Encampment Cadet Behavior Resources
Posted on July 8, 2022 at 9:44 AM by Joanna Lee
Dear Cadet Program Leaders,
Cadets have spent the past two years locked-up due to COVID, not enjoying sleepovers with friends, not experiencing as many extracurriculars that develop prosocial behaviors. How can we still have a great summer?
Bullying, fighting, horseplay, and backtalk are some examples of misconduct we occasionally see at overnight cadet activities. It’s still early in the encampment season, but there have been signs that cadet misconduct might be more prevalent this summer than what we’ve seen in the past. Therefore, Maj Gen Phelka asked me to call your attention to some CAP resources that can help. Please make an extra effort to emphasize these five resources at your activity.
(1) Honor Agreement. The moral life of teens can be nurtured through social compacts. Cadets are old enough to reason, make agreements, and contemplate right and wrong in light of promises they’ve made. The Honor Agreement (see Encampment Lesson C1 and Cadet Encampment Handbook p. 7) is a tool toward this end. For your encampment schedule this summer, please try to budget an extra 20 minutes to go into more depth about the agreement and the other items discussed below. To make this easy for you, we’ve updated the slides for this lesson.
(2) Basic Expectations of Cadets. Treat everyone with respect. Keep your hands to yourself. Use the chain of command. These basic rules have long been enforced in our community but only recently have they been codified in language accessible to cadets as young as twelve. (See link.) Please have your cadet cadre brief these expectations to their flights, with the Training Officer’s assistance. Better still, invite the flight to elaborate on these points and even add to the expectations to make the list truly their own. This is an important first step to setting a basic sense of self-discipline and respect at your activity.
(3) Wingman Program. It’s the Air Force’s version of the buddy system. More than that, it’s a tool prompting cadets to look upon their mates’ behaviors and help steer them back to the Core Values if they start to slip (see Encampment Lesson L10 and Cadet Encampment Handbook, p. 56). If a cadet is bullying others or being picked on, a wingman can be the first person to notice that in the “behind the scenes” barracks environment, so please encourage robust use of the wingman system.
(4) Open Access to Senior Staff. Most of the time the cadet chain of command is successful in providing the support students need during encampments and NCSAs. However, cadets also have full, open access to adult staff, anytime that’s needed (Cadet Encampment Handbook, p. 3). If you stress the fact of that availability and not allow students to be punished for accessing the adult staff, cadets will have the safe, trusting adult support they need, and consequently discipline will be easier to manage. Please keep in mind that cadets are free to approach the senior they trust the most, regardless of that senior’s duty position. With overnight activities, a senior from the home unit might be the best sounding-board and counselor than the cadet’s assigned Training Officer, and that’s okay.
(5) Progressive Discipline. You make an extra effort to accomplish the above and still you see bullying, fighting, horseplay, etc. Now what? CAP has a tool for implementing progressive discipline (see webpage and the short video there). We want to teach cadets to take responsibility for their own behavior and we’ll support them in incremental, positive ways throughout the week. Please provide all adult staff and cadet cadre a show-and-tell on the progressive discipline system prior to the students’ arrival and/or show the video and discuss it.
Again, we know this is a last minute request. Some of you are just now walking out the door to drive to encampment. Maj Gen Phelka asks that we do more than usual to communicate our expectations to cadets, thereby heading-off disciplinary matters that might be more prevalent this year than what we’ve been used to. If you have questions or want to talk further about this or other topics, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now go have a great activity!