By Sydney Callis
Leader’s Training Course
The name “summer camp,” to some, conjures up visions of making friendship bracelets and toasting marshmallows by the fire. The moniker is misleading when it comes to the Leader’s Training Course, an Army ROTC summer program designed to develop future officers.
The more than 1,500 Cadets travelling to Fort Knox for the course, which kicks off Thursday and is sometimes referred to as “camp,” can look forward to high-adventure activities including rappelling off of a 50-foot high tower, crossing a stream on rope bridges, a high ropes obstacle course and combat water survival training.
However, the military skills acquired during the course, which started in 1965, are not the only skills Cadets take away from their 29 days of training. Along with developing leadership skills, cadets experience self-discovery, said Lt. Col. Brian Slack, chief of training for the course.
“There’s some people who have fears of heights or water, and those are just two examples,” Slack said. “But because we challenge them mentally and physically with heights or water, and most of them overcome that fear, they leave here knowing they can do things they didn’t know they were capable of doing.”
As trainer for the rappel tower, Lt. Col. Ken Weiland, the professor of military science at Penn State University, sees firsthand cadets overcoming their fears.
“Watching young men and women making that transition from scared to death to confident in what they’re doing and having fun, that’s pretty rewarding,” Weiland said.
LTC is led by U.S. Army Cadet Command’s 1st Brigade, which encompasses 11 senior and junior military colleges across the country. For Cadets not previously enrolled in ROTC during their freshman or sophomore years in college, LTC prepares college students for entry into the Senior Army ROTC program and helps prepare them to eventually commission into the Army.
Last summer’s course saw 742 graduates, while the expected number for this summer is more than 1,500. Numbers of attendees varies from year to year based on the needs of the Army.
To accommodate this year’s growth in cadets, the number of companies will also increase, growing from five to seven. The final graduation is scheduled for Aug. 11.
Continuing the expansion, LTC is adding to its roster of trainers. College juniors and senior ROTC cadets will be training LTC cadets this summer, as well as a few of the Army’s brand new officers.
“Inside of each company we have a drill sergeant with each squad, and we also have a newly commissioned lieutenant,” Slack said. “From Memorial Day weekend to mid-August, we will have folks here on the ground in Fort Knox running training.”
The new aspects of LTC expand even more with recently renovated LTC buildings. After moving in March 2012 from a building next to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command to facilities that were once home to the 194th Armored Training Brigade, 1st Brigade of U.S. Army Cadet Command has been working on renovating the buildings around its new headquarters. Six of the eight buildings were renovated, roads resurfaced and landscaping redone as part of the roughly $5 million project.
“It’s changed the face of this footprint,” said Julie Norman, director of brigade operations and chief of staff for the Leader’s Training Course. “They’re not done yet. After this summer, they’ll finish the other buildings if money comes available.”
The new headquarters location moved the brigade’s offices closer to a few of LTC’s training sites and the Cadets’ barracks.
Upon graduation of the course, Cadets receive military science course credit for training they would have received during their freshman and sophomore years.
“We know and track the tasks they need to pass here that they would have been tested on if they were ROTC cadets sitting in class their freshman and sophomore years,” Slack said. “We do things that are fun and adventurous that appeal to their sense of adventure, trying to convince them that the Army lifestyle is for them.”