On May 31, 11 cadets from the JROTC program at White County High School loaded a bus enroute to Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center, in Kentucky. These cadets were selected to participate in the annual summer camp called the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge or JCLC.
This camp is organized by US Army Cadet Command 7th Brigade for schools, with Army JROTC programs from Kentucky and Tennessee. Ten schools and their instructors joined together to create “Alpha Company” for the first training cycle, with 107 cadets and 11 instructors. Upon arriving at the training center, the Cadets were assigned to an Army barracks they would call home for the next four days of training.
Over the four days, the cadets participated in many training events that soldiers in the Army would do on a daily basis. The events included a physical fitness test, water survival techniques, leadership development course, rafting operations, obstacle course, land navigation, field survival techniques, one rope bridge, and a cadet favorite, rappelling. Likewise, cadets were chosen to serve as a squad leader, platoon leader, platoon sergeant, company first sergeant, or company commander and given the opportunity to lead their peers and JROTC cadets from other high schools for a period of 24 hours or so. Cadets soon learned that leading other teenagers can be quite challenging!
The physical fitness test simulates the test that soldiers would take in the Army. The cadets try to complete as many push-ups and sit-ups as they can in one minute for each event, and then they have to run one mile as fast as they can. Each event is awarded with a score that corresponds to repetitions for the push-up and sit-ups and their time for the one-mile run. The top scoring male and female cadets were recognized and awarded a plaque during the awards ceremony.
For water survival, the cadets were bused to the community pool where they were taught how to use the Army uniform as a floatation device. They were tested with trying to swim the length of the pool, while carrying a weighted pipe above the water to simulate carrying a weapon. Then they had to learn the proper way to enter the water from simulated helicopter from both the high and low dive. The cadets that completed all these events on the first time competed against each other to see who was the best. White County had three of the five best swimmers, with Cadet Alexis Jones being awarded the top swimmer award and recognized as the “Distinguished Honor Graduate” for water survival for the company.
During the leadership development course, the cadets were challenged to work together and practice leadership skills they learned throughout the year in JROTC and that will help them in any career field they pursue in the future. They were organized into small groups, and the leader of the group had to determine how to the team was going to negotiate the various obstacles. In all, the squads had the opportunity to negotiate 11 obstacles so each squad member was afforded the opportunity to lead their squad.
The rafting operations is an event that most cadets looked forward to. Organized into teams of 10, cadets were taught the commands and how to execute those commands to maneuver the Zodiac rafts around buoys in the lake. Once all of the teams had their chance to learn try out their skills, the teams all raced against each other. And the obvious water fights between the rafts naturally ensued!
The obstacle course made the cadets push themselves past their own limits to prove to themselves that they can go further than they thought. Crawling over, jumping, climbing ropes, and shimmying under all pushed the cadets to prove their worth.
The land navigation course taught them how to use a compass and a map to navigate from one point to another. They had to work as a team to traverse the rough terrain, locate their assigned points, and return to the starting point in a given amount of time…without getting lost in the woods.
Field survival gave the cadets some knowledge on how to survive in the wilderness, such as starting a fire, collecting water, and building a shelter.
The rappel tower was the major event that all cadets were looking forward to. Cadets gained confidence in the equipment by first descending down a 12-foot 45-degree angled wall. Then the cadets rappel off of platforms that progressively get higher, from a 20-foot wall, a 40-foot wall, and eventually an open face “free fall” descending 40 feet to the ground. For those who complete the five types of rappelling, they are awarded the highly coveted rappelling arc pin which they are authorized to wear on their uniform. All 11 cadets earned their rappelling arc and plan to wear it proudly.
First year Cadet Morgaine Boyd said, “[JCLC] taught me to a better leader and aid other cadets in [their] journey. I now know that timing means everything when accomplishing a goal.”
Cadet Seairra Heady, who is going into her fourth year in JROTC, said, “JCLC this year gave me an opportunity to push my boundaries, and go to limits I never thought I could.”
While all WCHS JROTC cadets who participated in JCLC exceeded expectations, Cadet Morgaine Boyd was recognized as the “Outstanding Leader” for first platoon for her performance as squad leader. Serving as the Instructor company commander and first sergeant for Alpha Company, both LTC Johnson and SFC Moore agree that attending JCLC and watching the cadets learn, and grow, and practice what they’ve learned over their time in JROTC is the best part of the year.
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