17:00 PM

Civil Air Patrol Launches ‘Walk to Mars’

Beginning Friday, many of Civil Air Patrol’s 64,000 members will take their first steps on a physical fitness challenge for the organization that’s literally out of this world.

Civil Air Patrol Walks to Mars involves “collecting” the distances necessary to reach Mars from Earth — 33.9 million miles. The year-long challenge from CAP’s National Task Force for Wellness and Resilience provides a unique and fun way to motivate all of the organization’s personnel, not just membership, to participate in a wide variety of popular sport and fitness activities on a regular basis.

“The Board of Governors and the national leadership are interested in the health and well-being of all members and their families,” said Col. John Knowles, who is overseeing the challenge as director of the task force.

“Healthy volunteers are the foundation for CAP mission success,” Knowles said, adding that the challenge supports National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith’s vision “to excel in service to our members.” Smith announced the campaign today at the CAP National Conference in Baltimore.

While walking is the baseline activity for the challenge, all fitness activities earn steps and distance credit based on a scientifically derived scale of effort expended during the exercise.

Here’s how CAP personnel can contribute:

  • Know the program and share.
    Every member contributes distance based on the activity chart accessible through the information page on CAP’s main website — GoCivilAirPatrol.com. Members report distances or steps for walking, hiking and volksmarching. All other activities – over 90 – receive credit for steps-per-minute based on total time reported.
  • Report your activities.
    Members can report their activities daily or weekly through simple forms available online. Units can report for their members. Unit and wing statistics will be compiled regularly.
  • Encourage others in your unit
    This is a team activity, so encourage each other to participate.

“Ultimately, Civil Air Patrol wins with every step and every activity,” said Smith, who formally announced the physical fitness challenge this morning at CAP’s National Conference in Baltimore. “Healthy members are the most important assets to achieve success and excellence in every mission.”

To provide a "test flight" for the program, this summer members of the National Headquarters staff challenged themselves to collect the fitness distances necessary to cover from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to the National Conference in Baltimore while visiting as many wing headquarters as they could along the way. This week the participants arrived at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront with over 4,500 miles of distance, which allowed them to virtually visit 24 headquarters in 24 different states before showing up at the Inner Harbor site.

As part of the Civil Air Patrol Walks to Mars challenge, CAP’s 52 wings will be competing against each other. To ensure a fair contest, the competition between wings is based on accumulating more than a prorated value of the 33.9 million miles. The target values are based on wing membership as of Aug. 1, 2019. The greater the percentage of distance a wing accumulates over its assigned value, the higher it will score compared to other wings.

Members of the task force say there will also be opportunities for individual recognition.