By Minnie JonesJune 26, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Tx --- More than 260 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets came together at Camp Bullis from high schools all over south Texas, some from as far away as Pharr, Texas, to participate in the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge June 9 to 14.
The summer camp is designed to motivate young cadets to become better citizens through encouragement, interaction and communication.
All of the activities conducted during the camp were geared toward team building and bolstering self-esteem. The activities scheduled for the week included rappelling, rope bridges, physical training, the obstacle course, drown proofing, survival training and the Leadership Reaction Course.
Col. Robert Henson, camp commander, said, "It is all about leadership, it's all about overcoming fear, and it's all about changing the cadets' attitude from I can't, to I've done it."
This was the first time Cadet Pvt. Barry Schneider, from Harker Heights High School, attended the challenge. He said he joined JROTC to give himself a challenge. He said he wasn't much of a leadership person, so he joined to build his character. When it came to the 65-foot rappel tower, he was doubtful he could do it.
"I really didn't think I could do it (the rappel tower), but I pushed myself to do it. Once I did it - it made me stop doubting myself and gave me confidence to do what I needed to do, and not be scared anymore," said Schneider.
This camp is not only about building leadership and encouraging self-esteem it is also about having fun. Cadet Sgt. Michael Tovar from McCollum High School, San Antonio, said that he learned about leadership and responsibilities at the camp.
"I am having a lot of fun here. I thought it was going to be easy, but it is not," said Tovar, who added the worst part was waking up at 4 a.m.
The Leadership Reaction Course, which was presented toward the end of camp, is a learning facility that develops and evaluates leadership and teaches on-the-spot thinking.
Cadets are broken down into teams and must demonstrate initiative, teamwork, common sense and leadership ability. The course is divided into 17 challenges, each with a given scenario, where teams have to think and solve problems. Throughout the course, cadets receive feedback on techniques, strengths and weaknesses.
Tactical NCO 1st Sgt. William Parr, from Winston Churchill High School, San Antonio, who has been an instructor for six years, said the Leadership Reaction Course is about team building.
"The kids are being challenged, mentally and physically, as far as decision-making and how to overcome obstacles. What they also learn is team building, in that someone has to be in charge and that someone has to give instructions or otherwise it becomes total chaos. Once they accomplish the task, they will have a sense of satisfaction that they have done something that they have never done before," said Parr.
It is about teamwork and truly believing in the concept of the team, where everyone together achieves more, said Henson.
The weeklong event ended with an awards presentation, graduation ceremony and picnic.