Platoons worked through challenges during a Cadet Leadership Camp at Camp Bud Schiele hosted by the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Training Corps (MCJROTC) July 29-Aug 2.
"We do the camp every year. This gives the students more of an opportunity than they can get in a classroom. They're out here for a week, it's largely cadet run and they have leadership responsibilities that they just don't get in class," said Maj. Russell Armentrout, MCJROTC instructor at R-S Central High School. "It's fun and kind of a reward for the kids."
This summer MCJROTC platoons from five high schools came to the camp; R-S Central, Asheville, East Gaston, South Irdell and Daniel Boone high schools attended.
"We mix up the platoons when they are here. Every one has kids from every school," Armentrout said. "It has made the JROTC community stronger."
Throughout the week cadets do rappelling, zip-lining, shotgun shooting, canoeing, archery, hiking and many more outdoor activities.
"It's a big confidence builder for the kids. With the rappelling and ropes course, many do it because their friends are doing it," Armentrout said. "Kids who were terrified of it learn you can do things that challenge you."
The highlight of the camp is the "Crucible," a day of physical and mental challenges where the platoons compete to bring home an honor award. It is based on the Marine Corps Crucible, the final test in training.
"We started the Crucible last year and it was a huge hit, so we beefed it up this year. It's a leadership reaction course. The kids are divided into squads of 12 and go to eight different stations throughout the day," Armentrout said. "They have problems to solve that require teamwork and make them work physically and mentally."
Challenges included building a two-rope bridge and getting the platoon across a simulated barbed wire fence.
"It took a lot of strategic thinking. They frequently had to complete a problem and get a simulated casualty through it. We kept all of the challenges a surprise and to a large extent there were things that we haven't taught them," Armentrout said. "It's amazing how the kids outsmart us though. We would think that we had every answer to each problem, and the kids would come up with something completely different. There was one challenge that they all solved it and they all did it differently."
R-S Central Cadet Staff Spencer White attended the camp for the second time.
"The best part is getting to meet new and different people from the platoons. But I also like the fun and challenging activities," White said. "Ever since I was five I've always been interested in the military. I'm attracted to the discipline and order."
Bradley Hicks, a cadet from East Gaston, said that the major benefit of the camp was learning to become a better leader.
"Nobody stays a follower here too long. Everyone becomes a leader," Hicks said. "You become better accustomed to leading and have to learn how different people react to different things. You get to know how they are and then you can act as one, single unit."