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Overnight Lodging at Cadet Activities


Families can count on CAP to provide a safe, wholesome environment at all cadet activities. Cadet life is a regimented experience marked by firm rules, clear consequences, and ample adult supervision. Most of all, leadership by positive example is our best tool for creating a space where cadets can thrive.



What is the lodging situation at an overnight cadet activity?

Cadet lodging varies by facility. There is no standard arrangement for lodging. Some of the most common environments include: 


Open Bay Barracks  

Where Found:  Military installations

Capacity:  Usually 15-50 cadets per barracks bay

Adult Chaperones:  Typically lodge in a separate space from the cadets, or in a semi-private space located in that barracks bay

Special Notes:  A couple makeshift “dressing rooms” are often created as optional spaces for persons wanting some privacy.

Dormitory Rooms & Hotel Rooms

Where Found:  College campuses, some military installations, hotels

Capacity:  Usually 1-4 cadets per room

Adult Chaperones:  Do not share dorm rooms with cadets; adults lodge only with other adults or their own children

Special Notes:  Sometimes two dorms share an adjoining single-person bathroom. CAP considers age when assigning roommates. 


Where Found:  Field conditions, Scouting facilities, military installations

Capacity:  Usually 1 to 12 cadets per tent

Adult Chaperones:  Do not share tents with cadets; adults lodge only with other adults or their own children

Special Notes:  When small tents are used, the tents are typically provided by participating cadets. Those who do not own a tent are assigned to the vacant spaces.

Hangar Floor / Gymnasium Floor

Where Found:  Airports, military installations, schools

Capacity:  50 or more cadets

Adult Chaperones:  Typically position themselves between the male and female cadet spaces – “center court” in the large open area.


Some facilities offer only communal showers (top). 

Some facilities offer semi-private shower stalls (bottom). 

Private, hotel-style showers are rare at cadet events.



How can families support young cadets prepare for their first time away from home?

Overnight camps are great opportunities for young people to learn independence, self-reliance, and experimentation in a safe, youth-scaled space. Yes, there will be moments of trepidation and homesickness, but every summer thousands of young people learn coping skills and become stronger and more self-confident from a camp experience.

  • Ask local leaders if photos or videos are available that "show and tell" about the activity.

  • In the weeks leading up to the activity, speak about the activity with optimism and excitement, recounting the cool experiences planned at the activity.

  • Speak about the activity in a way that presupposes fun and success. "You can do this!" is a better approach than, "Give this a try..."

  • Find out who else is attending the activity. Mention to your cadet that they’ll have support from that peer or trusted adult.

  • Ensure your cadet has an opportunity to ask questions about the activity prior to departing from home. (Local leaders should provide this opportunity.)

  • Ask local leaders for information about telephone and instant messaging policies; be sure you don't over-promise how frequently your cadet will interacting with friends and family back home. Remember, overnight camps are opportunities to learn independence and make new friends.

  • Parents should not hedge or talk about a “plan B” if the activity is not going well. Do not promise an opportunity for an early departure. Camp directors across America know from experience that that sets the stage for failure.

  • Prior to attending an overnight camp, it's helpful for the cadet to have already experienced a sleepover with family or friends. 

  • Recognize that in many situations, it is the parent who feels anxiety about the camp, not the youth. Try not to allow your own anxiety to influence your cadet.  NY Times link


What if our family has concerns about the lodging arrangements at an overnight activity?

If you have concerns about lodging, we welcome hearing from you. 

  • Please begin by talking with your local leaders prior to the event.  

  • Know that cadets always have access to caring, trustworthy adult leaders who are available to discuss concerns about roommates, privacy, safety, and other sensitive topics.

  • Cadet activities are always voluntary; nobody is required to attend any CAP event. 

  • Families retain the right of withdrawing their cadet(s) from the activity at any time, subject to their arranging suitable transportation home. 

With 30 days' advance notice and some creative thinking, CAP can sometimes accommodate special requests, such as:

  • Allowing cadets to take showers privately, alone in a communal space, just prior to reveille or just after lights out.

  • Allowing cadets to dress and undress in a makeshift dressing room located within a large, open space.

  • Granting families some say in the selection of roommates, when practical, such as when cadets lodge in dorms, hotel rooms, or small tents.

  • Granting a cadet a single-occupancy room, if available, in a dorm setting.


If the local facility simply is incompatible with your requests, families might have the option of attending the activity in a nearby state where the facility is more conducive to their needs.



What is the lodging practice for LGBT cadets?

CAP offers a safe, fun environment for all cadets and their adult leaders. Participation in CAP activities is always voluntary; nobody is ever "required" to participate. We do our best to work with families to make reasonable accommodations for their lodging requests when practical. Some key facts:

  • We do not inquire about the sexual orientation or cadets or adult leaders.  Sexual orientation is not a factor in assigning lodging.

  • We do not inquire about a cadet’s anatomy. Families declare their cadet’s gender when joining CAP by presenting school ID cards, birth certificates, letters from physicians, and other types of documentation. Cadets who have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, as documented by a physician, are lodged according to their gender identity, the gender they are living as. 

Our strategy is to balance two responsibilities: (1) provide an environment that is open to all eligible youth and (2) provide lodging arrangements where every participant feels safe and respected.

Sometimes those two principles seem to be in opposition, but we have found success through commonsense practices, such as

(1)  giving families advance notice of the lodging situation at the facility;

(2)  limiting the need for all persons to dress / undress / shower within sight of others and/or eliminating it altogether;

(3)  welcoming families’ special requests; and

(4)  admitting cadets to similar activities in nearby states if the local facility is unacceptable.


Are lodging facilities accessible to disabled cadets?

CAP is committed to doing everything it reasonably can to include disabled cadets at CAP activities. We aim for maximum inclusion in the least restrictive environment. If your cadet has special lodging requirements, please contact local leaders as soon as possible -- the more time we have to explore lodging options, the better.

When cadets lodge on military installations or in older facilities that are not ADA-compliant, sometimes the facility lacks elevators, doorways may be too narrow for wheelchairs, and rest rooms and showers might not include handicap assistances. Some options we consider when trying to accommodate cadets include:

  • lodging the cadet on the ground floor, even if all other cadets are located on higher floors

  • assigning the cadet to an ADA-compliant lodging space located in another building on the base, but away from the cadet training area

  • allowing the cadet and a caregiver to lodge in a handicap accessible hotel room near the installation

  • discussing with the family creative ways to provide a safe lodging environment, even if on-site, two-deep adult chaperone coverage is not feasible. 

Technical & Financial AssistanceCAP National Headquarters is available to suggest creative solutions and best practices. If off-base hotel lodging is the only realistic option, CAP National Headquarters may have funding available to cover the costs in excess of the standard cadet lodging rate, or may be able to assist with travel expenses to a similar CAP activity operating elsewhere, at an ADA-compliant facility. 

We want to include all cadets, so please let us know what your cadet needs to be successful. 


What can families do to prepare for possible homesickness while the cadet is at an overnight activity?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following practices for families concerned about the potential for homesickness:                 

  • involve the child in the process of choosing and preparing for camp                  

  • discuss homesickness openly, be positive about the upcoming camp experience, and avoid expressing personal doubts or concerns;            

  • arrange practice time away from home with friends or relatives before camp; and            

  • frame the time to be spent at camp in comparison with previous enjoyable experiences the child may have had of similar duration.  

Although homesickness is traditionally believed to affect resident campers, younger children attending day camp may suffer from homesickness as well. Parents should avoid making “pick-up” arrangements in the event of homesickness because these arrangements may undermine the child’s confidence in his or her own independence. 

Reference:  Ambrose MJ, Walton EA, AAP COUNCIL ON SCHOOL HEALTH. Improving Health and Safety at Camp. Pediatrics. 2019.; 144(1). 


Related Resource:    CAPP 1-10, Suggested Best Practices for Including Individuals with Special Needs


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