Civil Air Patrol Comes To Gulfport

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- This is Alexandria Hall's first trip to encampment.  The high school student says she's not sure what she wants to do with her life, but she's hoping the Civil Air Patrol will give her some direction.

"I know I'll take a lot from Civil Air Patrol whether I realize it or not," said Hall.

The week-long encampment serves as an introduction to military life.  It includes physical training, hands-on activities, and academic classes.

"Whether or not they decide to make a career in the military later in life doesn't really matter to us, it's great if they do, but we want to build is leaders," said Captain Justin Smith, Encampment Commander.

Stephanie Petelos, a cadet commander, is one of those leaders.  She's been in the patrol for 6 years and served on staff 7 times.

"I'm probably one of the few people not going to into the military, but I don't know where I would be without Civil Air Patrol today," said Petelos.

Petelos says the lessons the cadets will learn are ones they can carry with them throughout their lives.

"Dealing with people, dealing with social problems and how to work with different personalities," said Petelos.

Sunday's briefing included a visit from Erinn Scott, a former honor cadet, who talked to incoming cadets about the Air Force Academy.

Though the cadets have yet to experience what's in store for them, Cadet Hall, says she's already making plans to recruit others.

"Being I got out of the house and ended up staying in Civil Air Patrol maybe I can get some of my friends out of their houses," said Hall.

If you would like more information about the camp, call (601) 616-7470.