How To Energize your Squadron Meetings in 1 Week
Posted on August 1, 2023 at 9:12 AM by Alfred Flateau
Step 1: Bring the cadets to the Encampment.
Step 2: Let them simmer for 1 week.
Step 3: Have an energetic and engaging Squadron meeting.
It’s the late 90’s and I am a very eager airman in my small Composite Squadron in upstate New York. I am being told about encampment and wondering why anyone would want to go away to do CAP things for a week. Summer comes and my best friend who I just recruited into CAP, disappears off to New York Wing Encampment.
When my best friend comes back all he talks about is his Foxtrot Firewalkers and what great things they did. He shows me the new drill movements he learned and the pictures of all the great friends he made. Well, I am not going to miss out on something that cool, so the next summer I sign up for encampment and become a Charlie Chiller.
I have specific memories that still stick with me today nearly 25 years later. I recall my flight sergeant and my flight commander being awesome leaders. I remember that one jerk that is must be assigned to every flight. I remember being frustrated and reaching out to a trusted senior member for support. Most importantly, I remember the conversation I had with my mom on the 2-hour journey home.
Mom: “So, what happened?”
Me: (Insert Every Detail About Encampment Here)
Mom: “No, I mean what happened to you? You are all grown up and different. More energetic, more mature.”
Me: (Insert Unaware Teenage Response Here)
In just the brief pickup and car ride she had noticed something that I was not aware of. A kind of transformation or growing up that encampment had facilitated.
Fast forward to the present. I am a parent, a new senior member, a new squadron commander of a new squadron in upstate New Hampshire. In our squadron we are mostly strangers who came together because we had a common interest, we like planes and the idea of CAP. I have 6 very eager airmen (one of which is my daughter) and I am telling them how awesome encampment will be. They look at me with apprehension, and probably wonder why I would encourage them to go away for a week.
These 6 cadets are cooperative and motivated around squadron activities. They march, salute, and attend formations. We meet, I talk, they listen, we do some activities, and before we know it the meeting is over. Standard squadron meetings.
Last week, 5 of them went off to encampment (my daughter included). I attended graduation and spoke with a couple of our cadets. I immediately saw what my mom saw 25 years ago. Something had changed in them.
Me: “So, what happened?”
Daughter: (Excitedly Insert Every Detail About Cadet Last Name Here)
Me: “I mean what happened with you?”
Daughter: (Insert Every Detail About Encampment Here)
Me: “No, I mean about your personality and attitude.”
Daughter: “I don’t know, encampment was tough, but I guess I had fun...”
Yesterday, during our weekly meeting we were holding a reflective debriefing on encampment. In the past I would have 2 or 3 cadets do most of the talking while a couple listen quietly on the side. Yesterday was not typical.
Each of them was eager and excited to talk about each of their experiences. Most of them were in different flights from another, but their stories intermingled in a web of inside jokes and interactions with other cadets. They joked with each other, they regaled their “war stories”, and interacted on a level I had not seen before. We begrudgingly did a PT test, and in between events they were still talking about encampment. We closed with formation and instead of immediately leaving they stayed around and still talked about encampment.
On the ride home I spoke with my daughter about the meeting.
Me: “You seem to be getting along with your wingmen really well.”
Daughter: “I just love our squadron! We have the best people.” (Insert Random Detail About Encampment Here)
Thank you CAP Encampment!
SM AJ Flateau