Avery Babykin of North Forsyth High School smiles after completing the challenging high ropes courses. Babykin thought the ropes course was "really fun and challenging." Photo by Michael Noble.

Avery Babykin of North Forsyth High School smiles after completing the challenging high ropes courses. Babykin thought the ropes course was “really fun and challenging.” Photo by Michael Noble.

By Crystal Allen
Leader’s Training Course

This isn’t an ordinary summer camp. There are no bonfires or camp songs, and the only swimming being done isn’t for recreation.

Junior ROTC students from the Atlanta area came to Fort Knox last week as part of the Junior Cadet Leadership Course program, participating on venues operated by the Leader’s Training Course.

The JCLC program is set up to prepare high school students to become better leaders and better citizens in their communities. Although some of the students have no desire to serve in the military, they joined JROTC to build their resumes and prepare for the real world.  

Tyler Seabourn, a junior from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, has been in JROTC for two years. He joined to help improve his future.

“It’s great on college applications, it can help you in life, it’s a fun program, fun people,” Seabourn said. “It’s good for discipline; all of the above really makes you want to be in it.”

JCLC is an opportunity for JROTC Cadets to stay at Fort Knox for a week and go through the same courses that Army Cadets trying to join the Senior ROTC program go through. For instance, they participated in the high ropes course, water survival training and stream crossing.

Retired Lt. Col. Austin Keaton, a senior Army instructor for Langston Hughes High School, said he tells his students JROTC  wasn’t offered to him when he went into the Army.  He said he feels it would’ve helped him succeed even more.

“It helps develop their leadership skills; it helps develop their cadet values,” Keaton said,. “It helps them work on their team-building skills.”

Activities like JCLC provide opportunities provide an opportunity for the students who might pursue a career in the military to see what military life is like, said Jennifer Jones-Paul, a parent chaperone.

Brooks Hyde, a sophomore at LFO High School, hadn’t been involved with anything military related until the JCLC summer camp. He came seeking adventure, but was worried about being less physically prepared than the other JROTC students who had experience in similar high-adventure activities.

“It is a bit intimidating because you’re thinking you know you’re weaker than them,” Hyde said. “You’re just sitting there like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ ”

With advice and motivation from other students, he was able to successfully complete all the training.

“I always want to try and make them proud,” Hyde said.

Cadets typically find themselves confronting two fears: heights and water.

Quinn Redder, a sophomore at Roswell High School and who isn’t a fan of heights, rappelled off a 50-foot high tower. His JCLC colleague, Terry Ellis, was afraid of the water, but, blindfolded and holding a fake rifle above his head,  jumped off 3-meter high dive during water survival training.

“Just knowing that my water skills, my swimming skills are not where they need to be, I’m proud to see that determination can overcome that,” said Ellis, a senior at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School.

When it comes to completing the training, teamwork is most important, Seabourn said.

“Your friends push you forward, and you push them forward,” he said. “Together, you guys get through it.”


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