A group of Junior ROTC Cadets recently returned from a weeklong summer training event that can only be described as “grueling.”
Twenty-one student cadets from the Van Horn program participated in the camp, which is part of the Junior ROTC Cadet Leadership Camp, organized and resourced by U.S. Army Cadet Command. The camp is conducted at Wentworth Military Academy and Junior College in Lexington, Mo.
Lt. Col. Mike Byrd, sponsor of the Van Horn ROTC program, said this cycle of JCLC included almost 400 high school cadets from various JROTC detachments across Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas. It also included student cadets from Army, Air Force and Marine Corps JROTC programs.
Van Horn cadets attending the JCLC “summer camp” from the Army JROTC program were Mason Drew, Caleb Perryman, Anthony Chowning, Cody Kleopple, Fredrick Fleming, Austin Dupin, Zachary Marshall, Joshua Ramirez, Racquel Merino-Hill, Justin Marshall, “Mimi” Hernandez, Justin Warren, Casey Dupin, Lucas Dunlap, Shantaha Persinger, Nicholas Dunlap, Madison Knoder, Brent Cusick, Rusty Worley, Kenneth Butcher and Marcus Wilkins.
“The cadets are mixed and assigned to blended small group units – forcing cadets to work together with unfamiliar coworkers in demanding and unfamiliar circumstances and situations designed to motivate team building and cooperative learning,” Byrd said. “The Army JROTC program is a citizenship education program for high school students. It is a cooperative and cost-shared education program between the U.S. Army Cadet Command and local school districts.”
Van Horn is the only school in the Independence School District to offer a ROTC program. The goal is to help cadets develop the ability to think logically as well as to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. They also develop physically and learn the importance of fitness and good health to a successful well-rounded life. Byrd said attending the JCLC summer camp is the capstone event for cadets in the Army JROTC leadership/citizenship development program.
“Throughout the week, cadets confront difficult and challenging events, activities and tasks designed to develop and assess their individual and team leadership skills,” he said. “Cadets are assigned various leadership roles. Their performance, conduct and execution of duties in those roles is evaluated and critiqued extensively by the training cadre. The training cadre operates as trainers, mentors and coaches for the cadets during the demanding summer camp experience.”
Each day of camp begins at 4 a.m. The cadets must then particpate in a variety of physical activities, including a Cadet Challenge physical fitness test, a shuttle run, a one-mile run, water safety and survival skills, rappel training and a Leadership Reaction Course, which involved problem-solving skills and team building exercises. Cadets also had to learn how to tie a “Swiss seat,” how to rig for rappel operations and learned other rope- and knot-tying skills.
The camp ended with a Platoon Competition Day. Each 40-member training platoon competed head-to-head against all other school-based platoons for the “Best by Test” designation. Cadet Marcus Wilkins was selected to serve as the company commander for the graduation parade and received the Second Platoon Outstanding Leadership Award. In addition, Cadet Zachary Marshall was selected to march as a member of the battalion color guard and Cadet Raquel Merino-Hill sang the national anthem as a part of the graduation parade activities.
Page 2 of 2 - “Teams of cadets (in the LRC) confronted situations and scenarios which initially seemed impossible to solve with the limited available equipment at hand,” Byrd said. “As a group, with creativeness and innovation, each team worked together in an effort to fulfill the mission requirements for each of the LRC stations. Some solutions worked more effectively than others. Some did not work out at all, however, each attempt provided valuable hands-on lessons to be learned from confronting the challenge.”