By Joy Awe, USAG GrafenwoehrJune 29, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Department of Defense high schools throughout Europe took part in a 10-day Cadet Leadership Challenge camp in Grafenwoehr in June.
Cadets participated in team-building activities designed to build leadership skills and encourage cooperation amongst the cadets.
The 112 cadets who attended the Cadet Leadership Challenge took part in events such as land navigation, canoeing, obstacle courses, rock climbing and rappelling, urban orienteering, a drill competition, and geo-caching, where cadets used a "treasure map" to find a series of GPS points.
Maj. (Ret) David Schwab, senior Army instructor at Baumholder High School, said the activities at the camp challenged the misconception that JROTC programs are merely a recruiting tool for the military.
"It's not about getting them into the military. JROTC is about developing young leaders, preparing them for a future as adults in our society. The mission of Junior ROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens," Schwab said.
He added that, the tasks assigned to the cadets are carefully chosen to be challenging without being so difficult that the cadets cannot perform them.
Great care is taken to ensure that none of the activities pose a serious safety risk to the students participating, and medics are on hand in the event of an injury.
Although the Cadet Leadership Challenge focuses primarily on military activities, JROTC prepares cadets for success in all aspects of life.
"Junior ROTC is unique in that we teach life skills and success in everybody's classroom, not just in our own classroom," said Schwab. "It's very important to us that our cadets succeed in all of their classes. We encourage them to graduate from high school, we encourage them to cooperate with all their teachers, get good grades in all their classes, to prepare themselves all around, to be all around good students."
Throughout the 10-day program, cadets woke at 5 a.m., and spent a full day participating in training activities until lights out at 10 p.m.
Although the schedule is grueling, the cadets clearly enjoy taking part in the program.
"I would definitely recommend joining JROTC," said Cadet Christy Manoogian, a junior at Vilseck High School. "It's the best program you could put yourself into. It got me out of trouble, made me less shy. I relate to people better. JROTC kind of forces you to get outside your comfort zone. It's a great opportunity, and if you're in JROTC you have to come to JCLC to have fun."
The cadets are not the only ones having a great time at the Cadet Leadership Challenge, explained Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell Pollock, commandant of cadets at Vilseck High School.
"I go home at the end of the day and my face hurts from laughing all day long. The kids are an absolute riot," said Pollock. "My favorite part of camp is graduation, because you can stand back on graduation day and you can see what 10 days of non-stop intense training does to these kids."
The program concluded June 24 with a graduation review on the Grafenwoehr parade field. Command Sgt. Maj. Hu B. Rhodes, commandant of the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy, served as the guest speaker.