JROTC cadets trade lazy days of summer for mini boot camp
Getting up during the summer at 0500 may be unimaginable for most teenagers, but for 86 cadets taking part in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Mini Boot Camp, the early reveille is just part of the training and experience.
JROTC units from high schools at Yokota Air Base, Sasebo Naval Base, Iwakuni Marine Air Corps Station, Misawa Air Base and Camp Zama will enhance their young careers at Camp Fuji, Japan, through Friday with a plethora of events.
The mini boot camp/summer camp adventure, which began Friday, traditionally was held during the school year but for the first time is being conducted in the summer to allow maximum participation.
Sponsored by retired Army Lt. Col. Ross Ballou, the camp gives cadets the “opportunity to build camaraderie, enhance their leadership skills and intermingle with the different schools,” said Henry Barr, a JROTC instructor at Sasebo and spokesman for the event.
Throughout their week, the cadets awake at 5 a.m. and begin an hour of physical training at 5:30. They also endure a fire-safety course, a Marine Corps obstacle course and drown-proofing, or water survival training.
The JROTC units may engage in interschool competitions during the school year, but at the camp cadets are divided into three companies regardless of where they are from.
The companies — Alpha, Bravo and Charlie — compete in challenges such as a 1-mile run and drill competitions to win a trophy at week’s end.
Two participants at the camp, Cadet Galdinn Fanlo from Sasebo and Cadet Rodney Mohler from Iwakuni, echo each other in saying that the camp is great thus far and that each has been very busy.
“The camp has boosted my confidence while feeling at home,” Mohler said.
The young cadets’ coaching includes a first aid and hygiene course, rappelling, a helicopter ride and presentations from cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Physical contests between companies, drill practice and competitions and land navigation help round out the agenda.
Taught by 20 instructors including active-duty servicemembers volunteering their time and JROTC instructors, the cadets “develop their talents, learn plenty and still have fun,” Barr said — right up until lights out at 9 p.m.