BUILDING leadership skills and confidence among its members has been the mission of the Mount Airy Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.
The squadron, just 6 years old, has been honored as one of the top seven squadrons in the country, receiving the Civil Air Patrol's Unit Citation for "exceptionally meritorious service and outstanding achievement."
"If we have confidence, we're going to give it to our cadets," said Maj. Judith McLellan, the squadron commander.
"This is really unusual and an honor, receiving such an award being a relatively new squadron," McLellan said. "But we have such a wide base of expertise here in Mount Airy, from Green Berets to entertainers to rocket scientists - all giving their particular strengths to the squadron."
The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the Air Force formed in 1941 to assist in homeland security. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the Civil Air Patrol has taken on a similar mission.
"Our training has changed since 9-11, to be more technical," McLellan said. She said that the specifics are confidential, but that the Civil Air Patrol may be called upon to help provide homeland defense.
The Mount Airy squadron has more than 50 members, 30 active cadets and 20 seniors.
Cadets must be at least 12 years old or entering sixth grade to join. Seniors must be older than 18. The Mount Airy squadron's oldest senior is 70 years old.
Cadets and seniors participate in all aspects of training, including survival training, ground searches, radio classes and 10 hours of flight orientation. The Civil Air Patrol in Maryland maintains 15 to 20 aircraft for its use.
Seniors may qualify to receive training as pilots, observers who help look for missing people from the air, or scanners who work the radios on flights. Civil Air Patrol squadrons have participated in air searches for missing Alzheimer's patients and searches over the Chesapeake Bay for missing boaters.
"Many of our cadets are not planning to join the military, but if we can have some positive influence on their lives when there is so much bad stuff out there then we've done our job," McLellan said.
She recounted the story of a timid cadet who told her how much being a part of the squadron meant to him. "He said to me, `Here, when I talk, people actually listen. They act like what I have to say is important.' That, to me, says it all," McLellan said.
Members of the Mount Airy Squadron have traveled to other countries as representatives of the Civil Air Patrol.
McLellan will lead a group of cadets from across the country to Canada this summer as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange program.
The Mount Airy Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol meets at 7 p.m. Thursdays at Mount Airy Senior Center, 703 Ridge Ave.
Rides, entertainment and lots of traditional carnival foods will be available at the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department's 38th annual carnival, which opens Monday night.
"People don't understand that this is much more than just a carnival," said Sue Hubble, a paramedic with the department. "It's a social event where you meet your neighbors or see people you haven't seen in a while. It's a place to take the kids for rides and, of course, the entertainment and the food including funnel cakes and crab cakes pan-fried in a cast-iron skillet."
The carnival will run through July 13, opening each night at 6 p.m. The carnival rides will open at 7 p.m. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, wristbands are available for $13 for unlimited rides.
The fire department will sell wristbands in advance at its firehouse on Route 26 for $7. Wristbands will be sold from 7 to 9 tonight and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.
The fire prevention queen contest will be held Monday.
The annual parade is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, beginning at Winfield Elementary School and ending at the carnival grounds.
Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.