The University of Houston’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) hosted a week-long leadership course on campus, June 12-17, for 350 students from 19 regional high schools. These students, all Air Force cadets within their high schools’ Junior ROTC (JROTC) programs, were competitively selected to attend the course, and spent the week engaging in challenging physical training, precision marching drills, academics, teamwork exercises, and more. The capstone event was a graduation parade on UH’s recreation center fields.
Leadership training began as soon as the cadets arrived at UH that Monday afternoon and continued full-throttle through Saturday morning. UH’s Air Force ROTC staff, cadets and recent alumni—now Air Force lieutenants—greeted them in traditional “boot camp” fashion and provided sufficient motivation as they in-processed and prepared their dorm rooms and uniforms for daily inspection. Each day began with an early morning physical training session, consisting of pushups, sit-ups and a mile run. Meals were eaten at attention, in silence, and daily drill practice featured the same level of discipline. Competitive sports and teamwork exercises provided a chance for the cadets to let off some steam and build camaraderie. After a week of hard work, the cadets had a chance to compete in a tug-of-war tournament and test their skills on a mobile American Ninja Warrior course.
The camp’s structure is designed around Houston’s involvement with the Space program. The cadets were divided into groups based on level of experience: “Discovery” was for first-year attendees; “Challenger” was for second-year attendees; and “Endeavor” was for juniors. The “Endeavor” cadets filled leadership roles and helped run the course, garnering hands-on experience for the responsibilities they will take on in their units this fall.
The Houston-area Air Force JROTC leadership camp has been hosted at UH for the last three years, and is sponsored by the Department of Aerospace Studies within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.