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Posted: June 22, 2017 2:15 p.m.
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Hunter hosts junior cadet leadership challenge

Photos by Staff Sgt. Kellen Stuart/

A cadet prepares to repel from a tower on Hunter Army Airfield June 13. 15 high schools from throughout Georgia participated in this Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge facilitated by Camp Eagle and hosted at Hunter Army Airfield.

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“Prepare to lift, lift. Prepare to move, move,” is yelled by a cadet during medical evacuation practice. High School cadets from 15 schools throughout Georgia took part in a Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge hosted at Hunter Army Airfield, June 12-15.

Camp Eagle facilitated the training with a mission to provide an environment conducive to the practical application of good citizenship and leadership techniques.

“The mission of JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens,” said Col. (Retired) Stephen Renshaw, Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, Georgia. “The purpose is to get outside of yourself as an individual, see what’s out there and see what you can do to help and contribute to your environment and to your society. They see their contributions and what a difference they can make.”

The leadership challenge gave the cadets a chance to be fully immersed into a military environment by conducting training on a military installation with Soldiers from 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, as well as other units throughout HAAF, including making and crossing a rope bridge, drown proofing equipment, first aid, repelling, as well as an obstacle course.

“The most important aspect is team development and leadership,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Tyronne Smoot, Jenkins County High School in Milling, Georgia.

It is beneficial for the high schools to send out their cadets to the leadership challenge because it provides an opportunity for the attending cadets to use the knowledge learned to train students who want to take on the challenge in the future, he explained.

“It is incredible to watch the cadets develop and grow as they learn about themselves while embracing their position and responsibility,” said Renshaw. “From when they first join the program until they are seniors, if they want to stay in the program that long, it is a drastic change because they develop.”

Cadets take leadership positions progressing from leading a team of a few cadets to leading at a battalion level, Renshaw added.

“I have been thinking about nursing but also the military has had a big impact on my life because my dad is in the military,” said Lily Mcdonough, cadet and rising senior at Richmond Hill High School. “With the camp like this, it makes me understand what goes on in the Army and prepares me for it.” 

A goal in place for the cadets is to have a plan for after they graduate, said Smoot. Once, a cadet walks across the stage at graduation they should be able to say exactly what they are pursuing.

“The instructors have been a big influence on helping me decide and figure out what I want to do,” said Mcdonough. “I’m going to be the battalion XO [executive officer] next year, so it’s preparing me to be in charge of future things in the military.”   

The leadership challenge brings students closer together, explained Mcdonough. If cadets weren’t close before the challenge, they bond and become closer during and after the challenge.

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