A five-story monolith towers above the Fort Gordon landscape as a high school student pulls a rope taut in her hand and leans back over the edge of the wall. An instructor guides her as she faces her fear of heights and leaps, kicking out and gliding down the face of the wall.
Hundreds of high school Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students descended upon Fort Gordon and down from the rappel tower last week during the annual summer camp, Camp Semaphore. Wal’Teyonna Bryant, a T.W. Josey High School sophomore, signed on for the camp and conquered her trepidation.
“I got to face my fears,” she said. “A lot of my friends back at school didn’t think I could do it. I’m afraid of heights but I got up and did it.”
The weeklong camp gave the cadets a glimpse into military training and the life of a soldier. Students from more than a dozen Georgia high schools attended, including some from as far away as Swainsboro.
According to Fort Gordon, the camp provides cadets a challenging, meaningful and practical learning experience while developing leadership, teamwork and citizenship skills. It also builds self-confidence and discipline through hands-on adventure and team-building training exercises.
Cadets were organized into military units and were mixed between schools, serving as an example of military service with people from different parts of the nation. Alexiss Gaines, an Academy of Richmond County sophomore in the Army Junior ROTC, served the role of company commander for A Company.
“It’s a really fun experience,” she said. “Back at school we argue with each other but out here we have to work together. It’s great to get out of the house and get to meet new people.”
An obstacle course forced cadets to work together. A team is given a set of wooden beams and a cargo box. The items and each cadet must traverse the obstacle without anything touching the ground.
The camp gave the students a glimpse into life in other branches of the service.
“Their commands are different and it was kind of confusing at first,” said Wal’Teyonna, who is in the Air Force Junior ROTC. “It’s like learning a foreign language, but we get to learn different techniques and leadership skills.”
Both Alexiss and Wal’Teyonna said they plan to join the military out of high school in their Junior ROTC service branch.
Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706) 823-3339 or email@example.com.