CRANE, Ind. -- Navy Junior ROTC cadets from nine high schools across Indiana and Illinois came together for the annual Basic Leadership Training camp at the Crane Army Ammunition Activity June 26-30.

The students enriched their teamwork, leadership, citizenship, and physical fitness abilities at CAAA's reserve compound, and also improved their science, technology, engineering, and math skills. The cadets, many meeting for the first time, worked in groups to successfully navigate different challenges, including drill team mechanics, water and boating safety, orienteering, and a science project.

"It really is about making them work as a team and learn how to lead," Navy Capt. (ret.) Neil May, Senior Naval Science Instructor for Washington High School NJROTC, said. "We teach them how to manage their time, practice discipline and teamwork, and set goals."

Basic Leadership Training, or BLT, is generally for students who have completed one year as a cadet and have demonstrated passion for the NJROTC program as well as the potential for leadership. May emphasized the outreach aspect. "This is not a boot camp. We're here to mentor the kids," he said. "These are your future leaders."

Cadets bunked, drilled, and worked at the CAAA reserve compound, while the base's marina and hiking trails were used for athletic competitions, navigation challenges, and safety instruction. The ability to use the compound without charge was vital to keeping the camp affordable for students. "We couldn't do the camp without the base, without the Army and the Navy allowing us to use the compound here," May said, as he expressed thanks to CAAA and Naval Support Activity Crane.

Over the past five years, the number of attendees rose significantly. This year, the camp operated close to capacity with the highest number of female participants in its history. The 2017 program hosted equal numbers of males and females for a total of 86 campers.

Jocelyn Gadbury, a former BLT attendee, enjoyed the program so much she returned this year as a volunteer. "I love seeing the cadets make friends with other people. I'm still in contact with some people I met at camp," she said. "It's a great life experience."

While at Crane, students developed skills that will translate well to any career, including the military, STEM fields, and eventual leadership positions.

"The camp teaches us different aspects of being a leader, like taking initiative and responsibility," Cadet Seaman Ryan Tollett of Bloomfield Jr.-Sr. High School said. He hopes his BLT training will help him achieve his dream of becoming an oral surgeon.

Participating schools included Anderson High School, Ind.; Bloomfield Jr.-Sr. High School, Ind.; Daviess County High School, Ind.; Floyd Central High School, Ind.; New Albany High School, Ind.; Pike High School, Ind.; Proviso West High School, Ill.; Washington High School, Ind.; and Westinghouse High School, Ill.

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.