Lanett JROTC’s Busy Summer

Published 10:00 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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Lanett High School’s JROTC program is keeping busy this summer. Cadets have been attending multiple summer camps around the area to sharpen their skills. This past week, 10 high schoolers stayed at Columbus State University for the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC). 

The students would eat and sleep at the University before boarding a bus for Fort Moore, formerly Fort Benning. For a week, they would spend the day doing challenges related to military skills, leadership, and teamwork.

The first day entailed confidence and team reaction courses. The confidence course was ten obstacles, including climbing over walls and swinging from ropes. The course emulated some of the basic training done when joining the military.

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For day two, the cadets spent the morning at the repel tower. The activity is meant to help the kids overcome their fears and trust their equipment and their own skills, according to Ltc. Chris McKinney, Lanett’s JROTC instructor. 

“They were repelling off like a 50-foot tower. Just climbing up the tower by itself was overcoming fear for most of them,” McKinney said. 

That night the kids went bowling for a fun team-building exercise. 

On the third day, the Panthers practiced land navigation. They had to follow a route through the unfamiliar terrain using navigation tools, like maps and compasses. To cool off, they participated in the Combat Water Survival Test, testing endurance and ability in the water. 

“I saw a lot of tears, …but that means we’re pushing the envelope,” McKinney said. “We’re getting people to think about the things that they need to do to become the best version of themselves.”

The fourth day was reserved for a college and career event. College ROTC groups were giving out information to the cadets on the programs. There were also virtual reality simulators at the event that mimicked parachuting. 

On day five the cadets graduated from the program. 

“JCLCs tries to enable cadets to practice leadership in challenging environments… [and] participate in citizenship-building exercises,” McKinney stated. 

McKinney adds that the cadet program of JROTC, “Provides opportunities for youth to gain valuable knowledge and skills that build confidence and help pave the way in the transition to adulthood.”

The summer schedule does not end with JCLC. Three of the cadets are currently participating in an “Air Rifle Camp” at Smith Station High School. The camp focuses on the fundamentals of three-position shooting, which is NCAA and Olympic style. 

McKinney said the camp allows for his cadets to train for the sport before competing. Lanett High School started an Air Rifle Club in 2022. 

Finally, two lucky students will be attending the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida. The academy is comprised of three camps spanning from June 2 to June 21. The cost of the academy is well over $1000, however, McKinney said the JROTC brigade will pay for the two students to go. 

The program consists of daily missions, planned by the cadets. The missions will be done through simulations and immersive role-play to give a glimpse into what it is like to be a naval pilot.