By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)July 30, 2015
Summer camp took on a new meaning at Fort Leonard Wood's U.S. Army Military Police School this year.
Instead of campfires with s'mores and outings on the lake, law enforcement explorers woke before dawn to participate in physical readiness training and field-training exercises alongside a team of drill sergeants.
Thirty young adults, ages 15 to 20, had the opportunity to train with members of the Military Police Corps during this year's weeklong National Law Enforcement Explorer Academy, held on post July 11 to 18.
The biennial academy provides practical training and leadership experience, as well as an exploration of careers within the Military Police Corps.
Explorers participated in hands-on training to gain an understanding of military police work, such as protective services, law enforcement and confinement operations, traffic and patrol incidents and the military working dog program, said 1st Lt. Andrew Jazbec, Company E, 701st Military Police Battalion executive officer.
"In a very compressed timeline, the explorers completed some of the best and most exciting training we have to offer our military police Soldiers of all ranks," Jazbec said.
Similar to Soldiers in initial-entry training, explorers arose at 4:30 in the morning, with lights out at around 9 p.m., he added.
The Physical Endurance Course was the most memorable event, according to Jazbec, because of the lessons explorers learned in leadership and teamwork.
"All the training the explorers completed at this academy was team based," he said. "They quickly learned that without teamwork they are far less successful."
Jazbec said he was impressed with this year's group of explorers.
"The level of commitment these high school-aged explorers show is remarkable," he said. "Attendees to this year's academy arrived with good physical fitness already in their background. The top PT (physical training) awardee ran his mile in under six minutes."
"At a young age, they are already making a decision to do something selfless that not everyone can do," Jazbec added. "Instead of getting into trouble or staying out late, these young people are devoting their free time to learning about law enforcement and becoming better citizens. They maintain good grades, as well, which is one of the program requirements."
The week culminated in a graduation ceremony, July 17, at the Military Police Memorial Grove, where 1st Lt. Steven Wynne, a former law enforcement explorer, spoke to the 2015 class of graduates from Fort Leonard Wood's Explorer program.
"Learn from your experience in the program, but do not rest on your laurels," Wynne said to this year's graduating class.
Wynne, who currently commands Company B, 787th Military Police Battalion, emphasized the importance of always pushing hard to accomplish goals and putting it all on the table to achieve great things.
"Your experiences can frame the way that you see things, but never allow them to give you a false sense of confidence," he said. "Mental agility and the ability to change is critical to you going out and winning. Go out and win -- everyday."
Jazbec said that overall, the program benefits the future of law enforcement.
"Federal, state and local agencies pour countless hours of experience into these young people, and it pays dividends," he said. "The explorer program enables law enforcement agencies to pull back the curtain and allow youth growing up to really see if that career is one that will interest them."
"Watching the explorers develop over the short week was more than I expected," Jazbec said. "You could physically see a change in the way they carried themselves."
"The cadre who supported us were extremely professional and technically proficient -- true experts in their craft," he added.
Explorers are selected from across the United States to attend the academy through a competitive application process.
This year, Fort Leonard Wood was one of three academies offering the program, according to Jazbec.
Jazbec said, since the last academy, which was held in 2013, seven explorers have enlisted in the Army.