Basic Camp is four weeks of intense classroom and field training held in the summer at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Completion of Basic Camp, qualifies Cadets who missed the first two years of ROTC for enrollment in the Army ROTC course offered by their host school. According to some Cadets, Basic Camp is an opportunity for them not to give up on their dreams.

Cadet Roberto Ortega, from Central Michigan University, always dreamed of being in the United States Army. When he joined his school’s ROTC program late, he didn’t think this dream would come true, but coming to Basic Camp gave him a second chance. 

“I just want to speed up to [Cadets in my battalion] and learn all the basics about the military, the United States Army and overall just getting the experience of what I’m going to be leading in the future as a warrior leader,” Ortega said.

2nd Regiment Basic Camp Cadets attempt to qualify with their M4 at Pop Up Familiarization training at Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky on July 14, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

Ortega is very grateful to have the opportunity to attend Basic Camp. He always wanted to join the Army not only for himself, but also for his family. 

“My grandpa was a second lieutenant in the Army. I’m named after him, my first name is Roberto, his first name was Roberto,” Ortega said. “My grandma, she said I looked like him a lot and we have the same type of personality so I think that was a great motivation to join the Army and follow his steps. He’s always been a motivator for me since I was a little kid and I always looked up to him.”

Like Ortega, Cadet Rose Gelin, from the University of Oklahoma, who already has a career as a social worker, decided to use Basic Camp as a path to pursue her dreams.

“I tried ROTC when I was an undergrad back in 2012-2013 and it was really hard for me and I was young so I failed, so I decided that I was going to quit,” said Gelin. “This is my second chance at trying again for ROTC and making it as an officer in the Army.”

Cadet Rose Gelin, from The University of Oklahoma, and Cadet Marc Marvens, from the University of South Carolina, finish qualification shooting at Pop Up Familiarization at Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky on July 14, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

After Gelin left ROTC in 2013, she continued on with her post secondary plans. She graduated with a master’s degree in social work from the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri 

“As an older Cadet, I’m 28, I want to be a mentor to the younger Cadets in my battalion when I go back to Oklahoma,” said Rose. “I want to be able to mentor the younger Cadets to teach them all the right things to do before they come here.”

After completing Basic Camp, Gelin plans to attend the University of Oklahoma where she’ll be a part of the Sooner Battalion. While attending OU, Gelin will be pursuing her second master’s degree.