Posted By RichC on July 12, 2006
Here’s a “what I did over my summer vacation” summer camp type story … only it wasn’t me. (my life is a bit dull in comparison to my teenage son)
My high school son was privileged to go on a military oriented leadership camp this summer up in the Green Mountains of Vermont. This was something he had applied, submitting letters of reference, etc and really wanted to do. There were few downsides, but my wife and I concluded that a military oriented Future Leaders Camp would actually be an excellent experience.
1) It would help develop character traits required for leadership in life — particularly in the military
2) It would expose him to the rigors of a military oriented education — be it an academy, a military college or ROTC program
3) It would promote or de-mote Norwich University as a college option.
My son returned this past weekend full of the stories and camp comradely often part of team building and in-depth time together. From inspections, to marching drills and heavy physical training, it was about what I expected from a group of future and ex-military folks; there was no soft-selling the program. The days were broken down into learning tasks centered around leadership and the development of those qualities. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was studied for his leadership qualities and was part of the daily study. From the 0530 role call to the surprise 3 AM wake up calls due to instructors finding a stray sock in the bathroom, it was all part of the discipline one assumes in military service. (its interesting to see how quickly terms are acquired and repeated once he returned home) It was fun to hear about all the after-the-fact humorous moments as well as the ‘roasting’ of instructors when the camp concluded.
A couple of highlights that I found funny: A Major ‘Somebody’ drove a VW Golf TDI (diesel) and ‘according to my son,’ biodiesel was available everywhere in Vermont. I asked if he talked with him? “Dad … you don’t just go and talk to a Major without being spoken too.” Another one was the slide presentation before heading out for a ‘survival camp’ or perhaps a one of the hike up Camel’s Hump Mountain. The instructor displayed items of danger on the screen. There were several joking slides of things like squirrels with a rocket launcher to black bears with smiley face hats. Then the most ‘serious danger’ … a photo of a Vermont hippie with the long hair, peace signs, etc.
Of course it is funny, but it does go to show the contempt between those seen as the anti-military ‘liberal left’ and the more conservative ‘right leaning’ mindset. It would be nice to see a couple of the mouthpieces on the ‘left’ ease up on their disdain for the US troops and treat those serving our country with the respect they deserve. Agree or disagree with the administration and what foreign policy we are involved in, but support America’s military men, women and families — a reference to funeral protesting. Who knows, it might go a long way in improving the attitude ‘most’ serving and supporting the US military have regarding anti-war ‘political’ positions? I respect most political views, but have little tolerance for the degradation of our country and those fighting and dying out of duty.
Back to the story. My son came away far wiser than he left. One of the conversations with an instructor as he was being driven to camp was very insightful. It went like this — Instructor: “Do you want to attend a military academy or university?” My son stated truthfully, “I don’t know.” Instructor: “Right answer, how could you know if you want a 7 day a week military environment.” The beauty for parents and son alike, is that after returning he better understands what life under Uncle Sam’s control 24/7 is like. He concluded, at least for now, tip-toeing into the military might be a better option. Oh, he still wants to be a pilot for the military someday, but might he might just look at a few avenues other than a full Military education due to this excellent Future Leaders Camp.