The average age at Fort A.P. Hill dipped a bit this past week, when 551 Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., came to the installation for this year’s JROTC Camp Success.
The teens at A.P. Hill were divided into four companies that teamed up cadets from rural, urban, and suburban backgrounds as they worked together to solve an assortment of strategic problems and even overcome some fears.
The Camp Success here was one of dozens occurring throughout the United States.
“The mission of JROTC is to motivate young people to become better American citizens,” said Maj. Lee Bowman, public affairs officer for the camp and a JROTC teacher in D.C. “Camp is one of those major elements that allows us to bring students together from different jurisdictions and have them learn to work as a team.”
The cadets were tasked with solving simulated challenges together, such as transporting “ammunition” across a “river” in enemy-held territory or escaping a “prison” without getting “electrocuted” by touching any area painted in red.
They navigated through the woods using a compass, and they completed a survival training course in which they learned such skills as how to make potable water and safely start a fire.
Some cadets faced their fear of heights as they rappelled down a wall under the guidance of adult staff. They also learned how to do drown-proofing, which involves converting pants into flotation devices and can be enacted regardless of swimming ability.
Physical fitness was another major component of the camp, as cadets completed courses designed for adult soldiers.
After hours, they played some sports and other team-building games, and they spent the nights in the barracks—boys on one level, girls on another.
And toward the end of the camp, just for fun, the cadets enjoyed a day at Kings Dominion.
Most of the teens arrived on Saturday, June 21, and were set to stay until the camp graduation ceremony the morning of June 26, though about 50 student leaders came a day early to receive training for their supervisory duties.
“The adults basically stand back and observe and let the kids organize and run the camp,” he said.
“Every activity that we do has a group of adult teachers such as myself that’s responsible for making sure it’s safe and sound and runs timely and we get done what needs to get done,” Bowman added.
Col. James McGrory, camp commandant, said JROTC teaches students “to be future leaders of our country.”
When cadets return to their schools in the fall, they’re expected to serve in leadership positions. “Our leaders aren’t only just leaders in JROTC. They’re leaders in the school,” McGrory said.
This was McGrory’s 19th Camp Success, and he said it was “perfect.”
“It’s the best I’ve done. … This has been the smoothest one we’ve run,” McGrory said.
“JROTC is a great program for teaching leadership to our young Americans and making them better citizens,” he concluded.