FORT KNOX, Ky.,- Cadets from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completed their land navigation test for Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 26, 2023. 

For the day test, Cadets must find at least three points out of four within the four hour time limit. 

Cadet Brooke Hawkins, University of Denver, said she felt confident going into her test. 

“My program really prepared me,” Hawkins said. “There’s also a lot of gravel trails out here, which is nice, so you don’t have to dead ruck the entire thing. It’s so pretty out here, so it’s also a plus when you’re doing land nav [navigation].” 

Cadets strayed off the gravel paths, going through fields and woods to find their given points. Because of the thunderstorms in the area the night before, many Cadets had to deal with puddles and slippery mud. Despite the muddy terrain, Hawkins passed, getting four out of four points, as did Cadet Antonia Adipietro, Norwich University.

A Cadet from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, plots his points on a map at the beginning of his land navigation test for Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 26, 2023. Cadets are given four points around the land navigation training area, and they must find at least three to pass the day portion. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office. 

“The test went well, I got four out of my four points,” Adipietro said. “When I was going for my second point I fell into a swamp. I continued through and stayed on track and ended up finding my point. I actually ran into it. Anytime there’s a depression, it’s just full of water, and you need to get across it to get to some of the trails, so you end up just falling in, just have to do it.” 

Hawkins told other Cadets to learn as much as they can from their instructors while at school, to make training at CST easier. 

“When you’re doing land navigation at your home university, don’t take the lab of it for granted, actually push yourself on that course because then once you get to your CST, then it’s going to be incredibly easy for you to pass,” Hawkins said. “So, just don’t miss out on any training opportunities just because you’re too tired or anything; just really try to push yourself because then it’ll make it all easier in the end.”

Although it is important to prepare as much as possible, once Cadets get to CST, they need to have confidence in themselves, which Adipietro noted in her advice.

A Cadet from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, uses her compass to find a point during her land navigation test, Fort Knox, Ky., June 26, 2023. Cadets find multiple points scattered throughout the fields and woods along gravel paths throughout the land navigation training area. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

“Stick with your gut,” Adipietro said. “Because sometimes you’ll see a trail and you’ll be confused with another trail, but you know what’s right, and you just have to stick it out. Don’t question yourself, don’t overthink and just stay on your track.”

Cadet Michael Conde, University of Notre Dame, also offered the advice of trusting in your own abilities and equipment. 

“My advice is, trust the process that you’ve been taught through your school and through the CST program,” Conde said. “Sometimes, trails aren’t going to look like what you would think on the map, but just trust your pace count, and trust your compass, and you’re gonna find the point eventually.”

During his time at CST, Conde said he has been learning about leadership. 

“If anything, I’ve learned what a good leader entails, and the different ways that you can be a leader,” Conde said. “CST is the perfect environment to teach that kind of thing, and we’ve learned so much about what it takes to be a good leader, and the preparation that goes towards that and how important that is.”

Conde expounded further. 

“You get a whole lot of people from very many different backgrounds and different types of personalities, and I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily have to be the most outspoken person to be a great leader,” Conde said. “You don’t have to be the loudest, the biggest, the strongest, but you can lead successfully through example, and through good choices: good, ethical choices, good, moral choices, good, sound decisions. Just assorted different ways to be a good leader. It doesn’t have to always be the loud rah-rah guy, but you can also be someone who just leads by example, who leads by model character.”

While Conde has been learning some of the principles of leadership, Adipietro highlighted some of the practical ways to learn leadership at CST, including the opportunity to be the platoon leader for 24 hours.

“You don’t really have much warning,” Adipietro said. “You’re just told, ‘Oh, you’re the platoon leader,’ and now, you have to figure it out from there. There’s a lot of things that change on the fly, you’ll have a solid plan, and then, they’ll be like ‘actually, this is happening now,’ and then, you have to adapt, and just stay calm, and it definitely builds leadership.”

A Cadet from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, runs to find his point on the day portion of his land navigation test, Fort Knox, Ky., June 26, 2023. Cadets must pass both the day and night land navigation test during Cadet Summer Training by finding multiple points in a set amount of time. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

As these two Cadets have learned about leadership, Hawkins has been discovering more about teamwork in a tangible way. 

“Working with other people and getting to know other people right off the bat is something that everyone needs to know,” Hawkins said. “So, this [CST] just strengthens that I would say. Being thrown into an uncomfortable situation with people you don’t know, it can be hard for some people, but it’s definitely a fun thing to do.”

Although the Cadets have been learning valuable lessons at CST, Conde’s desire for service and a family history are the factors, which led him to join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. 

“For one, my father was an Officer in the Army for 22 years, so I’m an Army brat myself, and I wanted to give back to this community that’s done so much for me,” Conde said. “[It] also helps that at my university. I have such a great program with a lot of friends that I really wanted to be around, and it’s helped me stay with the program and want to do well with it.”

Although Conde grew up, spending time around the military, due to his father’s service, that was not the case for the other two Cadets. Hawkins described her uncertainty about what she wanted to do with her life. 

“I applied for the ROTC scholarship out of nowhere, and got the scholarship and decided to do that,” Hawkins said. “I always felt the need to serve in my life. None of my family is military or anything, so I don’t really know where it came from, but I’m so glad that I did because I love it. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and I’m so excited for my future in the Army.”

A Cadet from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, finds one of his points during the land navigation test during Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 26, 2023. Cadets have four hours to find at least three out of four points during the daylight part of their test. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

Adipietro wanted to join for the opportunities and experiences the Army offers that will help her in the future.

“Going into Norwich University, which is a military school, I didn’t know much about the military because no one in my family was in it,” Adipietro said. “But then when I went to Norwich, I asked a lot of questions, and I was like, ‘Wow, this actually looks really good, and could benefit my future,’ and I ended up joining my sophomore year.”

After their day land navigation test, these Cadets will have a rest before they head back out into the field, to find two points in two hours during the night portion of the test, which is the last step to passing land navigation and going forward to the rest of CST.