Cadets taste military life at Camp Semaphore

Rappelling down a 60-foot tower was not the highlight of Desiree Williams' three days at Camp Semaphore, an annual camp for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets at Fort Gordon.

"I thought I was going to die. I did not like it," said Desiree, a junior at Lucy C. Laney High School.

With the lieutenant barking instructions from atop the tower, cadets holding her rope and other cadets cheering her descent, Desiree overcame her fear Thursday. She didn't plan to repeat the experience.

About 230 students from 11 Georgia high schools, including Butler, Evans, Academy of Richmond County, Lakeside, Harlem and Glenn Hills, participated in the camp Tuesday through Thursday.

Cadets learned about land navigation, first aid and water safety. They went through an obstacle course and over a one-rope bridge.

The camp provides cadets with a taste of military life.

Madeline Scott, a sophomore at Evans High School, said she is part of JROTC because she plans to join the military after high school. The camp opened her eyes.

"I realized it's a little harder than I thought," she said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Horton, the JROTC instructor at Hephzibah High School, said the session helps instructors see cadets' potential. It helps them give advice to their company commanders when filling future leadership roles, he said.

"They are more well rounded," he said.

Reach Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.