CRANE, Ind. -- Science and leadership combined for a week of determination, perseverance and learning as Crane Army and Navy played host to 78 Navy Junior ROTC students June 22-25 at a Leadership and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics camp.
The ten schools participating in the 2015 Basic Leadership And STEM Training Camp came from Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Georgia. The students gathered on the Navy base at Crane Army Ammunition Activity's reserve compound for a week of barrack inspections, personnel inspections, orienteering (land navigation), general military training, physical fitness, and STEM sessions including the rocket building.
"This is a wonderful place to incubate great kids and teach them how to be great leaders without any distractions. Here they are surrounded by mentors and trained military folks who are able to schedule and execute positive training events all week," Navy Capt. (ret.) Neil May, Senior Naval Science Instructor for Washington High School NJROTC, said.
The ability of the BLAST camp to attract schools from multiple states is partly due to having a safe and secure facility located in Southern Indiana. May said, "Crane's support in providing this camp is so vital to the training of the up-and-coming leadership in ten high schools that range as far south as Union Grove in McDonough, Ga., to as far north as Hillside, Ill."
Sixty-eight students were mixed into three platoons named after the U.S. Navy's core values, honor, courage and commitment. During the course of the week as the students got to know each other and work together as a team, they earned the right to unfurl their platoon's guidon flag. Assisting the students were 10 student aides, who are upper-classmen in their NJROTC programs.
"We basically teach them discipline, team work, and self-reliance so that one day they can be a leader," Mercedes Wilcox, commitment platoon aide from Bloomfield High School, said. "Our platoon was the first to unravel our guidon because we came together as a team on the first day."
The lessons the students learn at the camp go beyond just successfully completing the week though. May explained, "These kids go back to their high schools and those leadership qualities spread out to other kids they interact with. The principles they learn here are valuable to them their whole lives. Some of them have never been in the woods before, never applied their classroom learning to a hands-on experience. This gives them an opportunity to apply STEM to something practical--by building a rocket, understanding the principles involved, then finally shooting it off--all while working as a team."
Crane Army provided the use of the compound facility, known as the Crane Ammunition and Logistics Center, free of charge in support of the BLAST Camp. According to Crane Army's Deputy to the Commander Norman Thomas, the benefit of supporting the camp is the chance to reach young minds with STEM.
"Regardless if it is Army or Navy JROTC, what is important is being able help develop these students. No matter if they use it in the military or in their local community when they grow up, this course enables them to be better citizens," Thomas said.
The schools participating were Anderson High School, Ind.; Bloom Township High School, Ill.; Bloom Trail High School, Ill.; Bloomfield High School, Ind.; Daviess County High School, Ky.; New Albany High School, Ind.; Pike High School, Ind.; Proviso West High School, Ill.; Union Grove High School, Ga.; and Washington High School, Ind.
Established October 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. It is located on Naval Support Activity, Crane.