Should encampment be required earlier than Mitchell?

Started by Jester, May 11, 2020, 10:22:04 pm

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Jester

I made a throwaway comment in the other thread and I've been rolling it around in my head ever since.

Are we setting the bar too low by making encampment a requirement to complete Phase II?

It seems to me that the curriculum and objectives of encampment are expressly aimed toward Phase I cadets.  The bulk of students are Phase I and the few stray Phase II students always seem out of place.

Eclipse

May 11, 2020, 10:36:51 pm #1 Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 10:41:01 pm by Eclipse
Yes.  I would argue it should be required to participate as a student within the first calendar year
of cadet membership.

Most other paramilitary cadet programs have a similar requirement for indoc training.

Clearly at some point the encampment became tied to the USAF E-3, which is why it
was CAP-USAF's purview for years.  Now that this is no longer the case, it's ime to reconsider
when it is appropriate to be a student.

There are far too many NCOs, especially Chiefs, in the flights.

This is akin to senior PD, where it's completed well after the lessons imparted would have been
useful.



PHall

What about in a larger wing like California, Florida or Texas where we have more "first year" cadets then we have student slots at Encampment?
Last year in California we graduated 287 students and we used just about every bed we had available at our facility at Camp San Luis Obispo. And this is about the largest facility we have available to us.
But we had more then that number in new first year cadets in the wing.
Solutions?

Eclipse

May 12, 2020, 01:04:46 am #3 Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 01:08:55 am by Eclipse
More encampments.

Once the situation normalizes after a year or two, you're just moving the needle to
when they go, not increasing or decreasing the actual numbers.

Other benefits:

Capacity planning.  Moving it from "if you feel like it" to
"required first calendar year" gives a much better idea as to how many cadets need it in any
given year, and are likely to attend, vs now which is "no idea".

Standardized training that sticks. Catching a first year cadet is going to get
him or her at their most enthusiastic, with the least pre-conceived notions.
"Fixing a C/Chief" is a lot harder.



etodd

Required first year?  So a Cadet joining May 1st has to be prepared to go in the next couple of months or so? With all the hundreds of dollars in uniforms and gear? Even Winter encampment May be soon for many. 🤷🏻‍♂️
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot

Ned

I also support programming a new cadet into encampment attendance based on join date, preferably during the first year of membership.  There are a lot of good cogent reasons why it is probably a good idea.

Most importantly, it would increase retention.  Encampment has always had a strong correlation with renewal. 

Programming attendance would be a powerful management tool for the wing.  They would know how many student beds are required to meet the mission and can plan accordingly much sooner than a demand-based model permits.  In the event that a wing has a hard cap on beds, it would allow Region to coordinate pour over into another encampment.  At my level, it would allow significant refinement of CEAP  and other federal funding.  Our AF colleagues would appreciate it.  But then sometimes it feels like they would like us to lock in final numbers five years out.

My vision has been that new cadets would receive a message from General Smith to the effect of "Greetings, and congratulations on accepting the challenge of cadet membership.  You are ordered to attend The [Your Wing] encampment on [dates] at [Location]. In the event of a schedule conflict, work through your chain to arrange an alternate date or location.  You are in for the a Time of Your Life".

There are downsides, of course.  As others have mentioned, it would accelerate  uniform and related costs that might otherwise be spread over another year.

Given a spring or summer join date, it may not even be possible to get a cadet through the Curry in time to attend encampment during her/his first summer.

Others also mentioned the flip side of the retention issue:  we would almost certainly need to figure out a way to substantially increase the number of student beds. Either larger or more encampments.  Which is resource intensive both in terms of funds, but perhaps more importantly, CP officer volunteers serving as cadre.  Money may be fixable with AF help, but more senior member volunteers is likely a potential show-stopper in the short to medium run.  Say 2-3 years to recruit and train. 

Accordingly, my take is that the SM CP officer shortage is the biggest constraint to universal first year encampment attendance. 

But it sure would be nice to think about.

Mitchell 1969

Quote from: Eclipse on May 11, 2020, 10:36:51 pmYes.  I would argue it should be required to participate as a student within the first calendar year
of cadet membership.


First calendar year? That means January to December. A cadet joining in November will be in a world of hurt.

Even "first membership year" is problematic. If a cadet joins in May or June, with family vacation plans for the summer already set, the first encampment opportunity might not happen until July or August of the following year.

How about: within 18 months of joining?


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_________________
Bernard J. Wilson, Major, CAP

Mitchell 1969; Earhart 1971; Eaker 1973. Cadet Flying Encampment, License, 1970. IACE New Zealand 1971; IACE Korea 1973.

CAP has been bery, bery good to me.

1st Lt Thompson

First year of membership, if you join prior to 1 May, otherwise you go next year. If the expectation is set during recruiting, there won't be many problems. Sure you may have the odd cadet here or there that already has vacation plans and can work with their chain of command to go to an adjacent Wing's encampment or push back to next year. My brother is a Scoutmaster, and gets almost 100% attendance at summer camp from his troop each year, he sets the expectation that they will be going and they go. They fund raise to make it happen.

Another suggestion, which would require a lot of planning and would be difficult for Wings like CAWG, would be to allow Cadets to go for their basic year again. I know I would have repeated my basic year if I could. When I was in JROTC we went to summer camp every year. Staff was chosen at camp, so you never knew if you would be a Platoon Sgt or Company Commander or just a basic cadet until you got there. The curriculum was slightly different every year, so if you went for 3 years you got a lot of drill and PT and basics, but also learned something new each time. You could be on staff your second year, and then go back your third and not be chosen, and still have a blast. 
1st Lt Matt Thompson
Historian, Assistant PAO

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)

Paul Creed III

Quote from: Ned on May 12, 2020, 04:45:56 amI also support programming a new cadet into encampment attendance based on join date, preferably during the first year of membership.  There are a lot of good cogent reasons why it is probably a good idea.

Most importantly, it would increase retention.  Encampment has always had a strong correlation with renewal. 

Programming attendance would be a powerful management tool for the wing.  They would know how many student beds are required to meet the mission and can plan accordingly much sooner than a demand-based model permits.  In the event that a wing has a hard cap on beds, it would allow Region to coordinate pour over into another encampment.  At my level, it would allow significant refinement of CEAP  and other federal funding.  Our AF colleagues would appreciate it.  But then sometimes it feels like they would like us to lock in final numbers five years out.

My vision has been that new cadets would receive a message from General Smith to the effect of "Greetings, and congratulations on accepting the challenge of cadet membership.  You are ordered to attend The [Your Wing] encampment on [dates] at [Location]. In the event of a schedule conflict, work through your chain to arrange an alternate date or location.  You are in for the a Time of Your Life".

There are downsides, of course.  As others have mentioned, it would accelerate  uniform and related costs that might otherwise be spread over another year.

Given a spring or summer join date, it may not even be possible to get a cadet through the Curry in time to attend encampment during her/his first summer.

Others also mentioned the flip side of the retention issue:  we would almost certainly need to figure out a way to substantially increase the number of student beds. Either larger or more encampments.  Which is resource intensive both in terms of funds, but perhaps more importantly, CP officer volunteers serving as cadre.  Money may be fixable with AF help, but more senior member volunteers is likely a potential show-stopper in the short to medium run.  Say 2-3 years to recruit and train. 

Accordingly, my take is that the SM CP officer shortage is the biggest constraint to universal first year encampment attendance. 

But it sure would be nice to think about.

I agree with Ned on all of his points, save one: ordering cadets to their home wing's encampment. Back when I was with a composite unit, we were located in a part of the state where a couple of other wing's encampments were closer or about the same distance as our home wing's. Add in encampment costs [partially mitigated now wth CEAP] and timing, having a choice of encampments was important to have and I would envision would continue to be important.

Since every encampment has "local flavor" based upon their host facility, giving cadets a choice ensures that they get the core curriculum while also allowing them to explore the uniqueness that a given encampment offers.
Lt Col Paul Creed III, CAP
National Headquarters Cyber Curriculum Specialist
National Headquarters Photography Working Group

1st Lt Thompson

I read "order" more as symbolic than actually being ordered to attend. Receiving orders from NHQ/CC would be like getting your Hogwarts letter. ;D  If a CC knew a Cadet was interested in attending another Wing's encampment, there should be a way to submit their info to that Wing for planning purposes, and then their "Official Orders" from the General would have that Wing's encampment listed.
1st Lt Matt Thompson
Historian, Assistant PAO

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)

Ned

The "greetings" salutation was intended to reflect on the draft notices of my youth when many of my friends received similar "Greetings from the President," but regardless of the wording, the important part was to create an encampment attendance default.  And the default would in all likelihood be the local wing's encampment.

In this data-driven age, it could just as easily be the nearest encampment, or the cheapest, or whatever.  But the key is to create an "early encampment expectation" into the system.

Obviously, because of planned family vacations, summer/year round schools, and things like family businesses we would need to create a parent-friendly system to allow location or date changes.

But we bake in the concept of encampment during the first 15 months of membership.

As soon as we find a whole lot more senior member volunteer cadre.

Jester


Observation: we really need to get more wings to embrace the Type B encampment, and potentially coordinate it within a region. 

For example, GLR (just my home region so it's the hypothetical for this, not a knock on anybody) is 6 wings.  To my knowledge each runs a Type A in the summer, with winter being basically 0 to my knowledge (I know COVID is going to drive more of these but I assume that will be a 2020-only phenomenon).  I only know of 1 Type B in the region, offered in April. 

Why can't GLR  have 3 wings do Type B each spring & Type A each winter, then the other 3 do Type A each summer & Type B each fall)?  This offers 12 per year across the region, which lessens the travel burden for the membership and should meet every single type of availability for students & staff. 

Even if some of the wings can't support 2 encampments each year (and some wings can't even support 1), the region can still shoot for more across their AO than just the summer (I get it, it's the highest-demand timeframe, but there's only so many weeks in the summer and a lot of other stuff competing for cadet & parent time/attention during summer). 

SM support is an issue, but I think expanding Type B encampments and adding Type B in the fall will assist this. 

So maybe this means we don't have one massive encampment during the year, but a couple of moderate-size ones.

 

Jester

Quote from: 1st Lt Thompson on May 12, 2020, 01:27:52 pmI read "order" more as symbolic than actually being ordered to attend. Receiving orders from NHQ/CC would be like getting your Hogwarts letter. ;D  If a CC knew a Cadet was interested in attending another Wing's encampment, there should be a way to submit their info to that Wing for planning purposes, and then their "Official Orders" from the General would have that Wing's encampment listed.

Maybe a "dream sheet" (like in the military where you list your desired bases for assignment) portion of the cadet membership application, where a cadet can pick their top 3 desired encampments (I assume there's a way to link the options with whatever encampments are scheduled at that particular moment). 

Cadet picks KYWG in June, ILWG in July, FLWG in December (grandma lives there & the family travels there for Christmas break anyway). 

This drives a notification to encampment staff for choice #1, who has student space available and "accepts" the cadet.  Then the cadet gets an email that says "congrats, you're slotted for KYWG encampment in June!  Do you need CEAP or can you pay the tuition by 15 May?" 

Or, in the event that choice #1 is full, that encampment staff clicks "Nope, no room at the inn", and it goes to choice #2 and the process repeats itself.


TheSkyHornet

That probably won't work with Encampment vastly differing in cost, and cost does not always equal quality of experience.

An Encampment may cost $300 and all they do is drill and visit a museum versus $200 where they go rappelling, shooting, and get a C-130 ride.

Eclipse

May 12, 2020, 05:30:55 pm #14 Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 05:39:18 pm by Eclipse
1 - Encampment tourism should be reduced or eliminated, not expanded. It's one of the
reasons activities have issues getting qualified cadets.

Within the same Region, within a 2-3 hours drive is one thing, but this nonsense of cadets driving,
or worse flying, all over the country for an encampment is ridiculous, counterproductive, and increases the
stress on the already (generally) short-handed adult staff, not to mention raising the ORM numbers
for the participants. (I totally realize this is a hard-fast tradition for CAP cadets - that doesn't make it a good idea for them, CAP, or their peers.)

2 - Increasing the Type B encampments sounds like a great idea until you look at what it takes to execute one.
The recent rhetoric from a lot of wings that they are "considering one in the Fall" as a replacement for their
cancelled Summer encampment is an indication they really don't understand the issue. Not to mention that a venue
available in the summer when it's "vacation time" isn't necessarily going to be available in the Fall / Winter
when schools and the military are in full swing.

As NHQ increments the expectations on contact hours and curriculum compliance it has become increasingly difficult
to cram everything expected into two weekends with a level of integrity the CP requires. 

Can you add a third weekend? Yes.  Good luck with that.
Expecting members give up essentially a month of weekends isn't going to happen
in most areas, and your 3rd-weekend drop rate, for both adults and cadets, it going to be staggering.

It requires a very specific type of venue, with resources such as mess facilities (vs KP), and you can basically forget about any flight component whatsoever, unless the encampment is literally on a flight line, because the transit times, not to mention the amount of time lost to that activity, would kill the rest of your schedule.

A 2-weekend Type B requires all hands be checked in NLT that 1900 each Friday, that they stay until at least 1700 each Sunday, and go from dark to dark with zero downtime. That is the only was to have a schedule which meets the mandate of contact hours. (IOW you don't start with an 80% schedule, which is what I've heard in some places.  That's not how this works.)

Sadly, and this is fodder for a different thread, while I think this conversation is important and should be
had, any ideas that CAP is going to be increasing encampments, or any other "sleep-away" activities in the foreseeable is essentially moot as it will be hard enough to just get back to 2019 steady state.  My personal prediction is a loss of at least 25% of the encampments nationally for at least a year due to manpower limitations and loss of venue.  After that it's anyone's guess as the reason most encampments "are where they are" is because
there's nowhere else (either actually or practically), and that doesn't even account for the very real issues that need to be addressed in regards to
safety for all participants and the venue.



Ned

Quote from: Eclipse on May 12, 2020, 05:30:55 pm1 - Encampment tourism should be reduced or eliminated, not expanded. It's one of the
reasons activities have issues getting qualified cadets.

Within the same Region, within a 2-3 hours drive is one thing, but this nonsense of cadets driving,
or worse flying, all over the country for an encampment is ridiculous, counterproductive, and increases the
stress on the already (generally) short-handed adult staff, not to mention raising the ORM numbers
for the participants. (I totally realize this is a hard-fast tradition for CAP cadets - that doesn't make it a good idea for them, CAP, or their peers.)

Bob,

Do you distinguish between student vs. cadre "encampment tourism?"

I certainly see some potential  issues with providing adequate cadre professional development when a particular highly qualified cadet staffs 3-4 encampment during the summer, but I am far more sympathetic to students being allowed to attend when and where best fits their (and perhaps more importantly, their parents') needs.

Traditionally, staffing has been almost entirely in the hands of local authorities.  If we can agree that encampment tourism is a significant issue potentially depriving some cadets of a cadre billet, what would be an appropriate systemic fix?

I'd like to think encampment commanders already make the best available choices for cadet cadre.  How would restricting out of state cadre affect that?  Maybe encampment commanders favor success at their activities over the good of the program as a whole.

etodd

I'm hearing lots of talk of Cadets not participating at virtual squadron meetings and many Cadets getting interested in other groups/activities/sports/etc ... to the point once NATCAP opens us back up ... talk of encampments will be moot for a couple years or more, as we seek out new members to rebuild this organization. Not sure NATCAP releases the numbers, but its going to be interesting to see how many members do not renew over the next few months.

Retention and recruitment will (does) need to be "the discussion". Encampment issues can come later. (Much later if I'm correct.)
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot

Eclipse

Quote from: etodd on May 12, 2020, 06:46:23 pmI'm hearing lots of talk of Cadets not participating at virtual squadron meetings and many Cadets getting interested in other groups/activities/sports/etc ... to the point once NATCAP opens us back up ... talk of encampments will be moot for a couple years or more, as we seek out new members to rebuild this organization. Not sure NATCAP releases the numbers, but its going to be interesting to see how many members do not renew over the next few months.

Retention and recruitment will (does) need to be "the discussion". Encampment issues can come later. (Much later if I'm correct.)

You literally have zero experience in this lane and NO IDEA what you are talking about.



etodd

QuoteYou literally have zero experience in this lane and NO IDEA what you are talking about.

But wild conjecture can be an amusing undertaking. Time will tell. Yes, I hope to be proven incorrect. :)
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot

Eclipse

May 12, 2020, 07:01:27 pm #19 Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 07:04:56 pm by Eclipse
Quote from: Ned on May 12, 2020, 06:38:19 pmMaybe encampment commanders favor success at their activities over the good of the program as a whole.

This, which is a BIG problem.

The systematic fix is that you have cadets participate in encampments in their home wings,
or home Region at most, and you don't allow the selection of Big-3 staff from anywhere but the
respective wing. I would posit this would actually encourage participation by cadets who
feel they are x-ed out of the running from their own encampment because of "5-year plans" that include
cadets from 3 times zones over.

And no, I make no distinction.  The goal of encampments is not to run encampments,
it's to train and model the CP at scale and provide standardized instruction to help
fix "that's not what my squadron does".

There is zero standardization between wings - heck, we still have wings that won't even adopt
a decade-old set of terminology, let alone all the other tomfoolery that goes on all over
under the guise of "we know better"

Bringing in ringers from other wings deprives local cadets from that experience, to no
gain other then that cadet getting another punch on their dance card. There's no "fresh ideas"
because it's supposed to be a STANDARD curriculum, and the places where fresh ideas might actually
come into play, such as venue and logistics, become moot because the ringers have never been to
"x" base, location, etc.  There's no value in schooling them up on local issues because they likely
won't be back.

I am strongly against what some wings do in "guaranteeing" cadets a given role if they just keep
coming back, but there is no denying that cadets who start as students and work the roles make much better
cadre, especially at the exec level, then cadets who hop all over.