AFJROTC: Building citizens of character

By Devin Richuito Cadet

The quiet atmosphere at Sembach Annex was interrupted this summer by a group of Department of Defense Dependents Shools Europe Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets.

They chose to come to the 2009 Summer Leadership School, a school where carefully selected cadets from all over Europe, including cadets as far away as Rota, Spain, and Lakenheath, England, come to enhance several important abilities.

Summer Leadership School is a school modeled after a modified military academy lifestyle. The academic curriculum includes leadership, health and nutrition, military etiquette, drill and ceremony and American and European history. The cadets are also trained in leadership, drill and ceremony procedures and patriotism.

This year, 87 Air Force cadets, 60 Army cadets, 19 Navy cadets and three JROTC high schools came to SLS. To manage all the cadets, a staff of cadre was needed.

 The cadre was a mix of aerospace Army instructors, aerospace Air Force instructors and an Air Force active-duty non-commissioned officer from some of the DODDS Europe JROTC units, and five cadet training officers. CTOs are highly motivated cadets who have previously graduated from SLS and have exceptional leadership qualities. Additionally, a CTO must submit an application and be properly qualified because CTOs live and sleep among the cadet trainees and interact directly with them.

Daily life for cadets is very busy. CTOs wake the cadets up at 5 a.m. to get ready for the raising of the flags and for physical training.

After physical training, cadets march back by flight to the dorms where they have about 15 to 20 minutes to get ready for breakfast. After breakfast, the cadets’ day really kicks off. Flights alternate between doing drill and ceremonies training and academic instruction.

At noon, cadets form up into lunch formation and march to lunch. From 1 to 5 p.m., cadets continue training. Dinner is served at 5 p.m. followed by sports – volleyball or softball – JROTC style. After returning from sports, cadets have a two hour period that consists of cleaning bathrooms and hallways, straightening rooms, studying and instructor guidance and evaluation. Then at 10 p.m., the CTOs call lights out, and everyone must be in bed, lights off, and no talking.

SLS sports have different rules than normal. Cadets must stand at the position of attention and ask permission to serve or hit the ball. Cadets are also responsible for keeping the correct score and making sure all their wingmen are included in the line-up. The rules and restrictions are in place to help keep the games safe and under control, as well as provide discipline and teamwork. If any rule or protocol is broken, the offending team looses the ball, and in some cases, the other team is awarded a point.

At first, the majority of the cadets struggle with the intensity of the two week school, as many of them at home are not required to keep a spotless room and maintain a strict dress code.

As time goes on, however, cadets start to adjust to the demanding atmosphere and begin to excel. By the end of the camp, many of the cadets love the lifestyle and wish to come back the next year as a CTO to pass on the knowledge and

experience that they received.