By Ms. Megan Garcia (Benning)June 13, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 13, 2018) - Overcoming one's fear, learning the importance of teamwork, and building confidence and character were just a few lessons cadets walked away with during the 2018 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps' Cadet Leadership Challenge Camp hosted by Fort Benning, Georgia, June 3 through 8.
More than 500 JROTC cadets from high schools in Alabama and Georgia attended the camp where they completed events such as a team development course, a land navigation course, the rappel tower, the confidence course, aquatics training and the Airborne 34-foot tower.
Army Cadet Cpl. Javaria Turner, a student at Kendrick High school in Columbus, Georgia, learned how to be a better team player and why each individual person on a team is crucial to the achievement of a goal.
"I liked the confidence course because I felt like it was a great team-building exercise," said Turner. "It showed us that we needed every member of the team - big, small, little and people who thought they couldn't do it - to be able to succeed and to get over whatever obstacle we had to do."
For Army Cadet Sgt. Michelle Barradas, overcoming her fear of heights was one of her biggest takeaways from the camp. She was able to complete the rappel tower despite her apprehension of heights.
"I enjoyed the rappel tower because it's something new that I don't do every day, and facing your fear of course is a new experience," Barradas said. "But I learned I had confidence in myself enough to go through with it."
Retired Army Lt. Col. Roger Barros, the camp commander, has been involved in the program for 16 years and said it is always great to see the progression and growth in the cadets from the beginning of the camp to the end.
"I always look forward to seeing the cadets challenge themselves in a very positive way and to discover what they are made of," Barros said. "For some of these kids, they have never done anything like this before in terms of intensity, but we want them to discover that they are capable of so much more."
Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Kelly, the senior drill sergeant of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, on post, helped instruct some of the events and said it was good to expose the cadets to certain military training.
"In another year or two, some of these kids will be coming to us," said Kelly. "So it's good for them to get the basics, like the land navigation classes, or just for them to get prepared to go to basic training. It gives them that foot in the door and kind of shows them what the military is like."
Nonetheless, even if they don't join the military, Kelly said the camp still gives them valuable tools.
"It helps build better and more competent, more resilient civilians, which will ultimately help them better themselves," said Kelly.
Barros said the support of Fort Benning Soldiers and the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning's commanding general, Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, is paramount to the program's continued success.
"It gets better every year," Barros said. "When we briefed General Brito, he reaffirmed Fort Benning's commitment and dedication to support JROTC."
He added it is important the cadets gain exposure to people and organizations who meet JROTC's corps values.
"Everything we do - at camp, in the classroom - all our activities are based on four core values, and who we affiliate with has to connect with one, if not more, of our core values. They are leadership, scholarship, patriotism and character," said Barros. "Those are the four things that these kids hopefully will leave with."