Drill Sergeants and newly commissioned Second Lieutenants helped to direct 3rd Regiment, Basic Camp Cadets through the Rugger’s Rope Course during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 15, 2022.
In the mix of these senior leaders were a group of Cadets that have been at CST 2022 longer than most of the Cadre this summer. This group of Cadets recently graduated from CST less than a month ago and now serve as MSIII mentors for Basic Camp.
Prior to graduating from Advanced Camp, senior Army ROTC Cadets have the opportunity to serve as MSIII mentors for Basic Camp regiments where they assist in providing guidance and leadership to underclassmen Cadets going through the basic course.
Cadet Ryan Pruitt was recommended by his cadre to serve as a MSIII mentor because of his experience in attending Basic Camp last summer. One year later, he finds himself back at Cadet Summer Training, graduated from Advanced Camp and in the role of where his mentors once were.
“The mentors I had last year were good, I still talk to them today,” said Pruitt. “They had a big part of my development in Basic Camp. So hopefully I can do the same to the Cadets that I have right now.”
Cadet Benjamin Barner is another MSIII mentor that volunteered because he wanted to gain experience helping to lead a platoon before commissioning.
“MSIII Cadre are basically people that connect with the Cadets closer than maybe a Lieutenant or Sergeant will,” said Barner.
Senior Drill Sgt. Lucas Blackburn has multiple MSIII mentors under him, to include Pruitt and Barner. The mentors take part in all leadership meetings, maintain accountability, and give Basic Camp Cadets a helpful resource to talk to and ask questions.
“When you are competent enough to train someone in a subject that you are now a subject matter expert in, it sticks in your head better.” said Senior Drill Sgt. Blackburn. “When you learn something, or whenever you can train it to someone else, you really know it – so this is their chance to train the ones that came through and they still have the mentality of what it was like to be them.”
The mentors understand what the Basic Camp Cadets are going through, because they were in their shoes last summer. Providing that connection of empathy and trust helps Basic Camp Cadets to communicate with their mentors and ask questions.
“My definition of mentorship would be a person’s ability to not only be able to regurgitate information, but someone who has the experience and knowledge base and is able to take the information they have and give it to someone else,” said Senior Drill Sgt. Blackburn. “Everyone in the Army is trained at a subconscious level to look out for the person to the left and right, so you always know the person’s job ahead of you and the job behind it.”