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Posted: June 22, 2018 9:44 a.m.
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Army JROTC Cadets challenged at Hunter

Steve Hart/

Cadet Brianna Aldrich, a rising sophomore at Metter High School (far left) and Delaney Cleary (far right), a rising sophomore at Southeast Bulloch High School, assist a fellow cadet unhooking from the rope bridge after successfully traversing over an obstacle.

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At the Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge, there’s no such thing as sleeping in.  You are awakened at 4:35 a.m. each of the four days of the summer camp by a retired Soldier quietly saying “Time to get up,” and everyone pops out of their bunks immediately and begins their morning routine of getting dressed, making their bunks and cleaning the barracks.

More than 200 high school students from Army Junior ROTC programs in 16 high schools from Southeast Georgia participated in JROTC summer camp on Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart June 11-14.  

 The objective was to provide the cadets an opportunity to develop leadership skills in an unfamiliar military type environment and to participate in adventure training not normally available to cadets, said retired Army Lt. Col. Michael Busteed, senior JROTC instructor at Windsor Forest High School and the deputy camp commander.

“The great working relationship that we have with Hunter Army Airfield allows us to put these kids through a variety of training environments that really does test their leadership skills,” Busteed said.  

The training events during the four-day camp include rappelling, the leaders’ reaction course, map reading and land navigation, team building on the obstacle course, drown-proof training, physical training, rope bridge training, drill and ceremonies, field sanitation and personal hygiene and first aid training with an emphasis on steps to prevent heat injuries.

At Hunter’s rappelling tower June 12, cadets who volunteered to do so rappelled down the 50-foot tower.  They first underwent training on a much shorter wall to get familiar with the harness and the techniques on how to step off the top of the tower so the cadets’ legs were bent and 90 degrees from the vertical boards and how to use your brake hand.

“I’ve always wanted to do stuff like this,” said Cadet Gail Casilli, a rising sophomore at Statesboro High School.  “I had no trouble going down the half wall.  The others were saying, ‘We’ve got this; it’s cool, it’s cool.’  But when we climbed the ladder to the top of the tall tower, it was completely different.  It wasn’t cool.  But I did it – I wanted to make my mom proud.”

Some cadets viewed the concentrated experience as a glimpse of what serving in the military may be like.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity and I’ve learned a lot of new things,” said Aleeha Norman, a rising senior at Wayne County High School, who plans on serving in the Air Force.  “It teaches you a lot of good leadership skills.  It’s motivated me further to join.”


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