This resource page has been developed IAW CAPP 52-9:
Orientation & Training for Civil Air Patrol Cadets (a/k/a Cadet Great Start)

Cadet Great Start is a comprehensive introduction to CAP for new cadets. It transforms a cohort of ordinary youth into Cadet Airmen in 5 short weeks, while giving cadet NCOs and officers opportunities to apply their leadership skills.


Timing Tips:

When To Hold An Open House and Great Start:

Per ALWG Recruiting and Retention Officer / Group 2 Chief of Staff, we have been directed to have NO LESS THAN one (1) Open House per year, but more as the unit is able to support.

A “Spring,” late March to mid-April, Open House and Great Start should be maintained as the most important opportunity. The specific date should be established by counting back from the Annual Squadron Promotions and Awards Ceremony (last Monday of July). This timeframe allows for the following benefits:

  • Involve new youth prospects and their families prior to the commitment window for the following school-year’s activities to get them interested and committed to the CAP Cadet Program early.
  • By utilizing the Great Start program, new Cadets complete the program basics and achieve their first rank in time to qualify to sign-up for and attend Summer Encampment.  (Part of their commitment in signing up for CAP is: “
  • After achieving their first rank, they receive the $100 Curry Voucher toward their Blues uniform. They need this uniform to attend Encampment (they should already have at least one set of ABUs and PT uniform). The sooner Cadets get into all of their uniforms, the more likely parents will be to send their Cadets because they are not feeling overwhelmed by the Encampment packing list.
  • Immediately start them on the path toward achieving their second rank in time for the BIG end-of-summer Annual Squadron Awards Ceremony. (We schedule this as the last Monday in July so that it does not conflict with families preparing for the first day of school which is typically the first Tuesday of August.)
  • All of these efforts give Cadets a reason to continue their attendance over the summer months, hopefully including additional “fun” field trips during the week that are not possible during the school year; further building their confidence within and commitment to the Cadet Program before the new school year starts. This can help improve retention rates that can sometimes drop once school starts.

*If “National Volunteer Week” is early enough in the Spring (usually some time in April), attempt to schedule your Open House to take advantage of PA opportunities being pushed by media and radio. This can help draw in adult volunteers as well. If timing doesn’t allow for the Open House to be the week of National Volunteer Week, encourage the Squadron PA to still seek opportunities to advertise separately and recruit adults during this week.

Throughout the year, you can plan other Open Houses, and even other Great Start programs (with or without an Open House for new cadets who “trickle in”), but April should be the primary recruiting push to encourage the best results.

A “Fall,” late September to October, Open House and Great Start is another good time frame. This allows ample time to prep a new group of Cadets in preparation for Winter Encampment (late Dec / early Jan).

Great Start Schedule – 5-Week Program Verses 2-Full Days and a Monday:

The 5-Week program works best when a Squadron has the infrastructure of either adequate Senior Member staff and/or Cadet Cadre advanced enough in their own training to be able to take on leadership roles and assist in the implementation of the course. If this infrastructure does not exist, it makes it difficult to keep more tenured Cadets involved during Great Start because their training and progression slows as the priority shifts to the training of new Cadets.

The “Weekend” or 2-Full Days and a Monday Meeting is a second scheduling option for Great Start. If done in this manner and you wish to do an Open House, the Open House should be scheduled separately as this time is only sufficient to complete the Great Start curriculum.

Cadet’s First Orientation “O” Flight:

The Great Start Program should culminate in Cadets participation in their first “O” Flight.


Cadet Wingman Course:

Ideally, this course should be taught as part of Cadet Great Start.
(It is NOT built into the Great Start Schedule that is provided.
Great Start, Wk 3 is a good time to fit this in.)

It is required to be completed by every new cadet, usually within the first month of becoming a member, as they work toward their Curry Achievement. A link to the lesson plan and supporting material can be found below.

Cadet Wingman Course
(To be taught to all new Cadets)

Introduction to Cadet Great Start:

Introduction  –  Includes:

  • Cover
  • Preface
  • Hallmarks of the Cadet Orientation & Training Course
  • Course Introduction
  •  Course Outline – Includes The Following Block Objective Outlines:
    —  P1: Pre-Planning (Unit CC & Assigned Project Officer)
    —  P2: Cadet Cadre Training (Assigned Cadre Instructor)
    —  Part 1:  Orientation:  Welcome to CAP
    —  Part 2:  Training
    —  Part 3:  Evaluation & Management

Appendix 1:  Pre-Planning & Open House Checklist

Implementation Guidelines and Schedule:

Great Start: Implementation Guidelines  –  Includes:

  • Implementation Guidelines
  • Recommended Schedule
  • Cadet Great Start Weekend Suggested Schedule for Groups & Wings

Appendix 2:  Great Start Checklist (5 wks, 60 days, 1st year)

Appendix 7:  Frequently Asked Questions

Training Senior Members and Cadet Cadre:


Senior Member   –  Training Leaders of Cadets (main website)

Senior Members  –  TLC – Cadet Program Fundamentals


Cadet Cadre Training Material (Activity P2)

Great Start Program: Part 1 – Orientation (Week 1)
Welcome to Civil Air Patrol

Planning and Execution of an Open House

Appendix 1:  Pre-Planning & Open House Checklist

Appendix 2:  Great Start Checklist (5 wks, 60 days, 1st year)

Appendix 3:  Materials Checklist (Special Equipment and Materials List)

Appendix 4:  Sample News Release

Appendix 5:  Letter To Schools

Appendix 7:  Frequently Asked Questions


Part 1 Lesson Plan Overview

1.1 Exciting Opportunities

1.2 Cadet Membership

1.3 Teambuilding: Mine Field

1.4 Great Start Overview

1.5 Parents’ Introduction

Great Start Program: Part 2 – Training

Part 2 Lesson Plan Overview

MODULE 2 LESSONS:  Leadership

Followership and Drill

2.1 Leadership Foundations 1

2.11 Teambuilding: Identity Crisis

2.12, 2.13, 2.14, 2.15:  Drill and Ceremonies 1, 2, 3, and 4

Teamwork and The Chain of Command

2.2 Leadership Foundations 2

2.21 Grade Insignia (includes printable flashcards)

Customs and Courtesies

2.3 Leadership Foundations 3

2.31 Customs and Courtesies Lab

The Uniform

2.4 Leadership Foundations 4

2.41 Wear of the Uniform Lab

2.42 Uniform Inspection and Tutorial

MODULE 3 LESSONS:  Aerospace Education

3.1 AE Team Activity: Survival on the Moon

3.2 Pre-Flight Activity

3.3 Orientation Flight – IAW CAPP 60-40: Cadet Orientation Flight Program Guide – Combined – Available on this Page (Rev 10/2018)

MODULE 4 LESSONS:  Physical Fitness

4.1 Introduction to Fitness an the CPFT

4.2 Fitness Activity

MODULE 5 LESSONS:  Character Development

5.1 Introduction to the Core Values

5.2 The Cadet Oath

MODULE 6 LESSONS:  Special Activities

6.1 Field Safety

6.2 Compass Course

Great Start Program: Part 3 – Evaluation and Management

Part 3 Lesson Plan Overview

MODULE 7 – Cadet Evaluation:

7.1 Pre-Test: Jeopardy – Instructions

7.2 Cadet Physical Fitness Test

  • See HFZ via eServices > Cadet Programs > Cadet Promotions > in the top left menu look for Healthy Fitness Zone

7.3 Written Exam (Curry) – Online via eServices with Cadet CAP ID

7.31 Drill Exam (Curry)

7.32 Written Exam – Corrections

7.33 Recite Cadet Oath

7.4 Cadet Progression & Leadership Expectations

7.41 Leadership Feedback Meeting – Instructions

MODULE 8 – Management

Great Start Graduation and Promotion Ceremony with Squadron Social

  • Graduation Certificates
  • Awards (suggested)
    • Most Outstanding Performance in Drill
    • Highest Score – Written Exam
    • Most Outstanding Performance in Physical Fitness
    • Honor Cadet
    • Most Outstanding Instructor (cadet cadre)
    • Certificate of Appreciation (suggested)

End-of-Course Critique

Curriculum Suggestions

Reporting Requirements:

* This page is a breakdown of the individual areas of preparation, training of staff and execution of the Great Start Program.  The link below will provide the entire manual in its original format.

Entire Great Start Manual