Down and dirty


POSTED: Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dressed to get down and dirty, a group of cadets climbed over an inclined wall using a kneeling comrade as a steppingstone, then helped him over it. Next came a series of hurdles, some 4 feet high, to be jumped, climbed or otherwise cleared.

The confidence-building course included such daunting obstacles as the “;tough nut”; and “;belly rubber,”; too complex to be described.

Physical challenges were par for the course Thursday at Schofield Barracks' East Range, where Punahou School held its annual JROTC summer camp.

Students not only trained in military skills, but also were given the opportunity “;to develop their teamwork and leadership abilities,”; said senior JROTC summer camp instructor Robert Takao, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

“;We're teaching these kids to be good leaders and followers,”; Takao said.

The summer camp is held over a period of four days. About 55 cadets from 11 schools throughout the state participated this year. Some were not enrolled in a JROTC program, but took part just for the fun.

Activities included rappelling, crossing rope bridges and a leadership confidence course that tested the cadets both physically and mentally.

Some former cadets who are pursuing a military career said the program attracted them to the Army and improved their lives.

“;I've gained a lot of confidence in how I interact with people, and I really gained a sense of professionalism within the Army,”; said Hana Lee, a summer camp volunteer and second-year cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Cadets of higher rank or class find it important not only to lead others, but also help in their development and create a sense of camaraderie.

“;I get to pass down my leadership abilities and my knowledge down to my cadets, and you get really good at motivating people,”; said Punahou School senior Sgt. Matthew Duarte. “;You also get a lot of friendship, teammates, and you meet new people from other schools that you never knew before. You make a lot of friends at this kind of place.”;