While some vacationed for a week at the beach, the JROTC cadets from various high schools took part in the mandatory week-long training camp at the Bethany Beach Delaware National Guard Training Center. The purpose of the summer camp is to provide JRTOC cadets with challenging and meaningful hands-on training in a military environment that develops good citizenship, leadership, team work, problem solving and patriotism.
Beginning June 16, the cadets from Cape Henlopen High School, Sussex Central High School, Appoquinimink High School, Mount Pleasant High School, Sussex Technical High School and Wicomico County High School in Maryland settled into the barracks at the Bethany Beach Training Site. Approximately 10 cadets from each school and from all grades spent the week at the training camp learning about themselves, one another and the armed forces. Col. Erale of Cape Henlopen said, “Many [of the cadets] have had class preparation, many have not. Some are at the top 5 percent of their class...some are the lower 10 percent, but they’re here.”
Their week started with an orientation at Dover Air Force Base and community service at Holts Landing in Millville that included clearing the area and painting the concrete parking blocks. The next day the cadets got an early start at 4 a.m. to complete a leader reaction course, an obstacle course and to go rappelling down a 60-foot wall at Little Gunpowder Falls, Md. Even though rappelling proved to be a major obstacle for the cadets, many pushed their doubts aside.
Cadet Amber Cluesman of Cape Henlopen said, “The rappelling was great because I had to overcome my fear of heights and my shaking.” Day three held another orientation at the Delaware National Guard facilities in New Castle, and day four brought another round of challenges. The cadets enjoyed a U.S. Coast Guard orientation at Indian River and teamwork challenges that forced everyone to communicate and work together to achieve a common goal. Finally, by the afternoon, everyone met at Ingram Pond in Millsboro to practice land navigation, organized by cadet/major Ardany Coloma-Ventura. With different stakes set up throughout the area, each team of three to four cadets had to use their compasses and their paces to locate the correct points among the many false points. During their downtime, the teams practiced their drill team routines which were performed later that night. On their last day, June 21, the cadets graduated from the JROTC Cadet Leardership Week at the Bethany Beach Training Site.
Along with volunteering parents, Nurse Practitioner Anna Miller of Sussex Central accompanied the cadets on their adventures. “I can really see how [the cadets] have grown each year,” Miller said about their progress. While some of the cadets are rising seniors, others just joined the JROTC the previous year. Rising sophomore James Albertella of Cape Henlopen found his way into the JROTC because “[He’s] always been kinda interested in joining the army,” and mentioned his family is involved in the armed forces as well, and when asked if he thinks he’ll continue he gave a firm yes. “It’s been really fun so far,” Albertella said. Austin Eshleman, a cadet/corporal from Sussex Central, said he joined JROTC because “[His] family has a big military background.”
While family may play a major role in the decision to take part in the armed forces from a young age, Colonel Arata of Sussex Central embraced the JROTC saying “The whole program is about the older ones teaching the younger ones,” and from there many cadets decide to continue in the JROTC through college.