Baylor ROTC Hosts Junior Leadership Camp

News Photo 1390
Junior cadets participated in daily drill and ceremony exercises.
June 10, 2003

The Baylor campus looked more like the Air Force Academy last week, as the university's ROTC program hosted the regional Junior Air Force ROTC Summer Leadership Camp. Approximately 180 high school students from throughout Texas to as far away as Kansas participated. A number of Baylor ROTC cadets, as well as cadets from the University of Texas, served as support staff and "flight" (a group of 27 to 30 students) leaders.

"The summer leadership camp tries to recreate a boot camp experience," said Claire Kultgen, a senior aviation sciences major at Baylor. "But the mission of the camp is to help build better citizens. The kids don't necessarily join ROTC when they reach college."

That boot camp experience meant long days with little sleep for both students and instructors. While the campers could sleep until 5 a.m., the instructors were up by 4:30 to prepare for the day's activities.

For the highschoolers, each morning began at 5:30 with a physical training exercise and room inspection, followed by leadership seminars, drill and ceremony (marching) and leadership reaction course execution. In the evening, the students would play sports and write in their journals, which detailed the day's experiences. The day ended with lights out at 11 p.m., but instructors would work an additional two to three hours, often not reaching bed until 1 or 2 a.m.

"The kids are really scared when they begin camp, but they get it together as the week progresses," said Keith Pozza, a senior from San Antonio.

"They were so nervous that they called me 'sir' a lot of times," Kultgen added.

The campers enjoyed living in the residence halls and eating meals in the Penland cafeteria, and all thought the Student Life Center was a fantastic recreation center.

"It rained one morning, so we took the kids to the SLC. They were so impressed. They really liked the climbing rock and the pool with the slide," Pozza said.

Incoming Baylor freshmen Kimber Ray and Millie Bittenbinder are past graduates of the leadership camp and returned this year as support staff.

"The camp makes you more confident. You are able to take charge of situations, and it teaches discipline," said Ray, who is from Wylie.

Both girls will be cadets in Baylor's ROTC program and plan on Air Force careers.

"I really like the opportunities that a career in the military can give me after I graduate from Baylor," said Bittenbinder, who is from Temple.

The week ended with a graduation parade on Friday. During the closing ceremonies, various students were named distinguished graduates or were given other awards.

"We really challenge them during the week," Kultgen said. "But their faces really light up when we praise them. Because we push them so hard, they know that any compliments are sincere."

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