Stand up and face your fears

Ariane R. Cavin

Some people have a fear of heights while others have a fear of water. ROTC knows all about both those fears.

The Army ROTC helps cadets to meet those fears face to face.

Cadre, officers who teach for the ROTC, led cadets through various physically challenging climbing and water obstacles last week and yesterday. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center provided the obstacle courses.

There are six different climbing challenges for the cadets to overcome. These obstacles include leap of faith, dangle duo, centipede, firecracker, Jacob’s ladder and a rope climb.

These essential skills may be necessary in future front-line situations while in the Army.

“The cadets have to do this before they can be in the Army,” said Lt. Col. Dean Costas, professor of military science. “They have to learn to overcome these fears.”

The leap of faith consists of cadets climbing up a wall using footholds to a wooden platform and jumping off of the platform while leaping for a bar hanging from the ceiling.

Cadets standing on the top of the platform have to have faith in their team to hold their weight as they jump. It’s not just about facing fears but also about learning to trust each other. Students have to work with one another to complete each obstacle.

A climb cadets find more difficult is the dangle duo, in which two cadets work together to make it to the top. The ROTC cadet duo has to scale an extra- large ladder-type object with each cadet moving one rung at a time.

“It takes a lot of flexibility to do these obstacles,” said Maj. Daniel Jones Sr., assistant professor of military science. “If they can do it mentally, then I can talk them through the physical part.”

ROTC cadets use these obstacles to prepare for Ranger Challenge where they will confront various physical fitness and military drills. Most of the obstacles at Ranger Challenge address cadets’ fear of heights and water, Costas said.

The climbing obstacles are similar to those in basic training, cadet Phillip P. Wilson said.

Yesterday, Army cadets took a trip to the University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium pool to take their Combat Water Survival test. ROTC cadets were instructed on how to perform various tasks while in the water.

“These are skills needed for the Army and everyday life,” Costas said. “Everyone needs to know how to swim.”

Cadets had to swim half the width of the pool while keeping an M16 rifle above the water. They also had to jump in the pool strapped with a rifle and gear and drop both items before they came to the surface.

The fear of heights reappeared in the water test when students had to jump from the high dive into the water. First, students were blindfolded and spun around. Then students were guided to the edge of the dive in order to jump into the pool.

Caleb Hopka, freshman computer science major and cadet, experienced his first water survival test yesterday.

“I was afraid to go in but happy I made it through,” he said.

One of the most important techniques taught to ROTC cadets is how to use their uniforms as a flotation device.

They are instructed to fill their pants or jackets with air in order to stay afloat while in the water.

The skills these tests provide have come in handy more than once. There are stories about a Marine who fell off an aircraft and used this technique, Costas said.

“He floated like that for six hours,” he said. “So we know it works.”

Although not all of the cadets fear heights or water, they still have to learn how to use these methods before they become commissioned officers. Cadets have all four years to pass all of the portions of the test.

“It’s all about trusting your peers,” Jones said. “If you don’t trust your peers then you can’t complete these tasks.”

Cadets had to work together in all of these situations, whether physically or just cheering each other on.

Contact ROTC reporter Ariane R. Cavin at [email protected]