Role of the Senior MemberThe senior members' role is as a mentor -- a "wise and trusted counselor" -- to cadet staff officers who run the encampment. You may be assigned as a mentor to a flight commander or to the Officer in Charge of an Executive Staff unit, such as public affairs, administration, or mess ops. Or you may come as a Cadet Orientation Pilot.
Flight Training Officers (Formerly Flight Mentors)
There are generally around 8 flights, broken into two squadrons. The command and sergeant of each unit has a Flight Mentor.
Flight Training Officers (FTO) accompany their flights wherever they go and sleep in the same barracks. They mostly observe, make sure safety is not compromised, and are there to advise cadet leaders who encounter problems.
Executive Staff Mentors
The Executive Officer and Officers in Charge of the Executive Staff units each have a senior mentor. These units include Administration, Mess Ops, Communications, Public Affairs, Logistics, Flight Ops, and Medical. These mentors usually have experience and skills in the specialities of each unit, and are able to help them grow.
The Training and Standards and Evaluation units, under the Commandant of Cadets, also have senior mentors to guide the cadet OICs.
Mentors do not do the cadets' jobs for them, but they are responsible for insuring that the job gets done: Services gets everyone fed, Flights Ops maintains the highest level of safety, Medical deals expertly with injuries or illness, and that the units perform well.
Units that do not have full-time mentors are prone to chronic problems. So we strive not to assign members as mentors who cannot commit to be with their units the entire time.
We do not do orientation flying every year. It depends on the availability of funds, and the availability of adequate facilities. When we do have orientation flights they usually start on Sunday and are finished by Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the weather. This isn't a drop-by operation. Pilots must contact the Flight Academy Director, and like all participants, must have a completed encampment application on file with the registrar and be named on the Military Support Authorization. All this must be done at least 10 days before the encampment starts.
Some pilots arrive, fly, and go home, others remain and are assigned to the Senior Support Staff. All seniors must take the Required Staff Training course.
Senior Support Staff
Unpredictables pop up daily in any operation this large and complex, where so much activity is packed into such a short period of time. Senior Support Staff were established to deal with these issues.
It may mean driving to a shopping mall to pick up urgently needed supplies, or to accompany a cadet or senior to an emergency room. You may step into a unit that is short-handed, for a couple of days, or for the duration. Many discrete tasks are outside the units' duties, such as nightime CQ patrol, or decorating a room for the staff dinner. Instead of treating the unexpected as a crisis or taking someone away from normal duties to cope with it, we can now send assistance quickly to where it's needed.
Senior Support Staff is an all-Senior department, staffed by experienced, part-time, and new encampment seniors, offering both expertise and the opportunity for the new to get familiar with operations. SSS members may be part-time, but are not casual visitors. They are dedicated members, with clear duties and a defined period of service.
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