Thunderbolt Squadron at TXWG Summer Encampment 2016

C/CMSgt Jheel Patel and C/TSgt Emma Bray -July 7, 2016

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On Sunday, July 3, 2016, Texas Wing’s Summer Encampment 2016 came to an end signified by the Pass in Review which showed friends and family the transformation of their cadets from basics to graduates. As the cadets marched around the parade field at Camp Bullis in the sweltering sun, they demonstrated just how much they had learned from their 9 days at Bullis.

Encampment is a week-long camp where basic cadets learn the foundations of Civil Air Patrol, all of the opportunities that CAP offers, Air Force drill and ceremonies, rendering of customs and courtesies, proper wear of the uniform, how to stay physically fit, aerospace education, emergency services, and an introductory experience to military life. While they are being taught all of this new information, the basic cadets are also being put under high levels of stress and are pushed to their limits both physically and mentally to show them that they can achieve more than they once thought. Out of the Thunderbolt Squadron, we had 5 cadets attend as basics and 2 attend as staff. Cadets Bray, Russo, Leahy, Coventon, and Devine all graduates as basics while C/CMSgt Rosenfield served on staff as the Golf Flight Sergeant and C/CMSgt Patel served as the 98th Squadron First Sergeant. Summer encampment was a great experience for those who attended as a basic. All of the cadets learned many things ranging from drill and ceremonies, to bettering yourself as a person, follower, and leader. “Encampment was a really good experience. The most useful thing I learned was how to work as a team with people I usually wouldn’t get along with. I’m glad I went to Encampment, it probably was the best thing I did all summer.” C/SrA Leahy. Another thing cadets learned at encampment was how to work with new people. The five Thunderbolt cadets were split up into different flights that were filled with other cadets from squadrons all over Texas. Cadets Bray and Devine were placed in Delta flight, Russo in Hotel flight, Leahy in Foxtrot flight, and Coventon in India flight.

Cadet Coventon and 4 of his teammates from India flight competed in and won the knowledge bowl competition. Cadet Coventon helped lead his team to victory by demonstrating his knowledge of Civil Air Patrol history, regulations, and aerospace education to name a few of the topics covered in the competition. This victory earned India flight the title of Knowledge Flight of Encampment.

All of the cadets did an outstanding job at encampment including Cadet Bray who earned honor cadet of Delta flight by showing her willingness to work with her team, exemplifying the core values, taking initiative, being proficient in drill and customs and courtesies, and being an overall outstanding cadet.

The cadets who served on staff were honored to be able to influence all of cadets that were under their command. As a Flight Sergeant, Chief Rosenfield directly taught 20 basic cadets all of the aspects of Civil Air Patrol. She stated, “It was amazing to watch my cadets grow not only as cadets, but as people too. Helping them accomplish their goals and teaching them new things was definitely what kept me going throughout the week.” Chief Rosenfield was constantly keeping track of, mentoring, and setting the example for these cadets throughout the entire duration of the week. Her flight won warrior flight of the day for exemplifying camaraderie and having a strong team spirit. Furthermore, as a First Sergeant, C/CMSgt Patel was able to discipline and influence 3 flights and their flight staff which totaled about 60 cadets. She led the cadets in PT and pushed them to their physical limits along with disciplining them and looking out for their well being. Chief Patel also served as a mentor to the Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Flight Sergeants. While Alpha flight won Honor flight of the day 3 times in a row, Bravo flight won Warrior flight of the day, and Charlie flight won both Honor and Warrior flights, Alpha received Drill flight of encampment and Charlie earned Honor flight of encampment. These awards were well deserved and Chief Patel was incredible proud of all of her flights.

Throughout the week, cadets partook in a wide variety of enjoyable activities including physical training (PT), an obstacle course, a Leadership Reaction C ourse (LRC), and a trip to either Randolph or Lackland Air Force Base. The daily PT pushed cadets past their limits and showed them the importance of physical fitness. The obstacle course and LRC taught cadets the importance of teamwork and forced them to think creatively to overcome challenges as a team. The trips to Randolph and Lackland AFB gave cadets the opportunity to meet and interact with active duty military personnel, explore careers in the military, and learn more about aerospace and planes. Additionally, some cadets had the opportunity to witness a real Air Force Basic Training graduation on Friday July 1st. Along with all of these fun activities, there was also a variety of guest speakers who spoke to the cadets.

Overall, encampment served as an amazing learning experience for both the basics and the staff. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and will cherish the memories and lifelong friends that they made for their entire lives.