BY SOPHIA WENGIER
The serious faces and disciplined movements of the ROTC cadets portray a feeling of unrelenting pride in their program and country. While our ROTC upperclassmen perform with an ease and dexterity that seems almost innate, every member of the program had to begin somewhere. For many of the new JROTC members, this beginning was the August summer camp.
The NS1 Summer boot camp launched two weeks before the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Open to all new members, under and upperclassmen alike, this camp was a chance to discover what the program is all about, as well as give ambitious new members a chance to get ahead. This camp was not mandatory, however, it was highly encouraged for those who were eager to begin their journey in ROTC.
“[The new cadets] came excited,” NJROTC Commander Jose Testa said. “It was really really fun to see them participate in everything we did, from physical training to drill, and just work together as a group and really enjoy it.”
Having this orientation take place during the summer allowed the cadets to learn what the program is all about without having to worry about obligations regarding school. In the week that the camp took place, they were able to learn essential knowledge for NJROTC members including the Orders to the Sentry, the principles of leadership, and basic drill.
“The NS1 Summer boot camp gave me a headstart with the marching technique,” Sophomore Sarah Seng said. “I also got to know a lot of the other cadets.”
The NJROTC orientation not only allowed freshmen to get familiar with the program but also with the campus and their ROTC peers before having to deal with their classes as well.
“Freshmen year is usually stressful, a year where you start to open your eyes to the big picture of life and where you really grow,” Senior Training Advisor Cory Rivas said. “I think this camp helped get rid of some of those first-year nerves.”
Cadets who attended the camp applied what they learned in order to wear their achievements on their collar, a victory that can take the other cadets over a month to accomplish. However, they did not come out with just medals or ribbons, they also emerged with valuable lessons about life. New members learned about unity despite differences, and the importance of respect and approbation for leaders and peers, even if they are younger. The program also teaches how to listen to orders and commands and remain attentive, a skill that can be helpful in school, social life, and even far into the future when it is time to have a career.
The camp ended with a graduation ceremony for the new cadets. This ceremony allowed parents to come and see what their children had accomplished in the time that they were there. 17 students attended and graduated the camp and as the years progress, the numbers may grow even larger.
“We’re hoping to continue this program during the summers and have more and more kids be interested in coming,” Commander Testa said. “We’re very excited.”