JROTC Cadets Develop Leadership Skills Firsthand
By Sgt Chanin Nuntavong
| | April 07, 2001
FORT DIX, N.J. --
The First Marine Corps District Cadet Leadership Development Academy 2001 was held here from April 3 - 7.
More than 500 Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets from 17 different high schools throughout the Northeast gathered to learn about teamwork, leadership and fellowship.
"Through a common bond of leadership, we brought together community service and a genuine love for the Marine Corps," said Lt. Col. James S. Sfayer, Tottenville High School, Staten Island, N.Y. Senior Marine Instructor and the Cadet Leadership Development Academy Camp Commander. "It [the CLDA] is a life changing experience that places the Marine Corps in their [cadets'] minds and hearts for a lifetime because they learn that 'leadership is not a spectator sport.'"
The academy's training program consisted of a number of disciplines such as rappelling, customs and courtesies, land navigation and drill. Cadets also participated in the confidence course, obstacle course, and the leadership reaction course.
"The academy is motivating, challenging and helps build character," said Cadet Lance Cpl. Lisa Higgins, a Tottenville High School student.
Providing the cadets with challenges and motivation were drill instructors from recruit depots in Parris Island, S.C. and San Diego, Calif., as well as the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va. Rappel masters, corpsmen and other Marines also came from bases and posts around the United States in support of this year's CLDA.
"We teach cadets how to have the confidence to overcome fear," said Gunnery Sgt. John M. Thibodeau, Drill Instructor at the Cadet Leadership Development Academy.
The Cadet Leadership Development Academy began in 1997 and has been conducted every year here, except in 1999 when the CDLA was cancelled because Kosovo refugees were brought to Fort Dix.
According to Sfayer, each year the number of cadets who attend the academy increases.
"This means that more cadets are motivated and ready to learn about self-discipline, responsibility, integrity and leadership," said Sfayer. "As a teacher I fully understand the seriousness of our responsibility to our students, but until you test them away from home and in a foreign environment you cannot fully understand the impact of your words and deeds on the shaping of the future leaders of our nation."
The CLDA is a MCJROTC program. For more information about the MCJROTC, call the First Marine Corps District MJROTC project officer at (516) 228-5701 or visit www.tecom.usmc.mil/jrotc.