will enhance their own understanding of how moral character is an inseparable component of leadership, and help them reinforce the Civil Air Patrol's Core Values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect.

Why is the character of today’s youth vital for America? The U.S. Air Force Academy’s National Character and Leadership Symposium, brings together distinguished scholars, military officers, corporate executives and other leaders to consider that important question. 

What to Expect:

The Activity Director will provide the cadets with reading assignments ahead of the activity, and the cadets will turn in a project after the event is over in order to receive credit. CAP participants are hosted by a USAFA cadet for the duration of the symposium and housed in the Air Force Academy Cadet Dormitories. The two Academy dorms, Vandenberg and Sijan Hall, are co-ed dorms with shower facilities on each hall. Participants eat meals with USAFA cadets in Mitchell Hall or your USAFA host's recommendation. During the symposium hours, your USAFA host will escort you to main speaking events as well as the seminars that you select. Twice each day of the symposium, the CAP contingent meet. In the morning, we review everyone's plan for the day, and in the evening, we review the day's events. CAP participants are expected to take comprehensive notes of all of the day's events in an effort to offer feedback and personal insights at the evening meetings. NCLS/CAP participants should expect to put in long hours and provide the group with extensive information. A final 4-page paper is due at the conclusion of NCLS. 

Graduation Requirements:

Attend entire 2-day symposium and complete, in a manner outlined by activity staff, a 4-page paper


Previous Speakers have included:

Tony Mendez - The “Face behind Argo”, CIA Agent in the Iran Hostage Rescue

MSgt William “Spank

SSgt Salvatore Giunta, United States Army - Medal of Honor Recipient

Chad Hennings - Former Air Force Officer, Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle

Tom Enders - CEO, Airbus

Derrick Hall - President & CEO, Arizona Diamondbacks

Greg Hall - CEO, Chilean Miner rescue designer

Ross Perot - Businessman, Public Servant

Sherron Watkins - Former Vice President, Enron Corporation, "Person of the Year 2002" by Time

Lopez Lomong - United States Track & Field Olympian

Maximilian Lerner – WW II United States Army Intelligence Officer, Survivor of the Nazi Occupation

Dennis Muilenburg - President and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space and Security

Colonel Leo Thorsness, USAF (ret) - Medal of Honor Recipient, Prisoner of War

CMDR Scott Waddle, US Navy (ret)- Former Commander, USS Greenville

On the fateful day of February 9, 2001, Commander Waddle’s life was forever changed when he gave the order to perform an emergency surface maneuver that inadvertently caused the nine-thousand ton submarine to collide with the Ehime Maru, a 500 ton Japanese fishing vessel, killing nine people on board. Against the advice of his attorney and the Navy’s direction, he took responsibility for the accident. In October of 2001 he was honorably discharged from the Navy and retired from active duty as a commander. Commander Waddle is an author and inspirational speaker.

Dick Hoyt - President, Team Hoyt Retired Lt. Col. Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, have traveled the world competing in more than 1,000 triathlons and marathons in the past 30 years. In 2003, Aron Ralston’s extraordinary human drama grabbed headlines around the world. An experienced climber and avid outdoors-man, Ralston was descending a remote Utah canyon alone when an 800-pound boulder broke loose, crushing his right hand and pinning him against the canyon wall. After nearly five days -- without water and with no hope of escape -- Ralston made a life-or-death decision. He chose life by severing his arm below the elbow, rappelling a 65-foot cliff out of the canyon, and trekking seven miles to find his would-be rescuers. 



Quotes from prior NCLS students:

"The biggest and most important thing I did at NCLS was asking myself, 'Why does this matter to me,' during each lecture. By applying the lectures, lessons, and stories to myself and my circumstances, I was able to learn a lot more than I would have otherwise and the lessons were engraved in my mind."  C/Col Miranda Ellinghaus

NCLS provided a venue to hear from speakers that not only challenge, but inspire the listener to do great things. Each speaker’s personal experience always came back to one thing: it is a great thing to be an American."   C/Col Sierra D Parsons

"NCLS was incredible, and I would encourage everyone going to make yourself open to every opportunity. Experience academy life, learn from your hosts as much as you learn the speakers, and never hesitate to talk to the people giving the seminars in the hallway if you see them!"  C/Maj Ariana Ahadi

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