JROTC provides cadets leadership challenge

Submitted Photos Pictured at top is the high ropes exercise that builds confidence and ability in a safe environment. At left are cadets working together to place a tire above the pier as part of the Leader Reaction and Challenge Course.

Special to the OBSERVER

Its Wet, It’s Sandy, It’s High, It’s Wooded, it’s Adventurous and it’s hard work! It’s the Western NY JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Course) Cadet Leadership Challenge held annually in Angola at Camp Pioneer. Seven of the Western NY JROTC programs from Dunkirk, Buffalo, Rochester and Carthage assemble together every summer to provide these young adults the opportunity to build their self-confidence, learn teamwork and earn a memorable positive lifetime experience. JROTC is a high school program co-sponsored by the armed forces to instill discipline and good citizenship in young adults to keep them on the path toward college or a vocation after school to become a successful and engaged member of society.

The 4-day challenge takes the cadets out of their comfort zone and challenges them with aquatics, leader reaction and teambuilding lanes, land navigation and high ropes exercise with rock walls, rappelling and zip lining. Let’s not forget the physical training and testing of their ability which is the building block of outdoor challenges.


The cadets arrive throughout the morning and are split up and assigned into individual platoons where they will be living and working together in cottages for the next several days. Beginning with a few introductions, a safety briefing and a quick box lunch, the cadets rapidly get involved in the fun. In a round-robin fashion, each platoon sets out to meet the day’s challenges.


Here cadets are challenged to face the water. Working as a team they race to the buoy line, flip the canoe and pull it back to shore as a relay team. The canoes are unsinkable and lifeguards are in the water monitoring their progress every stroke of the way. High winds and high waves add to the challenge as everyone successfully works together to complete the task. However, not everyone makes it to the buoy line before flipping the canoe.

Of course, there is always an extra prize for those who don’t finish first.

And yes, the sand does come out of your teeth, and other inconvenient spaces.

A few more beach competitions and on to the next event.


Here the cadets are given various obstacles and challenges that require them to work together as a team to find the solution. To the right the squad works together to place a tire above the pier. The cadets also are faced with a challenge of navigating across a series of cinder blocks without touching the ground, only using the boards provided.


Daring and over-coming fear of heights and sense of accomplishment — every cadet that makes it to the top safely make their way back to the ground, with an exhilarating ride to Mother Earth. Cadets build their confidence and ability in a controlled and safe environment with all the necessary safety equipment and harness to protect them in the event of slips and falls.