We are spending this week in Alpena, MI with Civil Air Patrol (CAP) – a volunteer organization that we belong to, and have for quite a long time. CAP was a family activity for us when the kids were younger, and Bill and I continue, as does Beth. Michigan Wing (MIWG) – CAP on the state level – has an annual “encampment”, aimed primarily at youth (although there are leadership opportunities for adults as well). I could write volumes on the positive aspects of this program for both youth and adults, but I want to focus on grace and inspiration. If you would like to know more, or chat about whether it might be a good fit for you or your children, feel free to contact me. (No, you don’t have to be a pilot, your children don’t have to commit to a future in the military, and YES, if you are interested, there is a place for you!) There are leadership opportunities for everyone.
I want to share the amazing amount of grace that flows during this week (not to mention the months leading up to this event in planning and working together as a team). MIWG is filled with a diverse group of adult volunteers that are very generous with their time and talent. They commit unbelievable amounts of time and energy to ensure that the cadets have an outstanding experience. Some of these members are “legendary” – their reputation is well known and respected. Many have been in the program as cadets (youth) and have continued on as seniors (adult members). A fair number are new to the experience and are respected for the gifts and talents they bring. Everyone is working toward a common goal, the experience is the living definition of teamwork. I would guess that there are between 75 and 100 adult volunteers – most having a duty day of at least 8 hours for 9 days straight. That doesn’t count the planning hours, travel hours, time, and personal expense. This is a sizeable financial aspect to consider, but is a fraction of the value compared to the value of time, expertise, knowledge, and genuine concern expended by each adult.
The inspiration – that is apparent in the youth as well as the adults. I can’t imagine anyone being in this environment and not being inspired to be more, to be better, and to share what they have acquired here. Saturday morning is graduation, and is preceded by Pass In Review. I have lost count of the number of encampments I have attended, but I can say in all honesty that I have yet to make it through a Pass In Review dry-eyed (especially the year that Beth was the Cadet Commander). These young people, our cadets, are truly inspirational. All those amazing adult senior members? They take a back seat during this ceremony and let the cadets shine.
This year, I didn’t have a role at encampment. I watched from the sidelines, renewed old friendships, and soaked up the grace and inspiration that has flooded the area. If we stay for Pass In Review, I will load my pockets with Kleenex, and fill my being with more grace and inspiration!