From Feb. 18 to 22, 19 students from Van Nuys High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps were specifically chosen to attend Camp San Luis Obispo, or Camp SLO. Within Los Angeles Unified School District, 17 schools chose around nine females and nine males to represent their school at the intensive training camp.
Throughout the five days at camp, the students received life-long lessons about confidence, leadership, and teamwork. As the cadets woke up at 4 a.m. each day, they prepared themselves for the intense training that they were about to receive. Some of the activities included rappelling, marksmanship, rope bridge, first aid, land navigation, and leader’s reaction course.
Due to the fact that there were 17 schools and a limited amount of living quarters, each school was paired up to sleep, march, and eat with different schools. This challenged the cadets to step out of their comfort zone and work together despite their different backgrounds, skills, and abilities.
On the first day of training, the cadets were faced with a four-mile march to their first destination. The first platoon was set to learn how to tie certain safety knots, such as the square knot and figure-8 knot, and how to build a rope bridge. The second platoon was set to go rappelling down a 70-foot cliff simply with a harness, belay, and anchor, which definitely challenged someone to face his or her fear of heights.
“SLO was a very eventful trip for me, especially when we were rappelling. I learned to overcome my fear of heights and trust my instructors,” Cadet Master Sergeant Esther Choe said.
On the second day of training, the Alpha company participated in an obstacle course in which each cadet was physically challenged to overcome ten obstacles, such as tires, a balance beam, and a five-foot wall with no holds. The second activity was leader’s reaction course.
In this activity, the company was placed into teams of five in which they were faced with possible situations in times of war. This activity tested each cadets’ leadership skills and ability to work with four other cadets. Afterwards, the cadets from each school were invited to the camp’s annual dance. Despite the blisters and hotspots resulting from miles of marching, the cadets showed off their dance moves and bonded with other schools till they weren’t able to stand.
“The camp left lots of memories – rappelling, waking up at four in the morning, and marching with cadences,” said Cadet 1st Lieutenant Angela Park.
On the third and final day of training, the cadets learned how to read and use a compass and a map. Throughout the land navigation activity, each cadets’ skills regarding patience, leadership, and teamwork were tested.
According to army.Mil.com, the official homepage of the United States Army, many cadets found that the camp gave them a renewed sense of purpose, focus, and a better understanding of the JROTC program and the Army life.
For those in JROTC, Camp SLO is a pivotal experience.