Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from high schools across the Carolinas began a week-long challenge at Fort Jackson to hone their leadership skills and learn the value of teamwork all while getting a first-hand look at what the transformation process from civilian to Soldier looks like.
“These kids are 9th to 11th grade out here,” said Lt. Col. Julie Grant, Delta Company commander. “All the schools this week are from South Carolina, and we have almost 1,000 cadets.”
The event was split into two phases with those from South Carolina in the first phase and North Carolina in the second.
The Junior ROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge is an annual event held across the nation; Grant explained how this is the first year the challenge has returned since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
The return of the challenge has been widely embraced by the cadets.
“The last camp was in 2019 and this is the largest number of participants and most female participants we’ve had,” Grant said. “We are making history.”
Throughout the week, cadets will get an introduction to a variety of activities that mimic the skills learned during Basic Combat Training. Events such as basic rifle marksmanship, Victory Tower, high and low rope course, drown proofing in Knight Pool, archery, confidence course, drill and ceremonies, and map reading were a few of the events the cadets completed throughout the week.
“This is a value-added camp for them,” Grant said. “It enables them on team building, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It is all hands-on here and these skills will help them not only in the school year but in corporate America.”
Grant explained how the skills learned throughout the week and the JROTC Program not only prepares students for enlistment into any branch of service, but completion of the program also means a potential promotion upon completion of Basic Combat Training. Students also learned about the benefits of enlistment to include health, dental and vision care but also obtaining a degree.
“There are scholarships, funding for their books and tuition, not just on active duty but in the Reserve and National Guard components as well,” Grant said.
Though students were having fun, they and the cadre are looking forward to returning home.
“JROTC is a great program, and I would recommend it to anyone,” Grant said. “There are a lot of attributes you can obtain through JROTC.”