My middle boy is 12. This past spring he joined the local Civil Air Patrol chapter. Being a child who loves structure and schedules and routines and doing things by the book and playing by the rules he took well to it. He liked how they marched in formation and did drills and wore uniforms according to specific guidelines.
The CAP program is a cadet program of the Air Force, so it gives the cadets a little bit of a taste of what life is like in the military. So far, he has loved it. This summer he had a chance to go with the group to an encampment on an active military base in Southern Indiana. At first I wasn't sure how he would do with it. He's only 12. I can count on one hand the times he has spent the night somewhere other than home. All but one were at his grandparent's house. The other was when he was about 9. He went to spend the night at a friend's house on New Year's Eve. About 10:30, we got a call from him that he wanted to come home. But, he's older now. He's gotten to know the kids in the group.
So, he left on a Friday afternoon with his dad driving him and a few other cadets to the base. Dad came home with my son's phone. He wouldn't be able to use it on the base. It's been hard not being able to talk to him for several days. There is a website for the camp and three days in I got a glimpse of him in a photo. That in itself was a little shocking. He hates having his picture taken. And he's been very ambivalent about going up in an airplane despite being in the Civil AIR Patrol. But there he was in the photo standing in front of a plane with a certificate in his hand indicating he had flown. He was giving a thumbs up and had a little smile on his face. It was so nice to see that image of him.
Camp will soon be done and he'll be back home. I can't wait to hear about it. 9 days away from home I'm sure will have an impact on him. I've missed him, but I'm so thankful he's had this opportunity to experience life away from home doing something he enjoys.