Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. – The local Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps held their annual JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge Camp at Hunter Army Airfield, June 6-9.
The camp’s focus is to teach students about concepts like leadership and teamwork, while also providing them opportunities to serve in leadership positions, challenge themselves and learn basic military skills such as land navigation.
“We might give them a taste of what the military has to offer but we have no military mission,” said retired Lt. Col. Michael Busteed, camp executive officer with 6th ROTC Brigade. “Our job is to really give them those life skills so they can be successful.”
Speaking with cadets, it was evident that there was a strong focus on good citizenship and personal growth.
“It’s not going to make you into a Soldier but it will make you a better citizen,” said Jamarieo Barkley, cadet with Ware County High School.
“I was forced to join by my mom, but after the first day, I decided this was a place I really wanted to be,” said Anthony Newkirk, cadet with Metter High School. “It’s going to help me to become a better citizen, teach me life lessons and get me into shape.”
Every cadet interviewed spoke positively about the program and their own personal career prospects.
“A lot of employers in Georgia say that a lot of high school graduates don’t possess those employability skills. So by putting these kids through leadership positions and teaching them about confidence, teamwork, responsibility and taking initiative, we are giving them those skills that will allow them to be successful in life. That’s what JROTC is all about, motivating them to be better citizens,” Busteed said.
According to Busteed, the average high school student won’t get the opportunity to lead or exercise important life skills like effective communication. JROTC provides these youth with that opportunity.
The summer camp events consisted of drown proofing, obstacle course, rappel tower, land navigation and more. Each event was a competition and had established roles that allowed each student to serve as both leader and follower. Additionally, many supporting units on Hunter Army Airfield supported with static displays and flights, making this a truly hands on experience.
According to Busteed, all these supporting units gave students the opportunity to learn more about military careers and lifestyle.
Being a JROTC cadet and attending camp, Barkley stated that he can see all the possibilities that are now open to him after JROTC. When interviewing, he praised his instructor, explaining that he believes in him and pushes him to be better, much like a big brother.
Each student was positive and shared very similar experiences, making JROTC sound like a great organization to be a part of, even if it’s not for everyone.
“It’s not for everyone… but I would give it (JROTC) at least one try. I think it’s definitely worth it,” said Van Rhodes, cadet with Statesboro High School. “It teaches you a lot of different things and you make a lot of different friends.”