National Cadet Special Activities are Cadet Programs. NCSAs are designed to give cadets direct hands on experience with various aspects of the Civil Air Patrol program and provide meaningful insight into several aviation-related careers. There are approximately 30 different special activities that a cadet may attend. Each activity is approximately a week long, and all but two are offered during the Summer.

The variety of NCSAs offered by CAP gives cadets a diverse experience. Activities focus on career exploration, leadership development, search and rescue skills, aeronautical training, Air Force familiarization, government, and a variety of other topics.

Current NCSA list and more information: Click Here

Selection Process for NCSAs

After the list of NCSAs for the upcoming year is published, interested cadets must file their application online at Civil Air Patrol's e-Services website. Cadets have until the 15th of January to file their applications. If a cadet wishes to attend more than one NCSA, the cadet should indicate each activity he or she wishes to attend, and rank them in order from highest to lowest. Cadets should indicate any activity in which they wish to participate, even if the dates overlap.

On 16 January, each wing headquarters will process the applications from that wing. Beginning in 2009, cadets will be assigned to one of three categories: Green-Light, Approved, and Red-Light At least one and up to 10% of cadets from each wing will be given the Green-Light, with the remaining cadets being slotted as approved. Cadets can be assigned to the Red-Light category because of poor conduct or an unsatisfactory attitude, and are thus ineligible to attend NCSAs.

Some wings hold selection boards to determine NCSA eligibility. Prior to 2009, these selection boards would rank and stack each cadet, producing a numerical order for cadets. However, in 2009, CAP has implemented a new Objective Scoring System to standardize the process across all wings. Wing selection boards now meet to determine whether a cadet will be slotted as green-light, approved, or red-light.

The Objective Scoring System was designed to evaluate cadets in a fair, impartial, and standardized manner. Cadets earn points based on their age, rank, years of service, and prior activities. Ties between cadets with the same score are broken by age. These scores are calculated on February 18, so changes made after February 18 (such as promotions or birthdays) are not accounted for.

Objective Scoring System
Age Achievement Longevity Prior Activities
18+ = 10 points Spaatz = 20 points 5+ years = 15 points None = 15 points
17 = 8 pts Eaker = 16 pts 4 years = 12 pts 1 Activity = 10 points
16 = 6 pts Earhart = 14 pts 3 years = 9 pts 2 activities = 5 pts
15 = 4 pts Mitchell = 12 pts 2 years = 5 pts 3+ activities = 0 pts
14 = 3 pts Wright Bros = 8 pts 1 year = 2 pts  
<14 = 0 pts None = 0 pts <1 years = 0 pts  

After cadets are scored, they are grouped together by their category. The highest scoring Green-Light cadet is assigned to his or her highest desired NCSA, followed by the second highest scoring Green-Light, and so on, until all green light cadets have been assigned. After Green-Light cadets have been assigned, the highest Approved cadet is assigned, followed by the second highest approved cadet, and so on.

Cadets are automatically assigned to their most desired activity that has space available. Although all cadets have a chance to be assigned, not every cadet will be assigned because of a limited number of spaces. If, after all cadets have been assigned, any activity has vacancies, a second round of slotting begins. This second round begins with the highest ranking Green-Light cadet, and proceeds accordingly, adding a cadet to a second activity if the cadet wishes to attend the activity, the activity has space available, and the second activity does not conflict with the dates of the first activity. This process continues until no other vacancies can be filled.

CAP National Headquarters does not handle alternates. Instead, individual activity directors are responsible for alternative rosters, and are recommended to give preferential treatment to cadets who are not attending other NCSAs.

Due to the high rank requirements and vast differences in curriculum, the selection process for International Air Cadet Exchange and Cadet Officer School may be significantly different from the selection process outlined above.