MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Cadets from Parkville, Md. and Woodbridge, Del., with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, visited Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., from June 20-24, 2011, to get first-hand experience of military life and customs.
Many of the cadets have a high interest in joining the armed forces and were very excited to visit a real military establishment.
“These kids like structure. They love regimented environments. They enjoy doing things the average kids can’t do,” said retired Master Sgt. James Ruffin, a JROTC Marine Instructor. “Those are the type of kids these are.”
The cadets visited different units and participated in various training exercises throughout the week to get a better idea of the military career they want to do later on in their lives.
“I find this trip to be very rewarding for many of my students,” said retired Capt. Michael Long, the senior Marine instructor at Parkville High School. “When they come down here, I want them to feel the Marine Corps experience and want them to understand the Marine Corps lifestyle as much as possible.”
During the week, the cadets were able to climb inside tanks, shoot simulated weapons, take part in Marine Corps physical training sessions and get canine demonstrations from Marine Corps dog handlers.
“They’ve had a pretty packed week,” said Cpl. Jamie Bonalewicz, a former student and JROTC member at Parkville High School. “During the PT sessions, they had them flipping seven-ton tires during a relay race, so these kids definitely got a good workout.”
Although the Camp Lejeune visit is a good experience for any cadet, only the best students from the high schools’ JROTC programs were able to attend.
“These are the kids that are academically on track and passing all their classes,” said Ruffin. “They also have stayed clean of any disciplinary problems, so these are a few of many who have been handpicked and rewarded for their hard work.”
Not all the cadets attending were still in high school. Some of them are just a few weeks away from recruit training and making their final decisions on which career path they want to take.
“This is a great experience for me, and I definitely have a better understanding of what I want to do,” said cadet Stephen Walters, a student and JROTC member of Parkville High School. “I recently graduated from high school and enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program, so this certainly helped with my decision-making.”
Although some of the cadets have several years before they choose a career, by visiting Camp Lejeune they were able to experience what life in the military would be like.
“After seeing military life like this first-hand, I am positive this is what I want to do,” said Colleina Charles, a student and JROTC member of Parkville High School. “I had a great time and learned so much while I was here.”