Will COVID-19 destroy the cadet program?

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

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Holding Pattern

Quote from: Paul Creed III on August 29, 2020, 09:19:43 pm
Quote from: Holding Pattern on August 29, 2020, 07:47:25 pm
Quote from: Paul Creed III on August 29, 2020, 06:27:58 pmThe Cisco 15-week Learn-a-thon is getting close to launching as well

Details on this?

Details coming out soon :-)

https://www.netacadlearnathon.com/

CAP and Cisco have a partnership and all of the CAP-specific information will be released once it is all finalized.

I know about that partnership, but if you really want to see that marathon work, PLEASE communicate it at least 60 days in advance to the units. Preferably in an "all members" blast.

It would be a great opportunity to hype it and encourage membership across the board for people with interest.

etodd

Quote from: JohhnyD on August 29, 2020, 08:35:03 pmIf every unit had an ambassador ... "tell the story" for one full day every month, we could be at that level in one year.
 

Some squadrons just don't have that great "ambassador" with selling skills.

But that brings up another issue. Everyone in the squadron thinking "someone else" needs to be out there recruiting.  Negative ... its the job of every individual member to spread the word in their part of the community.  Don't look to others to recruit. Its our job.

Have the 30 second elevator speech ready. And don't just be ready. Look for opportunites.
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot

JohhnyD

Quote from: etodd on August 30, 2020, 12:21:25 amSome squadrons just don't have that great "ambassador" with selling skills.
Check. That type person ought to be your next recruit. A property and casualty insurance guy, a life insurance guy, a vehicle fleet sales guy (guy is a generic term that includes both sexes, see the OED) - go find a team of ambassadors! (Your local Chamber is filled with them!)
Quote from: etodd on August 30, 2020, 12:21:25 amBut that brings up another issue. Everyone in the squadron thinking "someone else" needs to be out there recruiting.  Negative ... its the job of every individual member to spread the word in their part of the community.  Don't look to others to recruit. Its our job.

Have the 30 second elevator speech ready. And don't just be ready. Look for opportunites.
Ding - Ding - Ding!

WINNER, WINNER, Chicken Dinner!

JohhnyD

BTW a "mediocre" storyteller with energy and enthusiasm is worth more than a great salesman that never gets out. Go out and tell the story! 

baronet68

Quote from: JohhnyD on August 29, 2020, 08:35:03 pmOur R&R program is pathetic, with a capital "P"!


You and I should talk sometime. I'd love to hear your ideas.
Michael Moore, Maj, CAP
National Recruiting & Retention Manager

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: Paul Creed III on August 29, 2020, 06:27:58 pmVirtual training (not just Volunteer University) is (I hope) here to stay to expand educational opportunities for the membership.

sUAS will continue to expand immensely as we look to not only expand, but to also standardize the sUAS fleet on an airframe (Skydio 2) that's within financial reach of members and units to have their own kits for local training.

Cyber will continue to expand. The Cisco 15-week Learn-a-thon is getting close to launching as well as access to Cisco Networking Academy for the entire membership.

We'll also come back with renewed focus when things open up again which will bring new members to us.

I think you're entirely correct. We've seen a major uptick in virtual training for senior members (which has been requested for a very long time) and a greater participation by some in traditionally virtual activities (such as Cyber). I think virtual STEM has also been well accepted by many units and their members.

But I do think that we're going to need to see the return (and sustaining) of hands-on programs. You're always going to see a dedicated focus group that's really heavily into the "classroom"-type STEM/IT-linked universe. But, as goes with most youth organizations, the bulk is going to be in hands-on lab experimentation and social activities. The "sitting at the computer" activities have a niche market, which is great. But I don't see that being the main driver of CAP, at least from a numbers standpoint (no matter how much, in reality, those computer-based activities may be the future of their actual work environment; at least for many).

Squadrons are going to need to rebound and return to some sense of normalcy from pre-COVID-style training activities. But I think COVID-19 has provided us with a way to better integrate that virtual classroom into our activities to supplement the hands-on stuff.

The issue I see, and it really goes back to the same unit problems I've seen over and over in some areas, is that you still have to have a dedicated adult cadre that can motivate their cadets to run that type of program. And if you have a cadre that just doesn't push and build these activities, it's going to continue to dwindle. Sure, you'll get a few trickle ins, maybe even a large Great Start class, but will they be retained over the year (or after two years)?


TheSkyHornet

Quote from: etodd on August 30, 2020, 12:21:25 am
Quote from: JohhnyD on August 29, 2020, 08:35:03 pmIf every unit had an ambassador ... "tell the story" for one full day every month, we could be at that level in one year.
 

Some squadrons just don't have that great "ambassador" with selling skills.

But that brings up another issue. Everyone in the squadron thinking "someone else" needs to be out there recruiting.  Negative ... its the job of every individual member to spread the word in their part of the community.  Don't look to others to recruit. Its our job.

Have the 30 second elevator speech ready. And don't just be ready. Look for opportunites.

I think this is an oversimplification of the issue.

It's not just that everyone wants someone else to do it. There's a natural discomfort for a lot of people in being that individual, and perhaps their unit doesn't empower them to be that person when a new face walks into the room or when an outside opportunity opens up.

For me, personally, I'm not that person. I'm not the elevator speech guy. I'm the busy one who is running around trying to get 10 million things done in two hours, plus all of the other work that I have throughout the week. I'm just not going to be the one to hit up the Chamber of Commerce or go to the street fair with the booth set up. It just won't happen with me, at least not in the present era.

Units struggle a lot with:
1.) Having members who regularly show up
2.) Having members who reliable perform their existing roles
3.) Having members who can convey accurate information
4.) Having members who are willing to serve as the "face" of the unit, even if only for 30 seconds

One of the fallacies of CAP is that we recruit people who have a lot to offer and then leave them bored in the corner due to a lack of leadership that motivates them to fulfill a useful role that they can contribute in. I don't think that's always the case. It's often that an individual is recruited and elects to "serve" or assist on their own terms, and the unit struggles to employ that person because it's more of a hassle than it is to leave them bored in the corner. And often times, leadership doesn't want to address the issue, which really just builds and builds over time.

It's a great tool to sometimes use parents to help gives their kids that boost when you have a senior member-cadet family that joins. But in many cases, that senior member causes a lot of headaches, and the cadet is often impacted by it.

One thing I have absolutely struggled with in the virtual age is that we can't let our cadet staff go into a room and hold a staff meeting. Whenever it's virtual, there are often parents sitting in the other room chirping in the background and trying to assist. It's difficult to have those heart-to-heart/"Get your stuff together" meetings and feedback sessions over a computer.

One of the best retainers that we have is the ability to have adult level conversations with teenagers about their performance and actually help them see their own improvements. But to do that, we often have to have those serious conversations in a private/semi-private setting, and we don't get that when they're at home. The context of the conversation also can be significantly broken through a phone call or virtual chat. It's just not the way we want to operate, and it's not as effective as a face-to-face meeting.

I'm concerned about the slow return rate from cadets, particularly those whose parents, despite the restrictions being lifted, will choose not to send their kids to meetings. I'm already starting to hear it in the distance, and it's going to be problematic. At some point, we have to halt the virtual gatherings, and we're not going to do 50% Virtual, 50% Face-to-Face. They're going to have to show up.

PHall

Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 31, 2020, 09:14:09 pm
Quote from: etodd on August 30, 2020, 12:21:25 am
Quote from: JohhnyD on August 29, 2020, 08:35:03 pmIf every unit had an ambassador ... "tell the story" for one full day every month, we could be at that level in one year.
 

Some squadrons just don't have that great "ambassador" with selling skills.

But that brings up another issue. Everyone in the squadron thinking "someone else" needs to be out there recruiting.  Negative ... its the job of every individual member to spread the word in their part of the community.  Don't look to others to recruit. Its our job.

Have the 30 second elevator speech ready. And don't just be ready. Look for opportunites.

I think this is an oversimplification of the issue.

It's not just that everyone wants someone else to do it. There's a natural discomfort for a lot of people in being that individual, and perhaps their unit doesn't empower them to be that person when a new face walks into the room or when an outside opportunity opens up.

For me, personally, I'm not that person. I'm not the elevator speech guy. I'm the busy one who is running around trying to get 10 million things done in two hours, plus all of the other work that I have throughout the week. I'm just not going to be the one to hit up the Chamber of Commerce or go to the street fair with the booth set up. It just won't happen with me, at least not in the present era.

Units struggle a lot with:
1.) Having members who regularly show up
2.) Having members who reliable perform their existing roles
3.) Having members who can convey accurate information
4.) Having members who are willing to serve as the "face" of the unit, even if only for 30 seconds

One of the fallacies of CAP is that we recruit people who have a lot to offer and then leave them bored in the corner due to a lack of leadership that motivates them to fulfill a useful role that they can contribute in. I don't think that's always the case. It's often that an individual is recruited and elects to "serve" or assist on their own terms, and the unit struggles to employ that person because it's more of a hassle than it is to leave them bored in the corner. And often times, leadership doesn't want to address the issue, which really just builds and builds over time.

It's a great tool to sometimes use parents to help gives their kids that boost when you have a senior member-cadet family that joins. But in many cases, that senior member causes a lot of headaches, and the cadet is often impacted by it.

One thing I have absolutely struggled with in the virtual age is that we can't let our cadet staff go into a room and hold a staff meeting. Whenever it's virtual, there are often parents sitting in the other room chirping in the background and trying to assist. It's difficult to have those heart-to-heart/"Get your stuff together" meetings and feedback sessions over a computer.

One of the best retainers that we have is the ability to have adult level conversations with teenagers about their performance and actually help them see their own improvements. But to do that, we often have to have those serious conversations in a private/semi-private setting, and we don't get that when they're at home. The context of the conversation also can be significantly broken through a phone call or virtual chat. It's just not the way we want to operate, and it's not as effective as a face-to-face meeting.

I'm concerned about the slow return rate from cadets, particularly those whose parents, despite the restrictions being lifted, will choose not to send their kids to meetings. I'm already starting to hear it in the distance, and it's going to be problematic. At some point, we have to halt the virtual gatherings, and we're not going to do 50% Virtual, 50% Face-to-Face. They're going to have to show up.


Yep, some parents will be our biggest problem. The best we can do is have a plan to deal with it.
Just remember the Cadet Programs motto - Semper Gumby!

Fubar

Quote from: PHall on September 01, 2020, 12:03:19 amYep, some parents will be our biggest problem.

I don't know that I would classify a parent who makes the decision on when it's safe to for their children to start mixing with others in public as a problem. Especially in areas where politics and not science seems to be driving the decision making.

Capt Thompson

Quote from: Fubar on September 01, 2020, 01:20:39 am
Quote from: PHall on September 01, 2020, 12:03:19 amYep, some parents will be our biggest problem.

I don't know that I would classify a parent who makes the decision on when it's safe to for their children to start mixing with others in public as a problem. Especially in areas where politics and not science seems to be driving the decision making.
I agree this will vary be region, but I was surprised when we were allowed to resume in-person meetings that none of the parents held their Cadets back. There are some parents that are more concerned about masks and other precautions, but after several months of Zoom there wasn't a single one that prevented their Cadet from coming back in-person.
Capt Matt Thompson
Deputy Commander for Cadets, Historian, Public Affairs Officer

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

Brit_in_CAP

Changed my mind - I was endorsing SkyHornet's previous post but started to rant, so I stopped!

That said - two hours plus etc is common, and I don't have the time for the rest.  The "time drain" is forcing me to a hard choice over CAP, next year, and I can feel it from the cadets also.  Eclipse made a good point earlier, when he pointed to units (like mine) that are at the edge of the Wing AO - for us, the current environment is far from good.  No amount of Chamber visits, booths here and there etc is going to fix the problem that we can't - and won't - for the foreseeable future offer anything close to the range of activities that we could 12 months ago.

arajca

Quote from: Fubar on September 01, 2020, 01:20:39 am
Quote from: PHall on September 01, 2020, 12:03:19 amYep, some parents will be our biggest problem.

I don't know that I would classify a parent who makes the decision on when it's safe to for their children to start mixing with others in public as a problem. Especially in areas where politics and not science seems to be driving the decision making.
I don't think he's talking about parents keeping their cadets out due to covid, but rather the very common issues we have with parents being members and either pushing for exceptions and special treatment for their cadet or not letting their cadet grow in CAP.

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: Fubar on September 01, 2020, 01:20:39 am
Quote from: PHall on September 01, 2020, 12:03:19 amYep, some parents will be our biggest problem.

I don't know that I would classify a parent who makes the decision on when it's safe to for their children to start mixing with others in public as a problem. Especially in areas where politics and not science seems to be driving the decision making.

I don't want this to turn into a debate of "what about flu season," etc. Parents always have the right to deny their children the ability to participate at a meeting. But they need to understand that it will still impact that child as a cadet. That's just how this program is. If a parent denies their kid the ability to go to Encampment (and I've seen it), then that kid doesn't receive their Mitchell Award. I understand that, right now, there's the issue of communicable diseases (and there always have been). People are much more reluctant to expose their kids to disease right now. And that's entirely fair.

But we can't let cadets be virtual forever. As units remobilize, the program returns to face-to-face meetings. Eventually, there is no more of the virtual option. If they feel that the unit moved too fast for them to be comfortable, then their kid doesn't show, and the cadet doesn't advance.

When I say the returns will be problematic, though, I'm not really referring to the parents being problematic in that sense. It's problematic for the squadron to have reduced staffing and minimal manpower to run essential functions of the training program, whether by the absence of key leaders or key participants.


Quote from: arajca on September 01, 2020, 02:47:59 pmI don't think he's talking about parents keeping their cadets out due to covid, but rather the very common issues we have with parents being members and either pushing for exceptions and special treatment for their cadet or not letting their cadet grow in CAP.

Yes, this.

Anyone who has worked in Cadet Programs for several years should be able to recall an experience or two of having to deal with a problematic parent.

I had a mom who refused her cadet to attend any activities that the cadet didn't pay for on their own. When I explained that we have fundraisers that cover the costs, the mom was actually quite mad. She felt like her kid wasn't learning the value of "pay your way" and "don't take handouts." I explained that we had the privilege of having enough of a financial income that we could spend the time focusing on the training aspect and not the fundraising aspect. She pulled her cadet out of the program after the following week (some other issues involved there since the inception of their membership, but you get the idea). Honestly, it was truly bizarre.

I had a dad who was upset that his cadet wasn't put into a higher level staff role. He caught me at the end of a meeting and pulled me aside, with the cadet present, and asked me why I wouldn't give his kid a fair shot. I said that the cadet rarely attends and isn't very reliable in participating. The dad asked why I was denying their promotion. I had no clue what he was talking about. He clarified that the cadet told him that we wouldn't let them test. I explained that their tests are online and conducted at their own pace. The dad looked at his cadet and said "You told me they wouldn't let you test." I said "Do you two want a moment to talk about this further?" Of course, that cadet had issues with some of the other cadets in the unit and ended up transferring. I know the claims of the unit not being supportive went along with their transfer, along with some other claims. They rarely participated at their new unit, who had similar issues as us.

Then there's the cadet whose parents are so distrusting that they need to join and participate at every activity. Okay, participate is a stretch. They show up and don't help. They engage in every planning discussion but don't actually contribute to any level of effort, at least not in the direction we want to go. It becomes very argumentative, and then they ask why they don't get the invite to the next meeting. Actually, this isn't just one. There are several I have that do this. They usually resort to some accusation of bullying or -ism as the reason we don't do this or that.

All of these examples do nothing but waste people's time and hurt the cadet. It's embarrassing and negatively impacting for the cadet.

And, really, I think it's worse during COVID-19 than face-to-face meetings. At least, during the in-person activities, they can break away from their family, even if just for a few hours. During COVID, they're just always surrounded by it, and every time we try to work with that cadet and make a little bit of progress, there's someone in the background coaching it from the other side.

That's what I mean when I say "problematic."

Eclipse

September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pm #53 Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 06:57:01 pm by Eclipse
There is simply no denying the fact that CAP as a whole, and especially the CP, will
be limping for at least the next year, and impacted in a non-trivial way for the foreseeable.

We have an entire "class" of perishable cadets who will have basically missed at least a year
of participation, if not more, and no manner of waivers, allowances, or other retention plays
will change that.

The idea that a recruiting push during a time when the organization is still essentially
shut down, that NCOs will be the saviors of CAP, or any of the other "solutions" which
have always been on the table, yet somehow were never factors is simply magical thinking.

While CAP had an inexplicable bump in membership over the last 2-3 years (which is now all but gone)
it has had an engagement problem throughout my 21 years in, exacerbated by, if not directly caused by,
the focus on retention over member participation (which is one of the reasons IMHO for the bump - namely
pressure from NHQ to NOT normalize the empty shirts in order to raise the numbers).

What CAP is seeing now is what happens to an organization with a longstanding, and essentially ignored, membership churn that abruptly loses its ready access to raw product.  A lot, if not the majority, of units rely on happenstance recruiting through annual events, and each year that would bring a handful of cadets, a couple of parents, and one or two adults, enough to make it through to the next year.

Rinse, Repeat.

The lack of mission coherence, message coherence, and lack of focus on core values over shiny new ideas,
coupled with the ongoing issues of cliques, appointments based on presence, and all the other Happy! Fun! Time! that makes up CAP for a lot of members just adds ice to the wings (I was going to say "lowers the boat in the water", but...you know..."AIR").

Until there is no question as to kids going to school in person, adults going to work in person, and a reasonable economic recovery, CAP is going to continue to chug on fumes.  There's no way around that. 

The advice that will go unheeded is that, now that CAP is essentially forced to reboot, it should focused on 2022 and beyond.

     Cull the empty shirts.
     Move all units to online record keeping.
     Work on fixing long broken / missing personnel records.
     Fix the marketing, website, and groupware issues (like, you know "DECIDE and REQUIRE" vs. "SUGGEST and
     FORGET").
     Untie the choke points in eservices and other non-mission focused systems and activities.
     Identify the real customers,
         press to have 3 and 4-letter agencies actually recognize CAP capabilities
         (Which means you have to define those, too).

Focus all plans on FY2022.

This is work all the members, cadets included, could be engaged in virtually, it's important, and means a
"new" CAP spins out lean, mean, and ready to get to work on whatever CAP (and the world) "is" next year.

Or, watch as the membership slips uncontrolled below 50K, which it is on track now to do.



JohhnyD

Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmThere is simply no denying the fact that CAP as a whole, and especially the CP, will
be limping for at least the next year, and impacted in a non-trivial way for the foreseeable.
Our unit is larger (by over 30%) and stronger (more people moving through their tracks or promotions) and flying as much as ever.
Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmWe have an entire "class" of perishable cadets who will have basically missed at least a year
of participation, if not more, and no manner of waivers, allowances, or other retention plays
will change that.
Ours are as robust as ever. Two just went off to service academies, one just got his solo wings, pretty much (no encampments aside) business as usual.
Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmThe idea that a recruiting push during a time when the organization is still essentially
shut down, that NCOs will be the saviors of CAP, or any of the other "solutions" which
have always been on the table, yet somehow were never factors is simply magical thinking.
We are doing that, and it is working. No magic, just hard work with a plan and a goal. YMMV.

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: JohhnyD on September 01, 2020, 07:46:36 pm
Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmThere is simply no denying the fact that CAP as a whole, and especially the CP, will
be limping for at least the next year, and impacted in a non-trivial way for the foreseeable.
Our unit is larger (by over 30%) and stronger (more people moving through their tracks or promotions) and flying as much as ever.
Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmWe have an entire "class" of perishable cadets who will have basically missed at least a year
of participation, if not more, and no manner of waivers, allowances, or other retention plays
will change that.
Ours are as robust as ever. Two just went off to service academies, one just got his solo wings, pretty much (no encampments aside) business as usual.
Quote from: Eclipse on September 01, 2020, 05:16:25 pmThe idea that a recruiting push during a time when the organization is still essentially
shut down, that NCOs will be the saviors of CAP, or any of the other "solutions" which
have always been on the table, yet somehow were never factors is simply magical thinking.
We are doing that, and it is working. No magic, just hard work with a plan and a goal. YMMV.

What do your meetings and activities look like? Are you able to provide/offer some examples?

What Phase is your Wing in?

I'm curious as to what your locale looks like versus ours.

JohhnyD

We are in, iirc, phase IV. Aside from indoor social distancing, plus masks and a check-in health screen, pretty much like normal meetings. Last night, three cadet flights of about 20 each drilled on the tarmac, senior members took care of processing new members (four or five, last night) and gave tours to prospective members. Each cadet flight had an NCO advisor working with them, which is new and a great joy.

jeders

Quote from: JohhnyD on September 02, 2020, 07:08:04 pmWe are in, iirc, phase IV.

That would be impossible, mostly because the phases only go up to 3, but also because no wing has been approved to go beyond Phase 2. At Phase 2, meetings shouldn't look like normal meetings; limits on the size of gatherings, bias toward outdoor only when possible, double arm interval in formation and 6' distance everywhere else, the more susceptible high risk members still staying away from meetings, none of that should feel like a normal pre-rona meeting.

Quote from: JohhnyD on September 02, 2020, 07:08:04 pmLast night, three cadet flights of about 20 each drilled on the tarmac, senior members took care of processing new members (four or five, last night) and gave tours to prospective members. Each cadet flight had an NCO advisor working with them, which is new and a great joy.

So what you're saying is that you had at least 70 people at a meeting where you are not supposed to have more than 50, copy.
If you are confident in you abilities and experience, whether someone else is impressed is irrelevant. - Eclipse

JohhnyD

We also have a monthly community outreach day where two members spend a day visiting folks. July was veterans and community groups, August was schools and this month is airport local businesses (on airport or nearby), for "friend-raising" - recruiting, and donations.

JohhnyD

Quote from: jeders on September 02, 2020, 07:32:27 pmSo what you're saying is that you had at least 70 people at a meeting where you are not supposed to have more than 50, copy.
Nope.

Quotehttps://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/media/cms/IDWG_COVID_Remobilization_Phase_1_A_EA6816C6EB260.pdf

(4) Stage 4. 13-26 JUN
(a) Gatherings, both public and private, of more than 50 people, where appropriate physical
distancing and precautionary measures are observed can occur.

But why would you want to assume that? Very odd.