Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Students try life in ROTC

July 18, 2001
New Lothrop resident Jerry Birchmeier, 16, pulls himself across a rope bridge between Munn Ice Arena and Demonstration Hall on Monday. High-schoolers from throughout Michigan were at MSU for the Future Farmers of America Leadership Camp. The bridge was built by MSU’s Army ROTC. —

The heat was beating down, the enemies were closing in and the troops had to navigate across a river using only a rope bridge.

This wasn’t real combat; it was a simulation used by MSU’s Army ROTC to help students from different organizations define the meaning of teamwork.

Forty-five high school students from all over Michigan, decked out in camouflage shirts and dog tags, gathered to take part in the Future Farmers of America Leadership Camp on Monday.

The camp consists of high school students who have just been elected as FFA regional officers.

“We help stress the importance of teamwork and we also get a chance to give our input,” Capt. Doug White said.

This is not the first time the ROTC has helped out the community.

“Every year we try to do something for the community. Usually the organizations contact us, but the university contacts us for some groups,” White said.

The ROTC already held demonstrations earlier this year for children who are hearing- and speaking-impaired and for kids from the inner city.

The ROTC cadets set up a rope course using the trees between Demonstration Hall and Munn Ice Arena. The students had to build a harness, attach the harness to the rope with a clamp and then pull themselves over the simulated “river” - a ditch.

Coordinators for FFA were pleased to have the ROTC help out with their leadership camp.

FFA coordinators Ryan Robinson and Kara Butters helped organize the two-day conference. The conference helps kids with leadership responsibilities, working on presentation skills and the importance of teamwork.

“We contacted the university and the ROTC about having a boot camp theme for this year’s leadership camp. We wanted to focus on the importance of working as a team,” Robinson said.

Sam Scarborough, an 18-year-old from Stevenson, Mich., in the Upper Peninsula, drove seven hours to attend the conference.

“I’m having a good time, I know quite a bit of people here and it’s nice to meet the students from the different chapters,” Scarborough said.

Members of FFA do various community service and leadership training courses throughout the year in regional areas.

Lt. Tom Enterline said the rope course demonstration is meant for smaller groups of people. But, because of time constraints, students weren’t able to build the bridge themselves and time how fast they could get across.

“I think the kids have a lot of fun, and I think it’s a great team-building activity and it gives the chance for them to see what we do,” he said.

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