FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A few days before students returned to the classrooms, 30 teens participated in Fort Bragg's Semi-Annual Teen Soldier for a Day experience.

This growing event began as just a jump off the 34-foot jump tower and a visit to the 82nd Airborne Museum here. Now, the Teen Soldier for a Day features morning physical training, drill and ceremony training, the 34-foot jump tower, a road march, convoy by light medium tactical vehicles, the Engagement Skills Trainer and the Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer, a demonstration of humvee rollover training, a taste of meals-ready-to-eat for lunch and air assault obstacle course training.

The teens started with a morning formation at the Tolson Youth Activities Center. Tired and droopy faces lined the bleachers of Tolson's teen gym. Many of them were signed up for the event by their parents and weren't sure what the day had in store for them.

At 7:50 a.m., Soldiers from the 18th Fires Brigade and the 82nd Sustainment Brigade marched in and immediately took charge of the teens. It was evident that these Soldiers were excited and eager to work with the teens.

"These Soldiers, Fort Bragg and Child Youth and School Services have been planning for this event months in advance. The Soldiers had so much input with what they would like to do with the teens," said Gerhard Guevarra, event coordinator.

The teens were woken up with a round of morning PT exercises. At 8:30 a.m., the summer sun had already started to provide a realistic experience of training in extreme weather conditions, in this case heat. The noncommissioned officers could be heard throughout the day saying, "Drink water!"

While waiting for their convoy, the teens had an opportunity to work on basic drill and ceremony. As the teens were learning how to column right, column left and rear march in the parking lot of Tolson, the roar of four LMTVs turned into the area. The teens were now on their way to the jump tower.

Staff Sgt. Jacob Foxen of the 18th Fires Bde. and his fellow Soldiers were ready and waiting for the teens. He provided a brief explanation of how to don the gear to successfully jump off the tower. The teens partnered up and helped each other strap on the equipment before heading up the stairs to the top of the 34-foot jump tower. A few were hesitant to step out; some jumped out without fear, and some took a little convincing. In the end, only one teen could not be convinced to jump.

Afterward, the teens marched down the street to the Engagement Skills Trainer and the Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer where they had an opportunity to experience engaging an enemy.

A demonstration of humvee rollover training followed, then an MRE lunch. As their MRE packets were handed out, comments like, "Omelet'," "Beef stew shouldn't be so bad," and, "My dad said not to chew the gum," could be heard.

With food in their stomachs, a little bit of rest and time in air conditioning, the teens headed for their final destination - Range 85, the obstacle course. The teens jumped, climbed, weaved, swung and crawled through a maze of obstacles, ropes, cargo nets and barbed wire.

In the end, the parents and teens said they were grateful for the experience.

For more information about Fort Bragg School Support Services and next year's Teen Soldier for a Day event, call 432-1008;

e-mail braggschoolliaison or visit