2019 Nevada Wing Encampment
2019 Nevada Wing EncampmentWritten by Cadet 1st Lt. Dana Surwill
On 22 June 2019, over 75 Civil Air Patrol cadets from the region arrived in Mesquite, Nevada for the seventh annual Nevada Wing Encampment. For the next seven days, these cadets were immersed in leadership, aerospace education and physical training, as well as drill and ceremonies. At the end of the week, the cadets graduated into the Nevada Training Corps, better known as the NTC.
On day zero, after checking in and going through a contraband check, the cadets
signed an honor agreement to develop leadership skills; learn about aviation, space, and technology; commit to a habit of regular exercise; and live the Core Values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect throughout the week. Once their honor agreement was signed, cadets were then separated into their flights and began their training.
Beginning the morning of day one, 23 June, cadets woke up and participated in thirty minutes of physical training each morning. Cadets also took part in their first barracks inspection. The flight level inspection is the first major test of the cadet’s ability to work as a team. Cadets need to make their beds as well as prepare their uniforms, shirts and socks to a predetermined standard. The encampment standard is designed to make students focus on details and work together as a team.
On day two, the flights competed against each other in an obstacle course. The flights, including their sergeants and commanders, had to walk along unstable benches, participate in ladder runs, conquer ranger pushups, shoot hoops, and ring the old bell while motivating each other and working as a team. Charlie flight won the obstacle course by completing it in 8:49 and showing great motivation and teamwork. Flights also participated in a Team Leadership Problem as well. The theme for the first team leadership problem was management. The flight, without help from their staff, were required to use all of their members in order to complete their objective; solving a 300-piece puzzle in 30 minutes. The puzzle had to be built away from the box and picture, and each piece was transported individually. Most teams used sorters, who sorted pieces on the starting table which couldn’t be used for building; transporters who memorized where pieces were and took them over to be built; and builders who built the puzzle. The most successful teams learned that by using everyone’s strengths, working hard for the full 30 minutes and using every person, they could build the puzzle. Flights were given two attempts and the best score was Alpha flight with 146 pieces connected.
United States Air Force Chaplain Captain Matthew Mendenhall visited encampment on 25 June. He provides pastoral care, advises leadership and facilitates religious accommodation while serving as unit chaplain for the 432nd Operations Group and 799th Air Base Group. Chaplain Mendenhall spoke about service before self, the importance of putting ideas first and finding your motivation to support that idea, and how programs such as Civil Air Patrol greatly strengthen our Air Force capabilities. He believes that it is imperative for American youth to grow up passionate about a life in service.
Physical Training (PT) is a required activity at encampment that teaches cadets how to live a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle during and after the week. Students are encouraged to take what they learn during this training and actively practice at home. Each day cadets performed exercises ranging from push-ups to ranger claps; all with the thought of health and self-improvement in mind. As the cadets go through Flight, Squadron, and Core training, they experience three completely different levels of the PT program. They are constantly pushed to motivate themselves and their fellow Wingmen to ensure the team makes it to the end. Teamwork is the only way for a student to overcome the challenges at encampment and PT is the perfect environment for this skill to be developed and applied to real life situations.
For the first few days, the flight cadre worried that their commander was coming to inspect their flights and they wanted their flight to look good. The flights worked together to make sure their shirts, socks, and beds were up to the encampment standard. When it came time on day three, the squadron commander and first sergeant inspected the flights. They put all of the responsibility on their flight cadre rather than the students, correcting the flight cadre when their flight was not up to standard.
During the fourth day of encampment, 26 June, cadets participated in squadron volleyball competitions. Throughout the week, the flights had been practicing volleyball in preparation for this event. Volleyball served as a stress reliever and gave the flights an opportunity to have fun and bond. However, this sport also reminds the cadets that they have to work as a team. When the ball comes your way, you have to make a play whether you are ready or not. No individual can cover the whole court no matter how good they are. After five games, Bravo Flight and Delta Flight won their respective squadron competitions and faced off in the final on day five.
Day four was quite exciting for Charlie and Delta flights as well, as they were able to do orientation flights that morning. Orientation flights are one of the methods that Civil Air Patrol uses to get cadets interested in flying and to experience aviation firsthand. Cadets had the opportunity to actually fly the aircraft under the direction of a pilot, and perform maneuvers with the aircraft. The cadets had the opportunity to get behind the controls of either a Cessna 182, Cessna 206, or GA8. During the orientation flights, the pilots talked about the instruments on the aircraft, pre-flight and in-flight checklists, navigation and how to fly the aircraft. They also pointed out key landmarks that they flew over and performed various aerial maneuvers with the cadets.
On day five, Alpha and Bravo flights completed their orientation flights. Every student went up in the air and every student who did not already have a front seat ride was able to complete their first orientation flight and receive their first flight certificates. Cadets also participated in the first annual drone competition, the corps drill competition and the corps volleyball competition.
In the 2019 NTC Drone Competition, flights were pitted against each other for the championship. Each flight selected their top four competitors who competed for the fastest time and the title of "NTC Drone Champions". The winner of the competition was Delta Fight. Their fastest time was achieved by Cadet Master Sergeant Payce Anderson, who brought his team in for the win and the title of "NTC Drone Champions."
The NTC Drill Competition focuses on the flight's attention to detail, ability to drill and ability to work as a team. These components were implemented in the training the cadets received throughout the entirety of the week. The drill competition evaluates the flight's overall understanding of the value of drill and ceremonies. The cadets could have blindly recited the value of drill and ceremonies throughout the week, but the executive cadre were looking for the flight that truly understood and upheld the value of drill and ceremonies. Alpha Flight best demonstrated their understanding of the value of drill and ceremonies for which they received the Corps Drill Competition Award.
Throughout the week of encampment, cadets faced many challenges that could only be conquered through teamwork. Volleyball added a level of competition to motivate students to work together so their flight could achieve the common goal of winning. The two flights competing in the group level competition were determined by the Squadron Commanders who each held a competition between the two flights they oversaw. Bravo and Delta advanced to the group level competition where Bravo took the win.
The last full day of encampment, day six, is the most challenging but also the most fun. Cadets participated in the Nevada Training Corps physical training, ending with a corps run and a motivational speech. Cadets also helped not only their flight or their squadron with barracks prep but also the other squadron to prepare for the Nevada Training Corps barracks inspection. The evening ended with a fun activity that included all of the cadets, cadre, and senior members. Cadets were able to converse freely and have fun.
Graduation day! For some cadets, this day is their favorite day but for others it’s their saddest. Throughout the week, cadets made invaluable friendships and pushed themselves to embody the core values of CAP. Many cadets received awards at the graduation ceremony but the best award of all is that all first-time students graduated!
Not only was encampment a learning opportunity for the students, it was a leadership laboratory for the cadre.
The cadre could practice and see the effects of different leadership styles and tactics in a closely monitored environment. Cadre grew as leaders and gained leadership experience that you cannot get anywhere else – all in a safe atmosphere with amazing senior members for guidance.
It is with good reason that attending an encampment is a requirement to earn the Billy Mitchell Award and promote to the grade of Cadet Second Lieutenant. At encampment, cadets are taught professionalism and teamwork while gaining some of the expertise required to become an effective officer.