Will COVID-19 destroy the cadet program?

Started by 754837, August 27, 2020, 03:49:20 pm

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754837

What are your thoughts?  Will the cadet program survive the virus crisis?


dwb

Of course it will survive. Things will continue to look different for a while, and we are definitely taking a recruiting and retention hit, but over a longer time horizon CAP will recover.

Capt Thompson

Knock on wood, we are finally into Phase II and have only taken a loss of 3 Cadets out of 24. In our case, we will continue to grow and come back just as strong or stronger once this is all over with.

Other areas that are still in Phase 0 with no hope of getting to 1 anytime soon, they will most likely take a larger hit but will they be destroyed, no. Next year they will regroup, do some focused recruiting, and eventually get back to normal.

It will take a lot of teamwork with other Squadrons though. A unit with only 5 Cadets may be down to 0 by next year, and it's hard to recruit Cadets when you don't have any to begin with, so the more fortunate Squadrons may need to load a few Cadets here and there to help other Squadrons rebuild.
Capt Matt Thompson
Deputy Commander for Cadets, Historian, Public Affairs Officer

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 1 OCT 00 (#11401)

Spam

Yes, it will survive, without many of the current members unfortunately, but the fundamentals of the program remain sound.  Many of the enabling mechanisms (e.g. the broken uniform situation) complicate the picture, and the transient operating conditions (e.g. lack of face to face activities or meetings for up to a couple of years) will prune the membership back somewhat but we've seen that before. Some of us on here saw the membership drop during various wars/crises over the past 40 - 50 years. The viral pandemic, the national level of rioting, and other external environmental factors are transitory and we should be able to weather them.

That given, the fundamentals of the program, with its focus on core values, its commitment to service and leadership training and the elements of the program, are sound. My answer would be different if we were eroding those (cf. the implosion and destruction of the BSA, who at a national level have long since abandoned their core values from Lord Baden-Powell).


In short:
The environment is always transitory, program structures adapt to survive in the changing environment, but the guiding Values should stay rock constant.


V/r
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Eclipse

August 27, 2020, 05:20:27 pm #4 Last Edit: August 27, 2020, 05:26:14 pm by Eclipse
The CP has been, and will be, negatively effected significantly for the foreseeable.

Membership is down nationally over 7% year over year, which includes nearly 2700 cadets.
The inexplicable bump CAP experienced over the last two or so years has been essentially
erased, but worse, there are little to no new members who would normally feed the annual churn
(which has been said to be as high as 40+% for cadets).  That means the waterfall drop
is about to get a lot steeper before it gets better.

The lack of normal leadership experience for a large segment of the cadet population
will undoubtedly cause execution issues for the foreseeable, and the accompanying
drain of adult leaders who might have made up for the cadet deficiencies will exacerbate that
situation.

The lack of extra-unit activities which are the anchor for many older cadets is going to compound
the problem further, and the economic issues many families face will mean a non-trivial percentage
of members, especially cadets, will have to make hard choices of where they spend their money.

Economics is also going to reduce the pilot population and general proficiency.

The rhetoric about their being a pilot shortage, and CAP's role in fixing that needs to
end as well. That's not going to be a "thing" for a long time, certainly not in the next 5 years,
probably 10, as the airlines slowly recover, and which then brings the world to the land of
autonomous commercial flights (as predicted anyway).

The general tone of..."disgruntled"...many areas of the country find themselves in isn't going to
help fix this either.

When a steady state returns, assuming it does, CAP is going to be, at best, much smaller, and likely struggling
with viability and relevance.

It's the type of "Apple Pie and Chevrolet" program that will continue to live in appropriations
for years, well past any legit viability, so asking whether it "survives" is probably the wrong question,
but it's not going to be the same.

Of course that can be said about just about everything.



Eclipse

Quote from: Capt Thompson on August 27, 2020, 04:38:13 pmA unit with only 5 Cadets may be down to 0 by next year, and it's hard to recruit Cadets when you don't have any to begin with, so the more fortunate Squadrons may need to load a few Cadets here and there to help other Squadrons rebuild.

And a unit with 3 seniors who finds itself down to 1 or 2 is lost.

I'd hazard the ragged edges of most wings, where unit have struggled to maintain
charters for years, will be where the most charter attrition occurs.



Capt Thompson

Quote from: Eclipse on August 27, 2020, 05:24:16 pm
Quote from: Capt Thompson on August 27, 2020, 04:38:13 pmA unit with only 5 Cadets may be down to 0 by next year, and it's hard to recruit Cadets when you don't have any to begin with, so the more fortunate Squadrons may need to load a few Cadets here and there to help other Squadrons rebuild.

And a unit with 3 seniors who finds itself down to 1 or 2 is lost.

I'd hazard the ragged edges of most wings, where unit have struggled to maintain
charters for years, will be where the most charter attrition occurs.
We will no doubt lose a few flights that have been struggling for years, but that could be a good thing. Perhaps someone else will move in a few years down the road, recruit heavily and set up a stronger unit that otherwise wouldn't have existed. Maybe not, but trying to look at the positive side.
Capt Matt Thompson
Deputy Commander for Cadets, Historian, Public Affairs Officer

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 1 OCT 00 (#11401)

ZigZag911

Improvise!

Adapt!

Overcome!

This situation is particularly severe, but there are always challenges and obstacles in life.

This is also an opportunity to examine how we do things and update our methods.

JohhnyD

Our unit is up over 30% year over year, new cadets, new SM and new NCOs. Action matters.

NovemberWhiskey

Quote from: Eclipse on August 27, 2020, 05:20:27 pmEconomics is also going to reduce the pilot population and general proficiency.

On the other hand, economics is also going to increase the population of pilots with a whole lot more time to be volunteering on their hands.

Spam

Quote from: NovemberWhiskey on August 27, 2020, 07:33:05 pm
Quote from: Eclipse on August 27, 2020, 05:20:27 pmEconomics is also going to reduce the pilot population and general proficiency.

On the other hand, economics is also going to increase the population of pilots with a whole lot more time to be volunteering on their hands.


That is actually a really great point, Whiskey.

 In the last recession I knew of guys who did spend their suddenly open free time ramping up their O flights. Corporate or airline pilots, other guys just temporarily without a situation, you name it. Win/win - met the cadet mission, kept them current, while using the federally appropriated funds to keep the hours on the aircraft. Considered against the blind torrent of federal money being spewed out without any guidance or conditions, I would say that was a reasonably good stimulus spending activity.

V/r
Spam

Spam

Quote from: ZigZag911 on August 27, 2020, 06:49:23 pmImprovise!

Adapt!

Overcome!

This situation is particularly severe, but there are always challenges and obstacles in life.

This is also an opportunity to examine how we do things and update our methods.

On Target, Gunny Highway! Fire for effect!

That was exactly my thought when I said "adapt to survive in the changing environment", above.

V/r
Spam

JohhnyD

Quote from: ZigZag911 on August 27, 2020, 06:49:23 pmImprovise!

Adapt!

Overcome!

This situation is particularly severe, but there are always challenges and obstacles in life.

This is also an opportunity to examine how we do things and update our methods.
We did, we are growing, we are flying, we are having a grand old time of it.

baronet68

Quote from: Eclipse on August 27, 2020, 05:20:27 pmThe CP has been, and will be, negatively effected significantly for the foreseeable.

Membership is down nationally over 7% year over year, which includes nearly 2700 cadets.
The inexplicable bump CAP experienced over the last two or so years has been essentially
erased, but worse, there are little to no new members who would normally feed the annual churn
(which has been said to be as high as 40+% for cadets).  That means the waterfall drop
is about to get a lot steeper before it gets better.

Sadly, I'm expecting a 25% loss in cadet membership between now and Christmas.


Quote from: Eclipse on August 27, 2020, 05:20:27 pmThe lack of extra-unit activities which are the anchor for many older cadets is going to compound
the problem further...

Not just extra-unit activities, but ANY unit activities.  I've been really surprised by the number of units I'm finding that have held absolutely zero meetings of any kind since March.  Attempts to reach out to those units have been like trying call a payphone in the desert... while they may exist on paper, they have effectively evaporated into the ether without so much as an echo.

Local leaders need to be flexible and think outside the box.  Instead of saying, "We can't do (fill_in_the_blank)!" they need to be asking, "How can we do (fill_in_the_blank)?"  I constantly preach to others (um, I mean mentor others) that we need stop saying "no" and start finding "a path to yes".  It might be a "yes, but..." and that's okay, at least we're still saying yes. 

We are in unprecedented times and need to be creative in finding ways to keep members engaged because "business as usual" is no longer an option.
Michael Moore, Maj, CAP
National Recruiting & Retention Manager

TheSkyHornet

I think an issue you're going to see, if you don't already, is how your Wing and local squadrons compare to your state and local areas.

In our state, school sports are back in season. I just attended a middle school football game yesterday; full contact. They've been practicing for several weeks now. Schools are already back to in-person classes. College students are in their dorms.

But while we're approved for Phase I, we're still rocking Phase 0.

There's no way to compete with the outside world right now. It's dwindling. They can actually go do "kid stuff" again, minus all of the fun stuff that we used to offer in CAP. They're not stuck indoors anymore or out of social interaction anymore.

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: baronet68 on August 27, 2020, 09:01:14 pmI've been really surprised by the number of units I'm finding that have held absolutely zero meetings of any kind since March.  Attempts to reach out to those units have been like trying call a payphone in the desert... while they may exist on paper, they have effectively evaporated into the ether without so much as an echo.

Local leaders need to be flexible and think outside the box.  Instead of saying, "We can't do (fill_in_the_blank)!" they need to be asking, "How can we do (fill_in_the_blank)?"  I constantly preach to others (um, I mean mentor others) that we need stop saying "no" and start finding "a path to yes".  It might be a "yes, but..." and that's okay, at least we're still saying yes. 

I told my Wing leadership on a staff call that I had concerns over units that were not meeting regularly during COVID-19. I was asked as to why I think those units were struggling to meeting.

My response was that I feel that these units have been struggling at their in-person meetings for quite some time, and we're only really seeing the visible signs of it now that there are no virtual meetings. Now that we're actively running promotion reports in eServices, we can see that these aren't just units that haven't had much going on for a couple of months; I see signs of units not having promotions since late 2019.

Their respective leaders need to get on them. This isn't just a "I don't know what to do" since March thing.

Holding Pattern

Quote from: baronet68 on August 27, 2020, 09:01:14 pmNot just extra-unit activities, but ANY unit activities.  I've been really surprised by the number of units I'm finding that have held absolutely zero meetings of any kind since March.  Attempts to reach out to those units have been like trying call a payphone in the desert... while they may exist on paper, they have effectively evaporated into the ether without so much as an echo.

Local leaders need to be flexible and think outside the box.  Instead of saying, "We can't do (fill_in_the_blank)!" they need to be asking, "How can we do (fill_in_the_blank)?"

Has the upper leadership communicated that level of thinking to its lower leadership in your wing? Perhaps in their COVID remobilization plan as part of keeping phase zero not "activity zero"?

Eclipse

Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 27, 2020, 09:05:53 pmNow that we're actively running promotion reports in eServices,

Without putting too fine a point on it, why is this only happening now?

This was and is something I do regularly, and after 20 years, I can basically
spot a checked out member from 50k with nothing other then that report.

Now, to be fair, the alarm bells about this often fall on disinterested ears, but
at least there's no excuse of surprise.

Frankly I think the bubble actually popped late last year, but it's only now
that it can no longer be ignored since there's no churn on the front end to
protect the loss from being visible.



baronet68

Quote from: Holding Pattern on August 27, 2020, 09:18:05 pm
Quote from: baronet68 on August 27, 2020, 09:01:14 pmNot just extra-unit activities, but ANY unit activities.  I've been really surprised by the number of units I'm finding that have held absolutely zero meetings of any kind since March.  Attempts to reach out to those units have been like trying call a payphone in the desert... while they may exist on paper, they have effectively evaporated into the ether without so much as an echo.

Local leaders need to be flexible and think outside the box.  Instead of saying, "We can't do (fill_in_the_blank)!" they need to be asking, "How can we do (fill_in_the_blank)?"

Has the upper leadership communicated that level of thinking to its lower leadership in your wing? Perhaps in their COVID remobilization plan as part of keeping phase zero not "activity zero"?

I live in WAWG but in my role I'm tracking this from the national perspective and the same story seems to be playing out across much of the country.  While some wings are doing a good job of actively encouraging units to engage members and conduct virtual activities, there are a few wings that are doing absolutely nothing, giving little or no guidance to subordinate units.
Michael Moore, Maj, CAP
National Recruiting & Retention Manager

JohhnyD

Quote from: baronet68 on August 28, 2020, 01:48:51 amI live in WAWG but in my role I'm tracking this from the national perspective and the same story seems to be playing out across much of the country.  While some wings are doing a good job of actively encouraging units to engage members and conduct virtual activities, there are a few wings that are doing absolutely nothing, giving little or no guidance to subordinate units.
Leadership matters. Ours is doing well, we are growing and reaching out to our stakeholders and the broad community. Yours could as well.