Twenty two cadets from Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High School's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps participated in a basic mountaineering course hosted by Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Alaska's Northern Warfare Training Center at Black Rapids Training Site Aug. 9, as part of the school's Summer Leadership Camp.
As part of the mountaineering familiarization, NWTC cadre took the cadets on a hike, taught them to rappel down cliff faces, and had a small group participate in a Prusik Ascent race, essentially a race to the top of a small cliff using a knotted rope attached to a guide rope.
The cadets' enthusiasm was on display as flights chanted mottos and responded to calls for hydration, but as the day wore on several participants had to overcome their fear of heights.
Ridge Majarian, a third year cadet on his third trip to BRTS said overcoming the fear involved in mountaineering is really good for cohesion, "It definitely helps us come together as a team."
"I think it's important," said Majarian of the event's inclusion in the camp, "You see the positive side, and the realistic side of the military."
Staff Sgt. Jack Stacy, an operations noncommissioned officer with the Northern Warfare Training Center and a former instructor said the course is a toned-down version of their 14-day mountaineering course, "They're not getting the intense instruction on how to set up the systems, we're just giving them a run-down on how to use the systems and some of the equipment."
"Simple things that will keep the attention of high school students, but not to the point where it's going to create an unsafe environment."
Community interaction with the military is common in Alaska, but the cadre of BRTS relished the enthusiasm of the cadets.
"Interactions like this, where we have individuals from the community come in and we give them a taste of our day to day life, in my perspective, lets them overcome their fears," said Stacy, "It kind of opens up their horizons like, 'OK hey I'm living in Alaska and these are things that I can do.'"
Stacy said BRTS's inclusion in the Summer Leadership Camp is an important way for the Army to give back to the community.
Sgt. Adriana Zendejas, an instructor-in-training at with NWTC, said, "The whole event itself, I think is just amazing."
"It's a great idea that they're letting the JROTC cadets come here and experience this, because it's not an everyday thing."