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Vicksburg High’s JROTC cadets learn leadership skills at Camp Shelby

Eight cadets from Vicksburg High School’s Army JROTC program got a taste of military life and what it takes to be a leader in the Army during a June camp.

The eight cadets joined more than 400 other cadets from high schools in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama for a five-day Cadet Leadership Challenge at Camp Shelby during the first week of week of June. During the camp, the cadets worked on physical fitness and skills such as rappelling and canoeing. They also spent time learning the finer points of Drill and Ceremony, which required them to march in time to a cadence and orienteering skills to enable them to navigate when outdoors.

“A lot of leadership skills,” VHS Army JROTC senior instructor Columbus Head said of what the cadets get out of the camp. “The other thing I think is good is it gets them out of this local area so they interact with other students from across the state. They do a lot of leadership training, they do a lot of training that I myself cannot do locally like the rappelling training on a 40 foot wall and the obstacle course. It facilitates them learning those traits.”

The cadets were divided into various companies where they had to learn to work with and lead peers from throughout the region.

“The biggest thing is it put them in a situation where they have an opportunity to lead cadets that they are not familiar with,” Hood said. “I think mastering that trait greatly enhances their leadership abilities.”

In the companies, different cadets were given roles that required them to step into leadership positions and make sure their fellow cadets followed orders and performed the activities required of them.

“It helped me lead other people,” VHS cadet Marquis Martin said. “I was a command sergeant major up there. It was stressful because some of the kids don’t listen to you. You have to raise your voice and stuff. I felt myself getting better at it. I had to come up with how I was going to get my company in straight lines.”

The camp required the cadets to undergo long days of training from rising at 6 a.m. for physical fitness training and drill to participating in various activities such as a mini-Olympics, drill competition and obstacle course until 9 p.m.

“My favorite part was the rappelling wall because that was a big wall and not something I am going to mess with on a daily basis, but it was fun. I liked the canoeing. The thing is, just don’t fall in the water,” Keelan McClodden said. “It did teach me leadership because I was a platoon sergeant. That meant I was able to call commands for a bit. It gave me some pointers on how to call commands.”

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