CRANE, Ind. -- Crane Army and Navy welcomed 70 Navy Junior ROTC students for their Basic Leadership and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Training summer camp July 5-9.

NJROTC programs from eight schools in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Georgia came together at Crane Army Ammunition Activity's reserve facility located on Naval Support Activity Crane to focus on leadership principles, team-oriented sports competitions, drill team mechanics, and practical application. Through athletic competitions, innovative technology challenges, orienteering, and personnel inspections cadets learned leadership skills and how to be effective as a team.

Crane Army has been able to provide the program with an ideal location to hold its five day summer camp for the past five years.

"This year was the best camp in our five years of hosting it at NSA Crane," Navy Capt. (ret.) Neil May, senior naval science instructor for Washington High School NJROTC, said. "The ability of the camp to attract schools from multiple states is partly due to having the safe and secure Crane Army facility on the Navy base. "It is vital, it is crucial to our program and our cadets. It is a unique happenstance of capabilities that align perfectly to NJROTC making it an ideal place to hold a camp."

Cadets stayed on the compound facility, the Crane Ammunition and Logistics Center, free of charge making the camp more affordable allowing local area high schools to send eligible cadets to the camp at a lower cost. The program also utilized the marina, ballfields, and gymnasium to host various team-oriented athletic competitions to test and challenge cadets.

"About four years ago, Capt. May successfully negotiated permission with the base authorities to provide the cadets with a camp. Crane is centrally located to all of the participating schools, which is one of the reasons it was attractive to us," Navy Chief Petty Officer (ret.) Barry Reister, naval science instructor for Washington High School NJROTC, said. "When we found out what kind of treasure Crane is, we knew we made the right decision."

Since Crane has held the summer camp, the program has grown significantly in its ability to expose young cadets to leadership opportunities and new experiences.

"The program has grown in number of cadets and aides attending, and this is indicative of the buzz that BLT and NSA Crane are generating among the NJROTC community," May said. "We have grown stronger in our relationships with the fine people who work at NSA Crane. They are 100 percent behind the idea of taking kids from every economic and social background and teaching them some virtuous principles of life, which in turn builds strong character."

Reister agreed that the camp provides a unique opportunity to watch young leaders grow. "You take a group of kids who don't know each other, and over the course of two or three days you see them come together as a team. It makes the effort on the part of the instructors really worth it," he said.

For many cadets, the camp is an opportunity that comes with many first-time experiences. Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Blade Steele from Washington High School NJROTC made his second trip to Crane this summer, and was able to experience a leadership role this time around. Steele, who plans to enlist in the Marine Corps after high school, was excited to be on base and see first-hand how it operates.

"This is the first time I've been leading cadets. It's very rewarding to be able to help mold these cadets into better leaders," Steele said. "I definitely feel this program is helping me towards my future goals."

Participating schools included Anderson High School, Indiana; Bloomfield High School, Indiana; Daviess County High School, Kentucky; New Albany High School, Indiana; Pike High School, Indiana; Proviso West High School, Illinois; Union Grove High School, Georgia; and Washington High School, Indiana.

Established Oct. 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides logistical support to meet conventional munitions requirements in support of Joint Force readiness. It is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants.