On any given summer day the Frog Falls aquatic park here is packed with families and service members looking for a fun day in the sun, whether it includes swimming, sun bathing, gliding down one of the park's water slides or going for a stroll down the lazy river.

On Saturday, Aug.7,the aquatic park's mission took a different direction. The pool became a combat zone.

Future Soldiers prepared for some of the training they would undergo at boot camp by learning how to use combat water survival techniques to their advantage.

Wearing uniform tops and bottoms and standing on a bench at the edge of the deep end of the pool, the future Soldiers added load-bearing equipment (LBE) and a rifle to their arsenal while a recruiter assisted them in placing a blindfold over their faces.

After receiving instructions to keep their weapon above the water, the future soldiers were pushed backwards into the pool. They had to remove their gear and blindfolds while holding the rifle above their heads and swim back to the edge of the pool.

The recruits also had to conduct a 15-meter swim and remove their LBEs while underwater,then swim back to the side of the pool.

Recruits were instructed on how to make a floatation device out of both their uniforms and their ruck sacks.

Staff Sgt. Robert Lanier gave the recruits a taste of what to expect at boot camp. Withis his deep voice, he administered tongue-lashings to the young men and women.

"Hurry up, hurry up. You are moving too slow," Lanier said repeatedly.

Along with their essential survival information, recruits were treated to a grueling physical training water exercise.

While in the wading pool the recruits ran in place, conducted flutter kicks and pumped push-ups before running upstairs to the lazy river, a rafting canal.

At this pseudo river, the future Soldiers ran against the current before emerging from the river and running back to the wading pool.

Once back in the wading pool, the cycle began all over again. As time passed by,Lanier's tone got no softer.

A total of 35 future Soldiers participated along with two Army Reserve Soldiers stationed here with the 7245th Medical Support Company.

"This training gives our future Soldiers a taste of life in the regular Army,and will introduce them to the rigors of military training," said Capt. Rafal Stachowski, commanding officer, North Jersey Recruiting Company.

"They learned valuable water survival skills that might save a life in the future," he continued. "Plus it will be a fun way to build a cohesive unit. These men and women will someday serve shoulder to shoulder, and it is a good idea that they know each other ahead of time."

After the training concluded, the recruits experienced what it's like to eat field rations.They could also ask questions of Stachowski and other Soldiers.

"I saw some very energetic, enthusiastic, and scared young men and women, experiencing what it's like to find yourself in unpredictable situations,"said Maureen Tsadilas, business manager at the water park.

"These future Soldiers were met with very difficult challenges such as complete submersion with a weapon and gear strapped to their backs," she added.

"The endurance and perseverance of these young men and women shone brightly and left them exhausted but accomplished."

The 520,000 gallon aquatic park was recently named the best public pool in New Jersey and is open to the communities of Rockaway Township, Rockaway Borough, Jefferson, Wharton, Denville, Dover, Roxbury, Mine Hill, West Milford, Sparta and Boonton.

Membership also is open to military veterans and Morris County first responders and their dependents.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16