[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 27, 2008
Training

Chicago JROTC cadets learn leadership, teamwork skills

By John Gangloff, The Real McCoy Contributor

Photo: JROTC cadets attempt to get a comrade through an obstacle on the Leadership Reaction Course. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
JROTC cadets attempt to get a comrade through an obstacle on the Leadership Reaction Course. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      More than 550 Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps (JROTC) cadets from 53 high schools made their way around flooding detours and through traffic jams Saturday, June 14 -- finally arriving at Fort McCoy in the afternoon and evening for the Cadet Leadership Challenge Camp.

      The one-week camp is operated by the Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Army Cadet Command and is one of many around the country designed to give high school cadets the opportunity for some unique training experiences while developing their leadership skills and developing teamwork.

      About 120 high school JROTC instructors, most of them military retirees, a half-dozen college ROTC cadets, and a sprinkling of Army Reserve and National Guard members were at Fort McCoy as well to conduct training and supervise the cadets.

Photo: Cadets engage the 55-foot rappelling tower on the Rappelling Towers complex at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Cadets engage the 55-foot rappelling tower on the Rappelling Towers complex at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Camp Commandant Col. Kevin Kelley said he looked forward to an outstanding experience for the cadets as he welcomed them to the camp in a formation of all the cadets Saturday evening.

      Kelley is the Senior Army Instructor at Clemente High School in Chicago.

      Cadets at the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge Camp participated in a full week of training activities that tested their physical fitness and challenged them mentally while giving them experiences they could not get anywhere else.

      While there are adult cadre who supervise the camp, much of the planning, organizing, and actual instruction was under the control of cadets.

      A battalion headquarters organization provided for the command and staff functions of running a major exercise, while other cadets (designated as "Black Hats") conducted instruction and helped to run the various training sites.

      Each day, the Cadet Staff conducted briefings to keep everyone informed on such things as personnel status, weather and safety, training events, supply and logistics, and public affairs.

      They hosted visitors and published a daily camp newsletter, as well.

Photo: A cadet weathers the sand and dust as he crawls under the last obstacle on the Fort McCoy Conditioning Course. (Photo by John Gangloff)
A cadet weathers the sand and dust as he crawls under the last obstacle on the Fort McCoy Conditioning Course. 
(Photo by John Gangloff)

      But the main event was the training for the hundreds of cadets who were divided into five companies.

      Training events for the week included: Conditioning Course; Confidence Course; Land Navigation; Leadership Reaction Course; Rappelling; Survival and Water Survival; Marching and Drill; Math and Science; Physical Fitness and Sports; and Inspections.

      By the last Friday of the camp, most of the regular training was accomplished, but the cadets still had to practice for their graduation ceremony.

      That was done in the morning, freeing up the afternoon for more sports competitions and a barbecue picnic.

      On the final day (Saturday, June 21), cadets assembled on the post parade field at 9 a.m. for a graduation review ceremony.

Photo: Lt. Col. Kim Harrell, director of Army Public Instruction for the Chicago Schools JROTC program, joins the cadet staff for lunch. The cadets also studied math and science in a classroom setting. (Photo by John Gangloff)
Lt. Col. Kim Harrell, director of Army Public Instruction for the Chicago Schools JROTC program, joins the cadet staff for lunch. The cadets also studied math and science in a classroom setting. (Photo by John Gangloff)

      Their participation during the week will pay off, as there will be awards for the best cadets and the best company.

      During the week, companies and cadets are evaluated on their participation in training events. The results of the daily barracks and in-ranks inspections, as well as regular leadership evaluations, are figured in to determine the award winners.

      After the ceremony, the cadets cleaned up the barracks, said goodbye to new friends and old, and started on the trip back to their homes, hopefully without the detours and flood closures.

(Gangloff is the S-5, Public Affairs officer with the Chicago JROTC program.)

 

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