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Letting fear run their lives? For some 2nd Regiment Cadets, not anymore.

Cadet Richard Santini, in 2nd Regiment from University of Puerto Rico, rappels and slides down the belay rope from a 64-foot tower during Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Ky on June 10, 2021. Before attempting the side with no wall, like what Santini is doing, Cadets had to complete the side of the rappel tower with the wall. | Photo by Anna Pray, Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs Office

Those Cadets just learned how a 64-foot rappel tower test can help them overcome fears and build confidence within themselves during Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp.

The main challenge for those Cadets was facing a fear of heights. 

“I’m not ashamed to say that I’m scared of heights,” said Cadet Jeanille George from University of Colorado Colorado Springs. “My fear is really falling.”

While fear may have tried to control some Cadets’ thoughts, the danger was solely in their minds. The best solution? Replace that fear with confidence in their equipment and training. 

Cadet Lucas Mortensen, in 2nd Regiment from Minnesota State University, tied his rope alongside other Cadets so that they could safely attempt the rappel tower during Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Ky on June 10, 2021. | Photo by Anna Pray, Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs Office

First, the Cadets fashion a harness from a length of rope; a swiss seat. Once on the towers, the harness is connected to a rope that hangs to the ground. At the bottom, others fill the role of the belayer by holding the end of the rope to pull down – braking the rappeler – in the event they lose control. 

While the rappel tower is originally for tactical training, the design also helps Cadets overcome any fears of heights they may have.  

“Some people say fear controls our lives,” said Cadet Richard Santini, from University of Puerto Rico. “I think fear fuels our lives. If you have fear, you need to face it. If you don’t, you will be stuck and never progress in life. Even though I hate heights, I chose to put my fear aside, embrace it and complete the mission.”

Other Cadets took the opportunity to help out others who were nervous about the rappel tower. 

“This is the first time that many of them are doing this,” said Cadet Marcelino Avelar, in Alpha Company 2nd Regiment from Arizona State University, who is in the Green and Gold Army Program and an Active Duty soldier. “I felt like it was my duty to help motivate them.”

“This confidence course helps us soldiers and future officers to really employ our knowledge, expertise and security of ourselves,” said Santini. “We help our peers and we help ourselves to complete the mission. We do that here at the confidence course and rappel tower.”

A Cadet, from 2nd Regiment, gets ready to rappel down the 64-foot wall on the rappel tower during Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp on June 10, 2021 at Fort Knox, Ky. | Photo by Anna Pray, Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs Office


One Cadet, specifically, even felt nervous going up the stairs to the 64-foot rappel tower, but felt differently once she completed the exercise. 

“Looking back at it now, it feels really good,” said Cadet Grace Clement, in Alpha Company 2nd Regiment, when talking about going down the tower with the belay ropes. “I think it gave me courage knowing that I can do things. It definitely built my confidence up.”

Like the rappel tower, there are other exercises and tests that will help build the confidence and skills of Cadets throughout their time at Cadet Summer Training. 

“This is just the first step,” said Avelar. “Once they realize they can do this, they’re going to feel like they can do anything.”