Patriot Company goes off the map for leadership crash course

Khanh Dao, Staff Writer

“Pick a number.”
“Seven minutes. That’s how long we’re staying here for.”
For what seemed like a marathon, the cadets groaned, puffed, and shook their way through the simple exercise of holding both arms parallel to the shoulders. Their arms drooped and dropped every now and then, only to be picked up again by those of their fellows. Encouraging words were exchanged between the heavy breaths, and for the last sixty seconds, not a single limb sagged. “Quiet your minds,” they were reminded.
This arm hold was just one of the many challenges of Basic Leadership Training. Over the weekend of October 11-14, 69 Liberty NJROTC cadets gave up their electronic devices to camp at Cispus Learning Center, situated among the Cascade foothills. From 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, each day was packed with group activities, naval science lessons, personnel inspections, and of course, fitness sessions.
“I did way more in a day than I previously thought possible,” junior Bruce Vagt shared. “Every exercise, activity, and meal were supposed to increase our unity and teamwork.”
In particular, the Cispus ropes course demanded that the cadets work together towards a common goal, whether it meant moving together through “infested waters” with limited equipment or helping one another reach the final rung of the Giant’s Ladder.
Later in the same day was final inspection, the highly anticipated test of both the cadets’ military appearance and knowledge. “With a little help from each other, we all got it down and did great!” freshman Sanjana Addanki said. “Basic Leadership Training (BLT) showed me that within Patriot Company, you are never alone. You always have a great group of friends if you ever need help, and it inspired me to do the same for them.”
For sophomore Taylor Le, a returning BLT participant, this year’s camp was an entirely new experience—the instructors placed her in command of a platoon. “The stress of learning to lead, whether it was with marching or studying, and setting a good example for other cadets helped build a self-confidence that will surely stick with me outside of NJROTC.”