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Ansbacher High School student Tyler Yanik, 14, conquered the "pamper pole" at JROTC's Leadership Challenge in Grafenwohr, Germany, on Tuesday.

Ansbacher High School student Tyler Yanik, 14, conquered the "pamper pole" at JROTC's Leadership Challenge in Grafenwohr, Germany, on Tuesday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Ansbacher High School student Tyler Yanik, 14, conquered the "pamper pole" at JROTC's Leadership Challenge in Grafenwohr, Germany, on Tuesday.

Ansbacher High School student Tyler Yanik, 14, conquered the "pamper pole" at JROTC's Leadership Challenge in Grafenwohr, Germany, on Tuesday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Cadets take on a climbing wall at JROTC's Leadership Challenge at Grafenwohr.

Cadets take on a climbing wall at JROTC's Leadership Challenge at Grafenwohr. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Vicenza High School students Stephen King, 16, and Kenny Barteau, 15, complete a high ropes teamwork exercise at JROTC’s Leadership Challenge.

Vicenza High School students Stephen King, 16, and Kenny Barteau, 15, complete a high ropes teamwork exercise at JROTC’s Leadership Challenge. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The young girl’s body seemed to quiver with fear as she made her way, inch by painstaking inch, to the top of the 40-foot pole. When she tried to stand on top the shaking got worse, but, egged on by shouts of encouragement from fellow Junior ROTC cadets below, she finally made it.

The “pamper pole” is one of many challenges 120 cadets face at JROTC Leadership Challenge — a summer camp at Grafenwöhr this week that provides adventure and leadership training.

The Department of Defense Dependents Schools and U.S. Army Europe-sponsored camp provides physical and mental challenges, said the camp public affairs officer, retired Maj. David Schwab.

It includes canoeing, a physical training test, drill contest, a parade, land navigation and interaction with the German army at Grafenwöhr, with the possibility of riding in an armored personnel carrier, he said.

Cadets also will complete Grafenwöhr’s leaders’ reaction course, which involves using teamwork to pass various obstacles as well as the Noncommissioned Officer Academy obstacle course. There also will be urban orienteering involving a quest for clues on Grafenwöhr’s main post, Schwab said.

The camp includes Navy and Air Force JROTC cadets as well as 10 British cadets from the Bristol County Cadet Corps, he said.

“These are typical DODDS students. Most have parents in the military and some have parents deployed to Iraq,” he said.

In addition to the pamper pole, cadets doing a high-ropes course near Weiden on Tuesday as part of the camp contended with a raft of high-wire challenges including a climbing wall, zip line, rickety bridges, rope nets and a giant cable swing.

Vicenza High School students Stephen King, 16, and Kenny Barteau, 15, had a tough time negotiating their way between a pair of towers using two strands of wire and pushing against each other’s hands to maintain balance.

Jerrell Bank, 18, of Hanau High School, who conquered the pamper pole quickly, said this was his second JROTC camp.

“We get to come and do things other kids can’t do,” he said. “How many kids can say they have ridden in a helicopter or conquered their fears by diving into a pool from 3 meters in the air? We are together not just as a unit, but as friends and family. These things you can’t get at school.”

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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