This post should really be titled Griffin’s Summer. This post is all about my youngest son and his adventures in JROTC.
The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp is a wonderful program. Most people (including me, before Griffin got involved in the program) think the JROTC is all about “recruiting” kids to enlist in the military when they graduate. What they actually do is teach young men and women respect, leadership skills, the importance of physical fitness and helping in their community, and they help them with their self-esteem. I cannot express how much I appreciate that our school has this program and how much it has done for Griffin over the past year. The program actually encourages all students to continue their education in college and they have some wonderful scholarship programs. Before JROTC, Griffin never said he wanted to go to college. His plan was to graduate from high school and enlist right into the military. Now he says he thinks he’ll go to college! For a boy who has always struggled in school, this is quite the revelation.
The program (at least at our school) is taught by retired military personnel. Where they guide the students and oversee everything, a lot of the program is really run by the upper classmen. They have ranks and duties just like the regular military. This encourages a great camaraderie among the kids that I love seeing.
Every summer there is a one week JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC). This is a one week camp for those that want to go. No cell phones, no television, no lazing on the beach. This is a mini boot camp! I don’t have pictures from when he was at camp because, well, I wasn’t there. But I have a few from when we dropped him off and picked him up.
All of the schools in the southeast Michigan area left from a local college. They were bussed the 4 hours to the camp and their journey began.
It was funny, we kept calling his duffel a sea bag because that’s what they call them in the Navy. He had to keep correcting us. And me, well I kept forgetting what it was really called. How hard is it to remember duffel?
That’s my baby, under the red arrow. (I apologize in advance for the over usage of arrows in these pictures.) This was their relaxed, goofy pose before heading out. As I said earlier, they only go if they want to. There are probably over 100 kids in his school’s JROTC program. I’d say about 25 – 30 of them actively participate in their drill competitions and other extra curricular activities. As you can see, about half of them decided on camp this year. It’s not for everyone. Most do it at least once…many find it too rigorous and don’t go back. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Once off the bus they were in-processed…assigned their bunks, bag check to make sure they had all they needed and nothing they weren’t supposed to have, etc. While there, different companies (there were 5, A-E…Griffin was C aka Charlie Company) had different activities each day. A last-minute change had his JROTC instructor from school as one of the sergeant’s in charge of his company! She had always told them she will be harder on her own students if that ever happens because she knows what they are capable of. No worries. He made her proud 🙂 He was one of 10 Let 1 (first year) cadets to get a “coin“. Not only was his sergeant proud, but so is his momma!
They did things like rappelling, one rope bridge, rock climbing, science experiments in teams, rafting, water safety, navigation (with a compass and map…no GPS for them!), and rifle shooting (where he got 99 points out of 100!) They had fire watch (taking turns patrolling the barracks at night in shifts), 5am wake up calls to PT (physical training) and other such military things. Some of them are even chosen to be squad leader for part of each day…unlike the adult military, they take turns by 1/2 day so as many of them can experience that leadership role as possible. He was chosen on the second day. Way to go my shy, introverted guy! You can see why it’s not for everyone. But my baby? He had a blast and cannot wait to go back next year.
We went up for graduation day with both of his grandmas. My mother-in-law lives about an hour from the base he was at so we went up and stayed the night with her so we didn’t have to get so early of a start on Saturday. As you can tell from the following pictures, it’s hard to really pick out your own kid, but I was able to find him.
There were over 500 kids who participated this year. This isn’t even all of them since I cut off part of Alpha Company on the right and Echo company on the left.
After that it was a lot of the usual military stuff…hurry up and wait. The kids had to get back to their barracks and make sure they were cleaned out, turn in uniforms, etc. They had a nice little reception area for us parents. Coffee, juice, fruit, pastries. They also had a video playing of things they had done throughout the week. His sergeant is hoping to get a copy for all of her kids by the time school starts. His company was one of the last to be released, but his buddies stuck around so they could compare notes (they don’t see each other much if they’re not in the same company except at chow, but they sit with their own squads at chow so don’t even get to talk then).
Rance and Cody are a year older than Griffin so this was their second time at JCLC. Although both boys are tall, this picture really makes me realize how much Griffin’s grown even from the end of June. He’s not as tall as them yet, but he’s gaining!
After this fun-filled week, it was back home and back to reality for Griffin. He’s spent most of his summer at summer school. From 8-11 Monday through Thursday and at least 3 hours a day at home. But a couple of weeks ago he finished that (yay!) and had all last week to himself. This week, OCS (Officer Candidate School) from 6-3 every day. That is the new Let 1 cadet’s mini-training camp. Since he’s officially no longer a Let 1, he is one of the squad leaders. His friend Rance is in charge (with supervision by sergeant of course) and Cody is the PT leader. What a great group of boys he’s friends with 🙂
Do you know anyone who has been a part of JROTC? Did they go to JCLC?