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December 14, 2018, 04:07:19 PM
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: Should I become a Senior Member?
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« on: March 03, 2018, 05:07:45 PM »

As I get older I continue to realize the positive impact that CAP had on my development. It taught me a lot about leadership, teamwork, discipline, professionalism, and aerospace. I was exposed to some great leaders and role models who really helped me develop and mature as a person. I was a member from age 14 to 18 and I admit that as a teenager I sometimes acted pretty immature. I did not have a lot of positive role models at home and my behavior reflected that at times. As an adult I have realized that many senior members had a lot of patience with me and they taught me a lot in spite of my attitude. I only wish that I had realized this sooner and that they would be able to see the results of their hard work. As I was reflecting on the positive impact that CAP had on my life I started to think about how I could maybe get involved and be a positive role model like the adults who poured in to my life. The only problem is that when I left CAP it was not under the best circumstances. I admit that some of the issues were caused by how I handled things due to my immaturity, but there were some serious flaws in the squadrons that I was a member of.
First, many of the senior members with kids in the squadron did not try to hide the fact that they were giving preferential treatment to their kids. Unfortunately, I did not have any parents who were willing to be involved. I realized that if you have a parent who can lobby for you then you will have a much more enjoyable experience. I saw people advance more quickly and have more opportunities to lead because of their parents’ influence. I don’t have a problem with parents trying to look out for their kids’ best interests and help them succeed. However, I have a problem with parents who preach integrity and then will help promote their kid over someone who actually qualifies or has done the work. Another issue that came up related to this is that when some of these kids would start bullying others or letting their leadership position go to their head. They would start picking on someone and then order them to do things that were embarrassing just to show that they had power over them and that they were in charge. When I tried to talk with some of the senior members about this and how it was making the rest of the cadets feel I was ignored and brushed off. When I pursued it further I was told to drop it and that I was being overly sensitive. I thought that as a C/2nd Lieutenant I had some influence and that people would listen to me because I was the deputy cadet commander. The reason why I was not the cadet commander was because the kid who was being groomed for this position was one of the cadets bullying and acting in a way that was not becoming of a leader. So they left the cadet commander position open until he shaped up and they could put him in.
Second, I was one of 2  C/2nd Lieutenants who attended drill on a regular basis and I was constantly getting chewed out because I wasn’t able to commit more to the squadron. During this time I was doing Running Start (in Washington this program allows high school students in their junior and senior year to take classes at the local college) and working on the weekend as many hours as I could get. I started working at a local grocery when I was 16 and worked mostly on the weekends to accommodate my college courses during the week for Running Start. I had explained this to the senior members and that I would commit as much as I could, but I was taking college classes and trying to save up as much as I could for when I went to a university. However, this wasn’t good enough for them and eventually I quit because I was tired of everything. I was working really hard to do well in school, my job, and do the best I could with CAP, but to them it wasn’t enough. They expected me to participate in weekend exercises and events that I couldn’t always commit to. I had a hard time at home making things work with my parents and so this added stress was eventually too much.
The point of all this is that I am looking for input to help me decide whether I should get involved with CAP as a senior member. As a senior member could I have influence to create a positive and fair experience for all who were involved or do I bring too much baggage to be effective? I know this post is long and I appreciate your time in reading it. Again, this isn’t an attack on CAP and in spite of some frustrating experiences I was able to learn a lot and had an overall positive experience. I am really just trying to figure out if after 8 years things have changed and whether I should get involved. Thank you for your time I look forward to your response.

Forum Regular

Posts: 171

« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2018, 05:12:12 PM »

I rejoined as a SM last month because I wanted to give back to the organization that gave me so much when I was a youth.
Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2018, 05:42:29 PM »

As a senior member could I have influence to create a positive and fair experience for all who were involved or do I bring too much baggage to be effective?

This is precisely the sort of baggage you should bring to the table. Please come aboard.
Seasoned Member

Posts: 244

« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2018, 07:33:47 PM »

I rejoined as a SM last month because I wanted to give back to the organization that gave me so much when I was a youth.
I did it in 2008 still strong for that same reason “to give back” for the organization that give me a great youth.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Posts: 4
Unit: MER-SC-001

« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2018, 08:45:02 PM »

We were all young and dumb once.  I recall my transition from cadet to senior membership in the early 90s.  I made mistakes and errors of judgment.  It is about maturity.  As a former cadet, I would say, yes.  If you are considering it, you should rejoin.  CAP does so much good.  You just need to find where you fit best.  Not all units are the same, but we are all volunteers here for a purpose.  If something doesn't work out, try something else.  Do work at Group or Wing.  Volunteer for Region activities.  Attend Wing meetings.  Meet members outside of your area.  Network online.  Make new friends.  Go to conferences and special activities.  People will get to know you as an adult member and see the value that you bring to the program.

One final story, from an experienced (wing) member.  Four years ago, I had seniors saying that they could not work with one cadet.  Even though he had come all the way through the program, he was changing and not following through on his commitments.  There was talk of 2B.  I spoke with him and learned he was struggling with the transition from high school to college on top of losing some people very close to him.  He was human.  I saw that.  I continued to encourage him and he maintained his membership and transitioned to seniorhood.  I suggested that he develop skills and aptitudes away from cadet programs, initially.  He is now one of my key ES trainers and my go to PAO for activities and events.  It takes time to mature and develop.  It is okay.  We get it.  Bad experiences happen to us all.  Members will come and go.  Hang in there and keep at it.  CAP does have a place for you.  It might just take some time to find where that is.  Have fun and know that you are not alone.
Lt Col Nikki Shaffner, CAP
SCWG Chief of Staff
Gil Robb Wilson Award #3451 (2017)
Billy Mitchell Award (1990)
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  The Lobby  |  Topic: Should I become a Senior Member?

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