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NEWS | July 26, 2022

Fort Eustis holds inaugural summer camp

By Abraham Essenmacher 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) hosted an inaugural Fort Eustis Summer Camp at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., providing Newport News high school students a unique experience while also investing within the community.

The event took place July 18-21, and included 94 students from six different high schools.

Soldiers assigned to Fort Eustis volunteered to serve as coaches to the students throughout the four-day program, which provided academic challenges where students learned about U.S. Army history, types of equipment Soldiers routinely use, and engaged in interactive tours inside simulators and operational vehicles. The teens also had physical challenges each day, including a golf event, watercraft challenge, flag football, and gel ball competition.

“We do national-level events across the Army for recruiting, accession, and training, and we saw that we have a great opening here to reach out to the local community and this has truly been a great opportunity to get them engaged both mentally and physically,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, TRADOC command Sgt. Maj. “Then they also got to meet individuals that they never knew, Soldiers who volunteered to be their coaches, and give these kids an outlet while directly connecting Americans to their Army.”

The Soldiers who served as coaches came from various parts of the Fort Eustis installation, with their own unique backgrounds and contributions to the summer camp effort. One of these Soldiers was Staff Sgt. Cheylese Dross, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion 210.

“I haven’t really interacted with this age group in a while, so seeing the new generation and how they learn, and how tech savvy they already are at this age has been very intriguing and really enlightening,” says Dross. “I hope these students walk away with a different outlook about the military, and see different aspects of our daily routine, so they’ll gain a better perspective and understand our lifestyle. I also hope that they have fun while they’re here.

Students took the chance to further their own growth during different challenges.

“I’ve learned a lot about leadership and representing our groups, and helping ourselves to be better which we’ve seen from our Army coaches and this helps me in my future decisions about careers after high school.” said Taniya Pope, a 12th grader from Warwick High School. “I hope the other students also see that it’s not just about the money or physical training, but also the connections with them as people.”

“TRADOC leadership has been real interested in our Army reaching into the community and reintegrate the American people with their Army because that’s what we are,” said Sgt. Maj. Allen Watts, TRADOC Enlisted Initiative Group. “So we reached out to the Newport News school district and we began developing this event where we can show the youth and their families that we’re not just a one dimensional organization but real people with unique jobs.”

On the final day of the summer camp, students assembled into different teams for the TRADOC command sergeant major-hosted ‘This is My Squad’ challenge, involving a culmination of mental tests and physical challenges at four different stations. The students utilized teamwork to memorize answers to specific questions, correctly align puzzles, carry sandbags, simulate stretcher carrying, perform both Burpee and plank exercises, all of which was a timed evolution.

The camp ended with a cookout where parents were able to join up with their kids where they had lunch, where Brig. Gen. Richard Harrison, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, presented awards to top performers.