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Increasing Opportunities for Community Service

Posted on August 31, 2022 at 8:58 AM by Joanna Lee

Community service presents opportunity for cadets

Awards program & training tools are on the drawing board

What’s the biggest outcome cadets obtain from CAP? They develop leadership skills. In fact, cadets significantly outpace ordinary youth in the leadership domain.* But do our cadets apply those leadership skills to make their schools and communities better? The cadets say no. In fact, of the many possible outcomes youth reap thanks to CAP, cadets rated that the lowest scoring.

Restated, cadets know how to lead but they don’t lead outside of CAP. There’s an opportunity here. The CAP Strategic Plan calls for us to increase cadets’ opportunities for community service and service-learning. How might we do that?

First, we need to give squadrons some ideas for service projects that are especially suited to cadets. The National Cadet Advisory Council is generating interesting possibilities, so stay tuned.

Second, adult leaders need tools to make service activities meaningful. Service projects ought to help communities while cadets build leadership skills and put the Core Values into action. Look for a recipe-like guide, aligned to National Youth Leadership Council standards on service-learning, to become available.

Third, we need incentives to motivate squadrons and individual cadets to try community service. On the individual level, that will probably entail adjusting the Community Service Ribbon criteria to allow CAP-centered service projects to count toward the ribbon. On the squadron level, service projects should count for the Quality Cadet Unit Award. We’ll develop these three components of a service-learning program during the coming year.

Cadets possess outstanding leadership skills that their communities need. Service projects are a great way for everyone to win.

*Source: Annual Cadet Survey 2020-2021, using the Youth Experiences Survey 2.0 (Hanson & Larson, 2002). Cadets reported (and adults corroborated) their developing leadership skills as their highest outcome from CAP (3.58 / 4.0 scale). On a benchmark report about youth in dozens of other types of organized activities (Denault & Poulin, 2016), the median outcome in the leadership skills category was 2.9. When asked if they use leadership skills to improve schools and communities, cadets rated that outcome at 2.5, while their peers achieved at 2.67

Categories: New Ideas

Qualified squadron service projects should be clearly defined so that Cadets and their families understand when a CAP uniform may be worn.
Delores Konrad | 11/29/23 at 2:48 PM
Connecting the service project to the QCUA seems a bit discouraging. A few cadets can hurt the forward movement that a squadron has made simply because there is no interest in service projects or no time in their already busy life. However, adding a service project to a specific rank (as mentioned in a previous post) sounds like a sound idea. Mitchell is okay, but I would rather see the first or second chief have that requirement-- to prepare them for the leadership they will assume as an officer. If the service is added at Mitchell, the new officer must now jump in to learn that service leadership. With SDAs coming right after Mitchell, it seems that adding community service, as preparation for the Mitchell (via chief 1 or chief 2) might prove more effective. Either way, adding a community service requirement (with an appropriate number of total hours, similar to Eagle Scouts) seems an appropriate thing to do.
Maj Mary Fox | 7/19/23 at 1:47 PM
Adjusting the Community Service Ribbon criteria to allow CAP-centered service projects to count toward the ribbon is a good idea. Cadets are often faced with the time management decision of whether to serve inside or outside the squadron. The ribbon could help swing that decision in the favor of more CAP visibility in our communities.
Jennifer S | 3/13/23 at 10:48 AM
Adding service projects into QCUA criteria is a smart idea. However, allowing CAP centered community service projects seems to go against the intent of the ribbon. The purpose as I have always know it would be to encourage Cadets to turn the core value of volunteer service externally, from their service to this organization as a volunteer, to volunteer service of their community as a whole. Why not integrate a requirement of the community service ribbon earning to a major Award like the Mitchell? The Boy Scouts require this for the Eagle Award (service project), and internally we require the Yeager for Senior Members to advance in specialty ratings and promotion.
Kale LeBlanc | 11/6/22 at 10:45 AM
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