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Coronavirus & Keeping Cadets Engaged

Posted on March 16, 2020 at 3:06 PM by Curt LaFond

Nearly all in-person cadet operations, worldwide, are on hold for the first time in our 77-year history. During this pause that extends at least until 11 May, the Cadet Program’s main goal for itself is to maintain cadets’ interest in CAP. When the “all clear” sounds, we want every cadet to return to active status. That challenge will not be easy. Weekly squadron meetings are like a dose of “Air Force blue.” Going without that dose for several weeks could be like a slow goodbye to cadet life.

The National Cadet Team, in cooperation with the CAP Command Team, is working hard to accomplish two objectives this week. First, we want to provide squadrons with a practical, recipe-like plan for a 30-minute virtual weekly cadet activity. Second, we want to create reasonable accommodations (and wholesale waivers where necessary) so that cadets can continue ranking-up. Our theory is that a weekly “activity” and an opportunity to promote are essential to sustaining cadets’ interests.

Look for guidance along these lines later this week. In the meantime, please use this space in the Cadet Blog to share ideas on how to keep cadets engaged – how to continue their weekly dose of “Air Force blue.”



Lots of great ideas. Thanks to all who've contributed. Keep 'em coming and stay safe, everyone. - Curt LaFond National Cadet Team
Curt LaFond | 3/26/20 at 1:12 PM
We are using my business gSuite Meet and had our 2nd live weekly meeting. We did a trial run the night before to make sure those that wanted to help were ready and no technical issues. For us the 'good' news of bleeding edge is our squadron's chaplain now at Group and Wing PD is our prior commander. A few weeks ago we began reviewing existing regs on testing, remote protocols, and what has already been approved vs needing reviewed. Remote Wingman and monthly 'regular' Character Dev were our first 'edges' to solve. The good news is CDI already had the needed regs in place. Ironically Wingman was ran in a 2nd parallel Meet to the main meeting. Last night we had 28 in attendance. We were a little short and only did 1hr 45min for the main meeting (excluding the open time and a milestone test.) A couple old, few new cadets, and a prospective weren't on. We run it almost like a regular meeting other than a senior track attendance vs cadets signing paper (or bar coding in). Before or at the start we do a comms check. Instead of dragging a projector in and having different people either plug in a laptop or bring up their 'thing' on the prior presenter's machine, we just share our screen [big plus]. We do cadet oath, pledge, and keep a mostly normal schedule. We can't (not yet ;) ) figure out how to do opening/closing formations. A few 'hints': - CAP Jeopardy was fun last night and a great way to have interaction at the end of the meeting. - After the meeting, we then left the meeting open with a couple seniors in the room while the cadets stayed connected. There was a lot of conversation, laughter, etc. We did our first (and maybe for Group (Wing?)) Milestone test last night. Our notes/feedback to Group: Simple summary is we have a meeting open to the cadet testing and can see both his screen and his face fullscreen. It works well with multiple monitors. My only issue was for some reason I didn't have a 'give remote control' in the first option where the cadet accessed one of my virtual desktops. So I am watching their screen and see their face. Interesting because he has glasses I can see both eye motion and what he also sees on his screen. The 'critical' would be to share the cadet's entire desktop vs a single window. If they wrote/taped to the monitor, we would see where they glanced. [It's actually kind of cool to read the question and see how long each choice is dwelt on.] A 'simple' way we talked about would include a parent in the room as we talked about this weekend. A big thanks to 2d Lt Parnin as well as Group/Wing's help validating the above process as we continue to test and improve. Maybe this helps someone. Don't be afraid... [this coming from some who has done ~10yr fulltime remote and 22+yr with some travel+remote.]
2d Lt Jeff Buhrt GLR-IN-206 | 3/25/20 at 10:08 AM
We have now had 2 meetings using the Google MEET program. Once we got the bugs worked out as to how people should position themselves it worked well. After the meeting I was able share a screen and have a cadet take the Wright Brothers test. I had a printed copy of the test and circled the answers he gave. It worked well. For future meetings we are going to try and do some of the ground team preparatory tasks. It seems like we never have time to do a lot of ES training during our face-to-face meetings so this should help. I also encouraged cadets to get the ICUT videos/quizzes, IS 100 and 700 completed.
BJ Carlson | 3/25/20 at 9:59 AM
As an Aerospace Officer, I have requested our Squadron Commander to have our Cadets do the National Weather Service SkyWarn training class which is used during convective weather and periods of high snow accumulations in our area ( Western New York ). This class is normally a workshop attendance which we had planned to attend but since those classes are cancelled, they have created the online class. These are listed on your local NWS sites, if they offer them http://WWW.WEATHER.GOV/*** ***= Local NWS Office (in our case it is BUF for Buffalo, New York ) the link would be http://WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BUF Once completed, they become an "Offical" SytWarn Spotter for the NWS during times of Severe Weather and are actually told in the printed forecast that they are needed and to report any Severe Weather..... A great Aerospace Activity....... Hope they have fun with this.... Maj William Holland NER-NY253 Batavia Composite Squadron Aeropspace Education Officer
Maj William Holland | 3/23/20 at 9:11 AM
We are going to have the CC and CDC will either meet with the cadet and their parent or travel to the cadet's home to do milestone testing, as long as the family is well. This still falls under the guidance of less than 10 people in a meeting. We will set up a computer in a larger room so that we can observe the 6' radius from one and other. PT testing is the same. The guidance that we saw yesterday from our Wing was that we could meet outdoors in groups of 10 or less as long as we were observing social distancing recommendations. Hope that helps you all. I know you all are a big help to us too!
Robin Haight | 3/19/20 at 10:36 AM
The biggest obstacle to overcome in this situation is drill testing. Given social distancing, this challenge is what will hold back Phase I and II cadets the most. Looking forward to flexible solutions that help our cadets not be firewalled from advancing while balancing development. Our unit did its first set of virtual meetings on 3/17 and had high engagement. We're working through different challenges for cadets to be a part of during this time. We've also instituted specific Wingman Groups of 3-4 cadets for additional safety net accountability.
Mary Albright | 3/18/20 at 7:27 AM
We tried using the Google Hangouts Meet program to do a short meeting. It worked fairly well but we need to tweak how participants have their computers set up (background, lighting, etc.). Not sure how this would work for large groups - we are a small squadron.
BJ Carlson | 3/17/20 at 11:09 PM
It is important to keep up communication and encourage one another. Consider developing a chat room or using an app for group communicating. Develop a form of competition or game that involves testing/teaching. Set up a Go to Meeting or Skype to allow cadets to present their essays or lessons as well as a time for CDI. Do review boards via Skype or other form of video chat. Challenge each cadet to reach out to their wingman to encourage them and challenge them to stay busy. Establish a regular time to meet virtually either as a group or with mentors to discuss things whether about CAP or life.
amber cranford | 3/17/20 at 8:47 AM
Our Squadron had a bit of heads up because we had already cancelled in-person meetings 3 days before the guidance came from NHQ. Our state has been at the forefront of the response. Luckily, we have AMAZING Wing Staff who will be hosting GoToMeetings each night of the week so we can have one big meeting for ALL squadrons who normally meet each night. Prior to that information coming down though, my plan was that we would continue to meet one hour per week, all via teleconferencing. And try to maintain the same schedule. The first week of the month would be AE and though we wouldn't be able to do as many hands-on activities as we normally do, I had faith that our Cadet and SM AE staff would come up with fun lessons. The second week would be ES training. The third, CD Forums facilitated by our Chaplain and the fourth we were still going to try to do PT. My plan was that the cadets would do their pushups and curlups on cam while SM's supervised, but I was hoping there was guidance coming that the mile run could be waived or monitored by a parent. The biggest obstacle we were trying to overcome was Milestone tests (which we were going to use 2 seniors in a teleconference with the cadet to monitor the cadet and utilizing remote access for the proctor to enter their credentials) and Drill Tests - which I was at a total loss for. Either way, my number one goal after health and safety of our members is to ensure we keep our cadets engaged! It's going to be a challenge, but one I hope we can accomplish.
Eddie Walter | 3/17/20 at 3:21 AM
To whom it may concern, I am C/Lt Col Swali, a cadet in NYWG. I understand that everyone is in a tough place right now due to the outbreak. I am attempting to offer some comments that I hope may assist in this situation. I have done some research, and I believe that "Zoom" and "Google Hangouts Meet" are two ideas for virtual platforms for meetings that are free. There are many more as well. It may take some work, but squadrons may want to research further and see if these platforms may be beneficial at all. In terms of activities or any other support, CACs may be quite beneficial during this time. Some CACs already use virtual platforms and may be able to offer their groups, wings, and regions support or suggestions. In re-evaluating the current situation, squadrons may want to consider the degree of implementation of a self-study program, such as the independent study program currently used for cadets abroad (see CAPR para 1.8.2 and CAPF 60-85). However, squadrons attempting to implement this program will have to follow the guidance of their local groups, wings, and regions, and even NHQ to determine the degree of implementation. I have not even looked at this further aside from my knowledge that it exists and a brief glance, so I am not sure of its capabilities. This is all I have for now. I do hope that I have not overstepped my bounds as a cadet, but instead, have offered some insight as to possible solutions to a complicated challenge. V/R C/Lt Col Swali
C/Lt Col S. Swali, CAP | 3/16/20 at 4:29 PM
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