By: Mattie Cook
Cadet Michael Hallstrom, University of Kentucky, Ky., rappels down the 64-foot tower on Fort Knox, Ky., Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo by Mattie Cook)
Fort Knox, Ky.,- Cadets of 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp participated in their final must pass event Wednesday, the 64-foot rappel tower.
Nervous energy surrounds the tower as many Cadets battle a fear of heights, like Cadet Alex Marshall, Gannon University, PA.
“I’ve rappelled before at my school so that wasn’t really new. I think it’s cool because I’m afraid of heights but rappelling is easy; you just trust your equipment and your Cadre,” he said. “Everything in place here is to protect Cadets, from the NCOs up at the top of the tower to your equipment and belay. Nothing is going to happen to you.”
In addition to the rappel tower, Cadets are cycled through the confidence course, an obstacle course designed to encourage teamwork and overcoming challenges. Cadets work together as a platoon to make it through the individual obstacles but as always, have Cadre members to help guide and motivate them.
Cpt. Kyle Gellhaus, 399th Fort Knox, Ky., says the obstacle course really isn’t about the obstacles themselves.
“The confidence course has numerous obstacles and the biggest thing we want the Cadets to come away with is that they challenge themselves and use personal courage to face adversity. That’s when they grow as leaders,” Gellhaus said. “We’re not actually here to train them on each obstacle, but it’s more a life value that they learn they can attempt something they’ve never done before and overcome it. If you don’t know how to climb a rope, there are multiple ways to go about it and attack it and learn from it and grow. You can overcome an obstacle you’ve never seen before.”
Cadets 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp rappel down the 64-foot tower on Fort Knox, Ky., Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo by Mattie Cook)
As Second Lieutenants, Cadets will lead platoons of soldiers looking to them for direction and support.
“The confidence course is for them to overcome their fears, so they can be confident leaders, not clamming up in front of their soldiers and things like that. They’re going to have some soldiers right out of high school looking to them for guidance,” said. Staff Sgt. Aaron Johnson, 399th Fort Knox, Ky. “Confidence is big in leadership. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, your soldiers won’t have confidence in you. I hope when they leave here they say that it did help them overcome specific fears and that they look forward to more training like this in the future.”
Cadet Joshua Keruski, George Mason Unviersity, rappels down the 64-foot tower on Fort Knox, Ky., Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo by Mattie Cook)
As platoon leaders and farther into their Army careers, these future officers will face physical obstacles of all sorts as well as challenges in life. If Cadets can learn to assess different situations and approach obstacles in more than one way while implementing teamwork and humility, their leadership potential is limitless.
“The obstacles require some teamwork and motivation and you’ll see a lot of the Cadets learn. They don’t know to climb a rope but with a little instruction and encouragement, they overcome it. It’s a growing experience for them. A lot of them think that if they can’t do all the obstacles that they’re a failure and that’s not true,” Gellhaus said. “There’s no doctrine you can flip through that says here’s how to handle every single situation, so this course helps teach critical thinking as well as use some physical endurance to kind of wear them out.”
Cadets of 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp will conclude their time at Cadet Summer Training August 12 with a graduation ceremony and return to their respective universities to complete their senior year of ROTC and academic programs.