CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Cadets with the Zama Middle High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ Trojan Battalion conducted their “Cadet Challenge” on Sagami General Depot, Tama Hills and Camp Zama during the first week of April.
Douglas Fields, senior Army instructor for ZMHS JROTC, said that, true to its name, the event challenges cadets through both “adventure” and physical tasks such as a road march, rifle stimulation training, medical field training, land navigation and a physical fitness test.
The cadets spend time leading up to the event improving their physical fitness and learning about team-building, and the Cadet Challenge is a weeklong capstone event that tests them on those skills, Fields said.
The event marks one of the first times the cadets are pushed to their physical and mental limits because they compete in much of the event while wearing their combat uniform and boots for challenges like a rigorous road march, Fields said.
“The main purpose was team- building and team bonding, and they all did really well demonstrating it,” Fields said.
Cadet Maj. Lumena Fennessey, the JROTC battalion executive officer, said, the Cadet Challenge was meant to encompass all of the skills she and the other cadets had learned, while also promoting teamwork and testing them on how much they have improved throughout the year.
Fennessey said her main goal was to not only try her best in the competition, but also to demonstrate her leadership skills as the executive officer. She hoped she was able to serve as a good example and push the other cadets to do their best, she said.
“I think we all really pushed through it and we all tried our hardest,” Fennessey said. “I am really proud of [the team].”
Team-building was a major aspect of the event, as well as motivating each other, she said.
“I learned that teamwork means a lot more than a lot people think it does, because if you can work with everyone well enough, you are able to do... better than you are able to do individually,” Fennessey said.
Cadet Lt. Col. Bryan Ponce, the JROTC battalion commander, said the event was definitely a challenge, but he and the other cadets were able to get through it while also having fun.
“Having fun and challenging yourself, that’s really what it’s all about,” said Ponce said.
The physical fitness test, which was the last event, was the biggest challenge for all the cadets, Ponce said, because they were tired from the previous days’ events, but they all worked to push each other to finish strong.
Ponce, a senior, said the goal he set for himself for the Cadet Challenge was to lead with everything he had. He said the event was successful because of how well the cadets worked together and how much belief they had in themselves to complete the event.
“I would like the other cadets to know they don’t have limits—and if they did, they went beyond their limits today,” Ponce said. “I know that because I saw how they were running and pushing each other. They can go higher and higher, physically and mentally, with teamwork and camaraderie.”