FORT KNOX – Ky. – Sweat dripped off the rim of a Cadet’s patrol cap as he and his fellow Cadets from 8th Regiment, Basic Camp maneuvered their way through the Team Development Course (TDC) in the ninety-degree heat on July 21.
Despite the heat, humidity and the demanding nature of each obstacle throughout the course, Cadets learned valuable lessons on the importance of communication, teamwork and leadership.
Cadet Kevin Wilhelm, Hawaii Pacific University, maneuvers along a wooden beam at the team development course on July 21 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock
“TDC is all about team building,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gene Ray. “It’s teaching Cadets to work together out of a group they’ve just met while they learn how to lead and how to navigate problem areas.”
TDC is composed of multiple obstacles that tests Cadets ability to come together and overcome adversity. Although the obstacles themselves are short in length, they’re incredibly complex in nature.
For the obstacle Sgt. Ray is in charge of, Cadets must transfer from one elevated platform to another via zip line and harness. Cadets cannot in any way touch the yellow painted areas of each platform, which serves as the majority of the course and they cannot touch the ground.
In addition, one of their fellow Cadets has been injured and is unconscious. Cadets must navigate the zip line to not only land safely on the second platform, but to also care for their injured comrade and see that he or she makes it to safety as well.
“Cadets struggle most with working together,” said Ray. “If they don’t communicate and if five or six individuals are talking at once then they’re not working together and the mission doesn’t get completed.”
Cadet Mack Eberhardt, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, navigates through an obstacle at the team development course on July 21 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock
For the Cadets of 8th Regiment, Basic Camp, learning how to lead is just as important as leaning how to follow.
“You always hear that someone wants to be a good leader – everybody wants to be a leader and to show others how it done,” said Cadet Mack Eberhardt, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “But to be able to work as a team you can’t have 10 leaders. You need to know who’s going to be able to lead the squad and who’s going to take orders.”
“To be a good leader you need to know how to be a good follower,” said Eberhardt.
With three weeks to go until graduation, Eberhardt is feeling optimistic about the rest of his time at Cadet Summer Training.
“We still have to rappel, zip line and go through the gas chamber,” said Eberhardt. “We have a lot of things left where it’s going to take mental toughness, teamwork and discipline. After today, I’d say we’re off to a good start.”