SANTA RITA, Guam -- Junior ROTC (JROTC) cadets from several schools on Guam participated in the Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC) on board U.S. Naval Base Guam Dec. 13-17.
Maj. Paul Luarca, director of Army instruction for George Washington High School (GWHS), Simon Sanchez High School (SSHS) and Southern High School (SHS) said he appreciated the opportunity to have the students conduct their exercise on NBG as it strengthened ties between the military and local community.
"I want to thank the Navy out here for giving us time to come out and use Gab Gab Beach and other facilities on base," he said. "You know without the Navy's support we would not have had the JCLC, so we are really thankful for them allowing the cadets to come out here and train."
Approximately 180 cadets from GWHS, SSHS, SHS and Guam High School participated in realistic military exercises that tested the students' mental and physical skills.
"We are teaching them what they learned in the classroom in how to survive in the field environment," Luarca said. "We mainly taught the cadets leadership skills, communication skills and how to take command of each other schools."
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) 2nd Class Rendel Mews, of EOD Mobile Unit 5, assisted the cadets during the exercise and said he was glad to see young adults applying themselves to the program.
"I think (ROTC) is a great experience to test the waters," he said. "It's a good choice to make, and it builds their character."
Luarca said each day the students changed their leadership position allowing each school the opportunity to command the unit.
During the exercise the cadets completed several events including a biathlon and Taotaomona obstacle course.
"The Taotaomona obstacle course was challenging; involving a lot of upper and lower body strength," said Cadet Staff Sgt. Thomas Herrera from SHS.
Herrera said the cadets had to do go through a stretcher-carry course, rope climbing, running, and also had to swim with cinder blocks at the Gab Gab Beach pools.
The cadets retained the lessons learned over the weekend and applied them to their final test Dec. 17 as they were required to rappel down a 60-foot tower.
"It takes a lot of courage to rappel down the tower," Herrera said. "It is a really good experience that trains people who want to be in the service to deal with life-and-death situations."
Luarca said the program allows the cadets to get out of the classroom and apply what they learned in the field.
"These kids are a lot more ahead of the other students in their high schools in the training they receive here at events like the JCLC and through the teaching they receive at the schools," Luarca said. "The events like this give the children the opportunity to grow and learn while keeping them away from drugs and other dangers the youth face in society."