Cadets were responsible for completing each of the activities alongside members of their company.

From rappelling off a 40-foot tower to ziplining from tree to tree roughly 20 feet in the air, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Cadet Leadership Camp (JCLC) took the summer camp experience to new heights this season.

Hosted at the Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation in Lake Wales from June 12 to June 15, JROTCs from schools in Pasco, Broward, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties attended the annual adventure training conducted here at no cost to the cadets. Cadets from each school were then assigned to one of the four companies — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta — in an effort to teach them leadership skills among new friends and colleagues.

On June 12, cadets who could not swim were identified. To increase their familiarity with the water, these novice swimmers were introduced to several basic techniques in a pond on the property with lifeguards on duty. All JCLC cadets were then encouraged to complete a 10-meter swim; those who were unable to finish were given a bracelet to identify their current swimming level and had access to life preservers for all future challenges.

Beginning on June 13 and continuing through June 14, each day was divided into both a morning and afternoon session, both of which were devoted to the completion of a particular task. This ranged from rappel and water survival training to canoeing. Cadets were also encouraged to finish a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experiences (COPES) course; this course tethered participants in before requiring them to walk across a series of cables and brave a zipline along the way.

Running the rappel tower this year was Lennard High School’s senior army instructor, LTC (R) David Dietz, who brought along 16 of his own cadets. Monitoring their progress on this course, Dietz cited the sense of personal accomplishment the cadets experienced to be a rewarding aspect of this challenge and others.

“They’re very scared of these training events, but when they go through and they conquer it, it’s a sense of success you just can’t give in any book or on a PowerPoint,” said Dietz. “Every year — these cadets who say they can’t do something — we teach them they can do it with a little bit of grit and application of effort.”

Topping off the camp experience with closing remarks, June 15 also featured an opportunity for each of the four companies to compete against one another as they prepared and performed skits. This final collaborative activity offered the cadets a moment to reflect on all the connections the camp had helped furnish.

“The most exciting aspect of JCLC for me is teamwork while going through all the activities,” said Cadet Isabela Stitt, a rising sophomore at Lennard. “I realized you needed to be able to get along with others to complete the tasks. The aspect of teamwork was also rewarding because teamwork helps you meet new people and make new friends.”

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