JROTC cadets learn leadership, teamwork during camp

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Rebecca Garcia
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
More than 200 cadets, representing 11 high schools throughout Arizona, gathered May 26 to June 1 at Camp Navajo, Flagstaff, Ariz., for a week-long Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Leadership Challenge.

The Senior Leadership School is an annual summer camp that provides an opportunity for cadets from different schools to come together and practice their leadership and teamwork skills, according to U.S. Air Force retired Col. Tom McCarthy, JROTC instructor from Higley High School.

According to Colonel McCarthy, SLS is treated like a military boot camp. Cadets perform exercises in land navigation, drill and ceremony, academics, mental and psychological tests, and an obstacle course.

Master Sgt. Alex Brown, a former Air Force Basic Military Training instructor, served as the liaison for all of the military instructors at the leadership challenge. Sergeant Brown, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of material management, said SLS offers cadets a stressful, disciplined military training environment where the military instructors provide training, guidance, and mentorship.

A repeat military instructor from the 162nd Fighter Wing, Tucson, Ariz., Master Sgt. Gil Alcarez said SLS is a unique leadership opportunity for cadets to receive a brief indoctrination of Basic Military Training.

"Our role as a military instructor is to be the disciplinary authority and provide the cadets with new, unfamiliar faces; taking them outside their comfort zone," Sergeant Alcarez said.

Seventeen Arizona Air National Guard members and college ROTC cadets from Arizona State University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University volunteered to teach the 230 teens about leadership, teamwork, respect for others and the Air Force core values through mentorship training, workshops, physical fitness, and drill and ceremony exercises.

The objective of the leadership challenge is molding these young teenagers into better citizens and to help them make better decisions in their lives, Sergeant Alcarez said.

"We want to educate and train these cadets in citizenship, responsibility, self-esteem, discipline, and provide instruction on the Air Force Core Values," he said.

A program supported by the Arizona National Guard, including the 161st ARW, 162nd FW, Camp Navajo and active duty members at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, SLS could not happen without all of the selfless volunteers, according to Colonel McCarthy.

"It is so rewarding to see the changes from the day the cadets arrive to the day they leave," Sergeant Brown said. "These teenagers open up and share a piece of their life with us and in return we impact their lives by being a role model."