Students and Parents: What to Expect at your first encampment


Expect to be very busy. You will be up early and you will be physically active most of the day. You will sleep soundly at night. You will most likely be more active than you typically are at home and school. You can ease the transition by getting into better physical condition before you arrive – do some running, practice some pushups.

Expect to be in uniforms for most of the time. That is part of the fun. Make sure your hair is in regulations, you have all the necessary insignia, and that it is in the right place. Have a more experienced member of your squadron do an inspection before you leave for the encampment. Most of the time you will be wearing ABU's and boots. Make sure your boots have been broken in. Wear them as much as you can before the encampment. Blisters are a frequent medical issue -- it's not much fun walking around with hurting feet.

Temperatures can very greatly during encampment. Mornings tend to be very cold, but daytime temperatures can get into the upper 90s. While the wind makes the higher temperatures more bearable, it also strips away moisture. Make sure you are hydrating before you arrive. Along with blisters, dehydration is our most pressing medical issue. Hydrate early, and often.

Parents-Things you can do to help

The encampment has long days and lots of physical activity. Probably more than your teenager is used to. The first couple of days are always very stressful, so ensure your cadet is mentally ready for the challenge. Anything you can do to encourage them to get in physical shape prior to the encampment will help that transition. If they have been ill, consider very carefully whether they should attend. While we can handle minor ailments, if someone cannot participate in at least 80% of the encampment, we may make the decision to send them home. This is disruptive for you (since you will be responsible for getting them home), and it is also upsetting to the cadet and to the new friends they have made at the encampment. Cadets who have recently been exposed to any infectious disease should obviously not attend. If you have any concerns or questions, contact the Encampment Commander prior to coming to the encampment. Since they will probably be more active than at home, if they have ever had allergies requiring the use of an inhaler, EpiPen or medications, these items should be brought to the encampment, even if they have not been necessary in the immediate past. The two most common medical problems at the encampment are blisters and dehydration. Make sure that their boots fit and that they have 'broken them in' and make sure they hydrate prior to arriving at the encampment (see the section on boots at the bottom of this page). Make sure that they bring everything that is listed on the packing list and that everything is labeled with their name. Make sure that they don't bring anything that is forbidden (i.e., gaming devices, ipods or other music players, food, etc.) or illegal (i.e., alcohol, drugs, tobacco products, etc.). Forbidden items will be confiscated at in processing and returned at the end of the encampment, but it is better to not bring them in the first place. Any cadet found to have illegal items will be dismissed from the encampment.


Many cadets who are away from home for the first time experience homesickness while at the encampment. There is a period of adjustment that is natural when transitioning from summer vacation to a rigorous training schedule. Experience has shown that if cadets receive encouragement and give the encampment a chance for at least three days, most will end up enjoying themselves and even returning the next year.

If a cadet is having difficulty with homesickness, the cadet has many people at the encampment to turn to, including the cadre members, the Training Officers, and the senior executive staff. It is our hope that all cadets will remain at the encampment, complete the week's training, and graduate. If it becomes apparent that a cadet is having a great deal of difficulty with homesickness, a decision for the cadet to return home may be made after consultation with the cadet, the cadet's parents or guardians, and the senior member staff. If a decision is made for a cadet to leave the encampment, it is the responsibility of the parents or guardians to pick the cadet up from the encampment.

Communication at the Encampment

If your cadet doesn't call or write home, it's because the days are packed with activities, our site has no mailbox (inbound or outbound), and the cadet will probably arrive home before a letter does. We purposely do not allow cadets to use phones to help them develop self-sufficiency. In the event of any serious problem, we will contact you promptly. Should you have an emergency, you can find Emergency Contact Information here.


Each cadet is part of a flight of 14-18 other cadets. Each flight has two Cadre members who are in charge of the flight. These Cadre have attended encampments in the past and have been chosen from an application process to serve in these positions. Each flight has one or two senior staff members assigned directly to it. These senior members are called Training Officers. In addition to the Training Officers, there are approximately 40 senior members who serve on staff for this encampment. Included in this staff are trained medical personnel. Cadets sleep in barracks of up to 19 people and each barracks will have 1Training Officer who sleeps in the bay to be immediately available to cadets for any emergency or concerns. Cadets at the encampment are free to approach any of these staff with any issue at any time.


The administration of both legal prescription and legal non-prescription medication(s) is the responsibility of the CAP member, not the CAP Corporation. 100% of the medications brought by cadets (prescribed or over-the-counter) must be listed on the CAP Forms 160 and 163 with a signed authorization by parents or legal guardian. The authority for members who have reached the age of majority (18 in most locations) to bring legal medications to CAP activities rests with that member. The responsibility for members who have not reached the age of majority to bring legal medications to CAP activities rests with that member’s parent or legal guardian. See CAPR 160-1, Operation of the CAP Health Service Program, for further guidance on medications and medical care.


If your cadet has a medical need to have food available to eat between meals, be sure to note this on the medical form.

Every effort is given to providing nutritious and appealing selections. There is generally a salad bar offered at every meal, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are always available. Vegetarian meals are available for those participants who have indicated their request, in advance, on their application.

If your cadet has dietary needs beyond what has been described above, you should contact prior to completing your application. We have an extremely limited capacity for people to bring and prepare their own meals, either for health or religious reasons. This must be communicated to the encampment staff and approved prior to the acceptance date.

Challenging Activities

With “challenge” being one of the key traits of cadet life we are encouraged to offer cadets youth-scaled, high adventure activities. During Encampment this could be in the form of a confidence course, nature hikes, Repelling Tower, Team Leadership Problems, or a variety of other activities as they are available.

Before any activity, we go through a Risk Management process to asses the potential risks and mitigate them. All activity, even just marching to dinner, has some risk but our job is to make sure that nobody is subjected to unnecessary risk. The goal is to provide challenges for our cadets to overcome, giving them confidence and self-esteem that is not easily shaken as well as memories they will not easily forget!

We will make reasonable accommodations so that cadets who have special needs or physical limitations can safely participate in these challenges (e.g.: provide an extra spotter, provide a boost over obstacles, etc.). However, if the nature of this activity is inappropriate for a cadet’s particular abilities, the Encampment Commander, or his designee, may limit that cadet’s participation. Although encouraged, cadets who feel that they cannot negotiate a specific challenge are not forced to do it.

Proper Fitting Boots Most Important Gear For Encampment.

By Lt Col (Dr.) Randolph C. Fish

Every year at encampments, more sick-call visits occur because of poorly fitting boots than any other reason. Blisters, nail problems and toe pain are all caused by boots that have been held over another year, despite being too small or worse, they belonged to an older sibling and were handed down. This is great for economics, but very poor for feet.

Imagine what would happen to your toes if you wear a pair of boots three sizes too small. Ouch! (Don’t laugh-it has been done.) Some cadets even have their encampment cut short because their boots created foot problems significant enough for them to be sent home – a tragedy that is completely avoidable.

Proper fitting boots are arguably the most important piece of gear for success at any encampment. Nothing will cause misery as quickly as poorly fitting shoe gear. Excitement can be turned into torture on the first day if boots cause blisters or squeeze toes so nails cut into flesh. Here is a short lesson in boots and how to fit them, and hopefully prevent some injuries this encampment season.

When to search for boots

Search for new boots in the evening, since feet normally swell during the day. If they fit perfectly in the morning, chances are they will be too tight when night rolls around. Try them on again the next morning to make sure they fit comfortably. Never buy a pair of boots or shoes under the impression they will stretch enough to change a tight fit into a comfortable one. This rarely, if ever, happens. Sizing varies between manufactures, so buy by fit, not by size. This means you need to be careful if buying through the mail. You may need to take them back more than once to get a proper fit. Remember too, that size, shape and volume of your feet change with age, so don’t rely on your previous size when choosing a new pair. Youth typically will change shoe size more than once a year, so boots that fit last summer may not fit now.

A simple way to check for proper size is to remove the boot insert and stand on it. Put your heel on the heel end, but not overhanging. You should expect to see a thumbnail’s width between the tip of your big toe and end of the foot bed (at least three eighths of an inch). The extra room in the front prevents your toes from banging into the tip of the boot. If you have this room, then the boot is the proper length. Also, most people have one foot larger than the other (typically a half size), so make sure you fit to the longer foot. If you wear special inserts or orthotics, wear them when trying on the new boots. If you begin to struggle in finding a well-fitting boot, try a different foot bed to adjust the volume inside the boot or to stabilize the foot sufficiently to give a better fit.

There should also be a rim of foot-bed visible all around the sides. Narrow boots will squeeze and cause pain. Sometimes, boots are stretched out for extra comfort, but water (think rain) shrinks the stretched area back to normal – so it’s better to get extra room in the beginning. Ideally, you should have a fairly snug fit in the ankle, heel and arch area, but have extra room at the front. This allows for natural swelling that occurs during the day, plus extra swelling that occurs in hot weather and during prolonged heavy use.

Heel Slippage

Generally, slippage in the heel should be avoided, as it will cause blisters. Your heel will lift normally in boots when they are new, however, this should subside when they become broken-in. There should be no more than one-fourth of an inch of heel-lift when you walk. If the heel area is loose, try tightening the laces near the bend of the ankle. If the heel remains loose, use an adhesive heel-narrowing patch available at your local store. This should help by narrowing the heel enough to prevent slipping.

Break-in period

The break in period is very important. New-boot leather will expand slightly after the boots have been worn. Break-in actually loosens the leather and allows it to stretch. This small amount of flex makes the boot more comfortable. Do not think that this will turn an uncomfortable boot into a comfortable one or that a boot which is too narrow or too short will become well fitting. This will not happen. The boot should feel comfortable when new. Break-in just makes them more comfortable. Important tip: Break them in completely before your encampment. Arriving at encampment with boots that are stiff and not properly broken-in is a recipe for disaster.

Socks: first line of defense

Last but not least is the padding between the boot and your skin. Because feet can easily give off a full cup of sweat in 12 hours during strenuous activity, socks are the first line of defense against the effects of moisture around the foot. In addition, they act as insulators against cold and friction. Salt from sweat is corrosive and abrasive. Over time, it breaks down the fibers in the sock material, causing the to thin out, lose padding and inhibits their ability to wick moisture away from the foot. Salt also prematurely wears out boots.

Lesson: Buy new socks for the encampment. The best choice for socks is now synthetics. They last longer, fit better and provide better wicking than wool. Also, let’s discuss the old adage about wearing two socks. This doesn’t mean two socks of the same thickness. Your boots may fit perfectly with one sock layer, but two layers will make them too small. The best idea is to wear one thin pair and one regular pair of socks when fitting the boots. This means wearing a thin synthetic liner beneath the regular wool socks. A temporary method that has worked with great success during encampments is the use of inexpensive knee-high nylon stockings. The friction of the boots and the stockings is dissipated against the nylon stockings instead of your skin, thus preventing blisters. This is only if you forgot your regular liners though.

I hope these tips might provide you a bit more comfort “where the rubber meets the road.” Hope you have a great and blister-free summer of CAP activities !