April 26, 2012

Buena JROTC hosts eight schools during camp

Story and photos by Natalie Lakosil
Staff Writer
Michael Mathieson, 15, from Cholla High School, wiggles through the barbed wire portion of the obstacle course on April 19.

Fort Huachuca hosted 149 students from eight different high schools around Arizona and New Mexico last week for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Leadership Challenge Camp.

The camp is a yearly requirement by Cadet Command for JROTC schools to conduct. It began April 18, and the cadets returned to the respective schools on Sunday.

“Fort Huachuca is supporting all four days of activities here by providing us with the land navigation course, the leadership reaction course, obstacle course and we are also conducting a drown proofing at the pool They are giving us everything we need here,” said Sgt. 1st class Fausto Valenzuela, Army instructor at Buena High School. This is the first year Buena is hosting the camp.

The six main events were held on the installation. Other competitions such as a drill competition, knowledge exam and an ice cream party also took place. The cadets set up camp at the old Apache Middle School in Sierra Vista.

“We decided to host it this year for the challenge of it. The cadets participating from Buena are chosen on their academic standing since not all can attend,” Valenzuela said. “We prefer to host it in April because of the nice weather,” he added.

Kenny Bartz, 14, a freshman at Flowing Wells High School, got into JROTC for the experience of being in the military. “I plan to join the Marine Corps. To me the Marine Corps are an organized set of people, and I have always looked up to them as the neatest and the bravest. My grandpa was in it, and I want to carry on his legacy,” Bartz said.

“I like the team activities we get to do together the most,” Bartz added.

Another cadet, Taylor Adams, 17, a junior from Dysart High School in El Mirage, said she joined JROTC because she wanted to be in a military structured type of school. “I plan on joining the Army and transferring to the Navy when I get out of high school, so I wanted to get the feeling of what that career would be like,” Adams said.

“I think the military is a great opportunity to live my life with the best experiences. Being able to support our country and save lives, I want to go into the medical field and travel. This camp is all about leadership, and we are all benefiting from it. I can go back to my school and be able to share with other cadets what I have learned here and just grow from this,” Adams added.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Koch, Rio Rico High School Senior Army Instructor, JROTC, said JROTC is a great program for building character and leadership traits.

“As they [the students] go through these projects, suggestions are being made and they are working as a team and that’s the main thing — to make sure that everyone is involved. We have mixed these kids up from eight different schools. None of them knew each other before yesterday, and we try to bring them all together like this to ensure they all learn to get along and they all learn to respect each other’s background,” Koch said during an interview on April 19.

“I joined JROTC because of the career path I want to take. I want to be a pilot in the Air Force, and I just thought ROTC would be good for me. I think you can get so much from the military. It protects us, and it just motivates us in so many good ways and that’s why I want to be part of it,” said Buena High School freshman, Alexis Fox, 15.

“I saw the terrible things the bad guys have done to our country and I want to keep myself structured and motivate other teenagers, but also after this I want to join the military and get into the Airborne and fight for our country from there,” said Jonathan Luquin, 16, sophomore from Rio Rico High School. “I like everything about it, the adventure and challenges.”

“I joined because it is full of physical activity and I always want to try new things — repelling and rock climbing and so forth because I have never done it. So I joined, and I love it,” said Billie Martin, 17, senior at Flowing Wells High School. Martin does not plan to join the military after high school and was in charge of training schedules at the camp.

“My advice for kids joining JROTC, dedication is a big thing. As long as you try hard, work hard and put all of yourself into it, you will be very successful,” Martin said.

The United States Army through Cadet Command pays for the majority of the camp. The local school districts pay for substitute teachers while the instructors are at the camp.

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