A Military-Themed Camp for Boys and Girls ages 13 - 18
Last summer I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Extreme Military Challenge! (XMC), a military-themed summer camp in Alabama for boys and girls ages 13 - 18. The camp simulates a two week Basic Training, which is the first step for all of their recruits. Upon graduation, recruits earn the coveted title of Cadet. Cadets are then offered additional courses such as the Field Leader Course, Scuba School, Combat Engineering, Aviation, and the very difficult Cadet Ranger School.
XMC, located in Battleground, Alabama, is a summer camp and has no military requirement.
"Smells like Motivation"
There are several "military-themed" summer camps, and most are for children who need to be set in the right direction. XMC is NOT that kind of camp and does not accept those kind of campers. XMC Challengers are motivated individuals who are interested in exploring a military career or just having a challenging summer. Many who I spoke with were in JROTC or other cadet programs at home, but for many this was their first experience with military style training.
A female cadet shows off the boxing gloves her self defense instructor had just awarded her at the closing ceremonies.
Let me say that I was very impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of the instructors, but I was even more impressed by the cadets. They were all so excited to tell me about all they had accomplished over the summer and show off many of the things they had learned.
"Hardcore or Out the Door"
Finishing up the run at the end of Basic Training. Mud, high-fives and smiles all around.
Practicing grappling techniques, which is a real confidence builder.
On the last day of Basic Training, new cadets have to run "the Gauntlet", which is a campwide activity that encompasses every obstacle and seems to only go uphill. They rappel down the tower, shimmy up the climbing ropes, crawl under wire (in the mud), balance and thread themselves through the obstacles; all the while shouting encouragements and helping each other. Seeing such teamwork on display really shows off the focus on the whole group learning to work as one. It is even more impressive when you think that these kids really just met each other a few short weeks ago.
The most hardcore cadets go through two sessions of Ranger Training. The Rangers have their own base at XMC and are considered the most elite cadets. This group was completing the second session and was no longer living the good life of bunk beds and showers, or even tents, instead living outdoors and learning more advanced techniques. They were carrying airsoft rifles for more realistic training.
Captain Land (XMC), the Company Commander, about to conduct an "Air Raid" drill during the Challengers Feast. Many of the cadets' families came together to hold this giant cookout for their camper.
Battle Buddies helping each other complete the climbing ropes.
Muddy from running the obstacle course, two cadets enjoy their first soda in weeks.
One of the two barracks on Post.
The Advanced Rangers learning immobilization techniques.
Chow was fast and good. It was nothing fancy but there was a lot of it.
Pass in Review after the Gauntlet while parents look on.
A cadet demonstrating the Australian rappel, where going down upside down is the proper method.
Colonel Joseph Land (XMC) addressing the troops.
"Ears? Open Sir!"
Many (not all) XMC Cadets are focused on a military career, either through enlisting or commissioning via a college ROTC program. A former XMC Cadet, now a Specialist in the United States Army, shared this recently on the XMC Facebook Page
"Sir, I just wanted to say Thank You for what you do for Cadets.
I earned the title 'Cadet' when I was 17. Back then I had no idea what it would do for me personally and professionally, but I wanted a career in the military. I didn't know anything about the military or if I could even make it through basic training.
I found the program online, as most do, and quickly signed up for a few courses. I will never forget my first summer with the program. It was the hardest test of mental and physical endurance I have ever gone through. I made memories and friends that have stayed with me to this day.
That summer I learned more about myself and the military than I ever did at home, school, or watching YouTube videos. But less apparent at the time were the values and discipline the program instilled in me.
I continued to attend various courses the program offered until I was 18. When I was 19, I enlisted in the United States Army as a 11X. I was nervous as I entered Basic Training but discovered that what I learned as a Cadet, made Basic Training easy compared to that first summer.
I quickly realized what the program had honestly done for me. It gave me the discipline, physical strength, and most importantly an unrelenting mental toughness that was far ahead of my peer group.
Now I am 23, and after a little over three years in the Army and two deployments. I can safely say, that I can thank my time as a Cadet for my continued success in the military and life. I wouldn't have done it any other way."