Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets sped a week at Fort Jackson, S.C., for a week-long leadership challenge. Roughly 750 cadets from high schools across North Carolina attended the challenge and completed a series of events that mimic training found during Basic Combat Training. (by Alexandra Shea)

Cadets enjoy last week of summer challenge

By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from across North Carolina enjoyed the final week of a summer cadet challenge that focuses on team building and sharpening leadership and communication skills.

Throughout the week the cadets participated in a series of events that mimic training events during Basic Combat Training on Fort Jackson. Victory Tower, map reading, basic survival skills, drown proofing and target practice with a bow and air soft rifle were a few of the events cadets completed throughout the week.

“Cadets from North Carolina are learning teamwork and leadership skills in a great environment,” said Col. Gregory Williamson, senior Army instructor for Lumberton High School in Lumberton, North Carolina. “They are meeting kids from other school and learning how to work as a team.”

Williamson said the skills the cadets learn during the summer challenge will benefit them as students and as community members after they graduate high school.

“Most of our cadets are from ages 15 to 17. They are learning life skills,” Williamson said. “When you come into an environment where you don’t know everyone else, you have to learn to work together, as a team. They are assigned leadership positions throughout the week so when it’s time to leave here, they are a valuable team member.”

Williamson said about 750 cadets attended the final week of the summer challenge. Upon arrival, cadets placed in companies of cadets from other schools, limiting the number of cadets that knew each other. This forced the cadets to to get to know each other and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Throughout the week, each cadet was placed in a leadership role where they accepted responsibility for their group’s failures and successes as they tackled each of the scheduled training events.

“JROTC skills are not just for school, it’s for life,” Williamson said. “We want to make them great civilians and part of a community.”

Williamson explained that some JROTC cadets will become future Soldiers, but many will also enter the workforce after graduation or pursue a college degree or trade. Regardless of where the cadets find themselves in the future, the skills they have learned through the JROTC program and summer challenge will help them be successful.

“It makes you feel pretty good,” Williamson said of working the summer challenges. “You get to see kids grow, develop and build their confidence.”