By Amanda Coleman
Summer camp … a few weeks that typically involve tons of fun, activities, good food, friends and endless memories.
Advanced Camp is different. It’s 29 days of training at Fort Knox, Ky., for Army ROTC cadets. It is one of the final requirements to complete in order to be commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation.
The basic breakdown of camp is five days in the barracks, 20 days in the field, and the remaining days are spent recovering in the barracks. The ultimate challenge lies in the 20-day field cycle.
My days started before the sun came up and ended after the sun went down. On May 30, I left the barracks with a 65-pound rucksack on my back and didn’t return until June 19. During those 20 days, I was challenged, stressed, determined and full of many other mixed emotions. Overall, I was motivated to perform my best, in order to further my Army career.
Each day was a new test. One of the first events I had to pass was on the M4 shooting range. In order to pass and continue camp, I had to hit 23 out of 42 pop-up targets, which varied in distance. I love to shoot. I had a few years of experience shooting and qualifying with different weapons, so I thought easy, right? How much different can it be? I was wrong to say the least. Usually, I can qualify first try, but sleep deprivation and stress were taking their toll.
Camp was starting off tougher than I thought. Each night, I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and it was affecting my physical performance. I am a very competitive person though, so I was determined to push through each obstacle.
One of the toughest challenges I faced was the land navigation course. Kentucky forest is dense. Finding hidden points at night posed a challenging task, but it taught me to trust my knowledge in plotting points and using a compass. I was able to pass the event, finding four out of six points in the early morning hours.
As camp progressed, I kept wondering how much stress my body could actually take. I was exhausted from carrying a rucksack wherever I went for the last 20 days. Essentially, I was carrying half my body weight on my back. I weighed a mere 120 pounds. A few cadets called it quits and went home. Though I couldn’t wait to complete camp, quitting was never an option. Out of the seven females in my platoon, I was the only one able to make the standard in every event, beating out some of the males. Camp…