After months of planning and preparation, 58 Coast Guard JROTC cadets and 12 instructors and chaperones gathered at Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City from June 11-17 to participate in the first-ever Coast Guard Junior Leadership Academy (JLA).
Coast Guard JROTC (CGJROTC) is a youth outreach program whose mission is “developing service-minded citizens of character.” Cadets from all six CGJROTC units, spanning from Miami, Florida to Southern Delaware, left the comforts of home to embrace an action-packed week filled with physical training, military drill, air rifle, low/high ropes, uniform and room inspections, and leadership labs. The week culminated with an interactive visit to the historic U.S. Life Saving Station Chicamacomico on the Outer Banks, where cadets took turns “rescuing” each other using legacy equipment from the 1874 station.
“I am impressed by our cadets’ willingness to accept the challenges presented by the JLA and the level of self-discipline that they demonstrated in order to meet those challenges,” said retired Capt. Joe Solomon, Senior Maritime Science Instructor at Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina.
JLA’s cadet-led, instructor-coached model afforded 17 upperclassmen the opportunity to hone and exercise their leadership voice as cadre. The 41 “basic” cadets were organized into three platoons and quickly realized that teamwork would be the key to a successful experience.
“The skills accelerated in an opportunity like this pay huge dividends as cadets return to their units this fall as more confident and capable leaders,” said Cmdr. Clay Cromer, CGJROTC program manager. “We’re all amazed at the positive change and achievement realized by so many cadets this week.”
JLA also marked the first time all six JROTC units assembled in one place. “Having every unit represented not only allows us to strengthen our program identity, policies and standards, but the cadets and instructors alike enjoyed building new relationships, and that makes us stronger,” said Cromer. “Two major ingredients in our success this year were the generous hospitality of Base Elizabeth City and the leadership of local Camden County High School CGJROTC Instructor Master Chief Lyn Dupree, a seven-year veteran instructor.”
Growth in 2023 … and beyond
While Coast Guard cadets have attended JROTC leadership camps sponsored by the Air Force, the vision and desire has been growing for the Coast Guard to offer its own academy. “As we weighed the cost of sending Coast Guard cadets to other academies versus starting our own, it became clear that this was our breakout year,” said Cromer.
In addition to creating its own JLA, CGJROTC is expanding to 10 total schools in August, adding four additional units in Clinton, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; San Diego, California; and Chicago, Illinois. As mandated by H.R. 7776 - James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, the Coast Guard must establish a JROTC unit in every Coast Guard district by 2025. The JROTC program is currently seeking host schools, especially from high schools in First Coast Guard District, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, Fourteenth Coast Guard District, and Seventeenth Coast Guard District.
“We’re poised for smart program growth. Effective engagement with Coast Guard field units is key to continued success and sustainability — not only in helping to identify viable candidate schools but also for providing mentorship and operationalizing the JROTC curriculum,” said Cmdr. Mike Wolfe, chief of external outreach at CG headquarters.
To learn more about Coast Guard JROTC, or to access a host school application, visit the Coast Guard JROTC site.
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