Sign-ups are currently underway for this summer’s Army ROTC Basic Camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Keenan, professor of military science, said Basic Camp is intended for rising juniors and incoming graduate students. It’s also a way for students to earn commission as an Army second lieutenant in active Army, Reserves or National Guard.
Basic Camp is a 31-day training event designed to introduce cadets to the United States Army. Keenan said cadets will get hands-on experience with developing their leadership skills. He said the camp reinforces the Army values and the Warrior Ethos in a safe and fun training environment. He also mentioned Basic Camp provides the chance to exercise critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as an Army cadet.
“It is my desire for a student to have the opportunity to learn about themselves, to face new challenges, conquer a fear or two and discover Army and the great opportunities we provide for them to achieve their goals,” Keenan said. “Army ROTC is a chance to enhance their education and provide resources to enable the student to achieve their educational goals.”
The cadets go through a rigorous training, including the Army Physical Fitness Test to provide an accurate assessment of each cadet’s fitness level; Confidence Training such as rappel training, the “Slide for Life,” log walk/rope drop, and confidence and obstacle courses; Basic Rifle Marksmanship/Live Fire, which helps familiarize cadets with select US weapons, capabilities and employment techniques; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear, where cadets are trained on CBRN tasks to develop confidence in the Army’s protective mask and chemical protective clothing.
Students who successfully complete Cadet Basic Camp and receive a two-year scholarship will have the opportunity to earn a $5,000 bonus.
Cadet Keylanni Hatfield, who is a military science fourth-year student, has been enrolled in Augusta University’s ROTC program since July 2019. She has been a contracted cadet since October 2019. She’s been actively pursuing a career in the military, and is set for immediate active duty, where she will move onto her Officer Basic Course soon after graduation.
She attended Basic Camp in 2019 and knew the experience was a shortened, sped-up version of the Army’s nine-week Basic Training that enlisted soldiers go through.
“Overall, my experience at Basic Camp really helped me to succeed in being a successful ROTC cadet, especially since I came into the program as a junior,” Hatfield said. “When I first arrived at Basic Camp, I experienced a culture shock because I was so used to my civilian life, but it did not take me long to get used to the day-to-day activities.
“I also was able to network with a lot of other cadets and experience meeting people from all walks of life, which was new to me, because I have lived in Augusta, Georgia, for the majority of my life.”
Hatfield’s father was in the Army as an enlisted soldier and an officer during her early years and, along with her siblings, would go on runs early in the morning before working on chores, which she says was a way to teach initiative and leadership.
“My father also helped me train for Basic Camp by teaching me what land navigation was like, helping me work on my physical fitness, and taught me some of the basic customs and courtesies that I would learn at Basic Camp,” Hatfield said.
Graduate student Tia Pullens has been part of the ROTC program for two years and she is currently pursuing a career in the military. She also attended Basic Camp in the summer of 2019 but knew very little about it before she attended, aside from prior classroom sessions and lab trainings.
“My overall experience was fun and I learned a lot,” Pullens said. “I was very excited to go learn new things and meet new people.”
Both Pullens and Hatfield said the Basic Camp experience is worthwhile but also had some advice for potential participants.
“Have an open mind, stay positive and make the best of your time there,” Pullens said. “Basic Camp is a lot of fun, a great opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and create friendships.”
Hatfield said it’s OK to be nervous and agreed with Pullens that it’s a great chance to step outside your comfort zone.
“Before I went off to Basic Camp, I was very nervous and I have a habit of remaining in my comfort zone, but since I pushed myself to go, I have appreciated my experience and it has made my career in ROTC go smoother,” Hatfield said. “It has also exposed me to what the training is like, what being out in the field is like, and how to interact with very different people from various places around the U.S.”