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Local JROTC cadets shine at Camp Eagle
Richmond Hill High School cadets celebrate their graduation from the JROTC Camp Eagle last week at Parris Island, S.C. - photo by Photo provided.

While the summer heat continues to sizzle and most people would choose to linger on the beach, 192 teens from 14 area high schools recently spent a week challenging their leadership skills during Camp Eagle at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C.

Selected cadets from the JROTC Richmond Hill High School competed for honors in academic and physical events. Several Richmond Hill cadets were among the best, including among the top four honor graduates.

Rising junior Zachary Jones was third-runner-up in the honor graduate competition. Other cadets from Richmond Hill awarded the honor graduate medals were Jacob Guisinger, Bill Buckman, Daniel Winters, Ian Phifer and Chloe Corson.

Camp Eagle’s commander Colonel Kenneth Koetz, who is also the Senior Army instructor at Bradwell Institute, said, “These cadets, selected by the leadership of our area schools, are in the top 10 percent of their respective classes. The graduation ceremony was to recognize all of our cadets’ achievements this week and to honor those that further distinguished themselves as leaders while at the camp,” said Col. Kenneth Koetz, Camp Eagle commander and senior Army instructor at Bradwell Institute.

Koetz said Camp Eagle started out the week with several goals in mind and got the cadets to shout out “Hooah!” confirming the cadre leaders of Camp Eagle met the cadets’ expectations. The camp’s leaders ensured the camp was about training with a focus on leadership, teamwork, adventure training and developing bonds of friendship.

“These cadets certainly met our expectations, and they have done some phenomenal things this week,” Koetz said. “You might find a few bruises and a few blisters on your cadets as you travel home today, but they had fun and they made new friends they might not otherwise have made.”

Cadets were challenged to be critical thinkers and decision makers while using teamwork to overcome obstacles and solve problems. The various lanes or courses included a 55-foot rappelling tower, a slide for life with a 55-foot drop, one-man rope bridges and one-man litter carries, as well as a team-challenge obstacle course on Fort Stewart and a land-navigation challenge course. The cadets also were trained in first aid.

Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Bradley, Richmond Hill’s top enlisted leader who also served as the camp’s command sergeant major, said, “This camp is designed to challenge our future leaders mentally and physically and to help them overcome any fears that may hinder them from being successful in life.”

“Our camp helps cadets in their decision making and gives them some tools to use to become confident leaders,” he added.
Amanda Elliott, a rising junior, chose the crucible course as her favorite event of the week.

“I loved the crucible course because as a leader of my team in that event, it made me think creatively, using only a few items and the talents of my team members to cross obstacles,” she said. “I am proud of the way my team met the challenge.”

Koetz closed the ceremony by thanking parents and family members who attended the graduation.

“These cadets appreciate your support, both today and throughout the year,” he said. “These cadets are our future military leaders, and your show of support means a lot to them.”

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