FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 25, 2015) -- More than 100 youth are visiting Fort Leonard Wood this week to learn more about military life from Soldiers, as a part of the Civil Air Patrol Encampment Week.

"The summer encampment is pivotal to the junior cadet's future career," said William Sanders, Civil Air Patrol encampment commander. "They come here for a week to learn more about the military lifestyle in sessions such as: military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremonies and a wide variety of activities to better themselves."

According to Sanders, this camp is more than just an opportunity to experience the military lifestyle, but is an opportunity to give them a headstart on their careers.

"This is a chance for the cadets to earn their first major milestone award, which is the Bill E. Mitchell Award," Sanders said. "Once they have that, they can get an advanced rank when they join the military, a better opportunity to get into the different service academies, and they have scholarship opportunities."

About 80 percent of youth who take part in this camp have little to no military connection, Sanders said.

"There are students here from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and even Minnesota," Sanders said. "This is not only their first time to be around the military, but also their first time away for home."

Andrew Sites, of Leeton, Missouri, said having the opportunity to spend a week at Fort Leonard Wood is one of the coolest things he has gotten to do.

"It's awesome that the Army lets us come," Sites said. "We have barracks, a dining facility and fun places that we probably couldn't find anywhere else."

According to Sites, Fort Leonard Wood has numerous activities to offer the attending cadets.

"Cadets who attended camp last summer had the chance to do the obstacle course and tour the museum and this year we are able to do the Engagement Skills Trainer, Leadership Reaction Course and Confidence Course," Sites said.

He said getting to spend the week interacting with Soldiers is something that gives him insight into what it is like to be apart of the military.

"It's stressful to watch the Soldiers do their jobs, but to think that one day you might be in those shoes is really cool," Sites said.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, have given their time to make a difference in the lives of these cadets.

"1-48 has been providing support to the summer encampment as a way to help the Civil Air Patrol train these cadets as future leaders of America," said Capt. Timothy Curtis, 1-48 BN operations officer.

Curtis said the Soldiers helped with several of the activities.

"1-48 Infantry Battalion's level of involvement has been assisting the Civil Air Patrol with resourcing the summer encampment and providing the site support for the Engagement Skills Trainer, Leadership Reaction Course and the Confidence Course," Curtis said.

Curtis hopes the Cadets will have more than just memories of the week.

"I hope the youth take away increased confidence in themselves, learn good leadership qualities and have a better understanding of the Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. military, in general," Curtis said.

(Editor's note: Resel is a Volunteer for Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs.)