Citadel cadets receive hands-on leadership training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island

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PORT ROYAL, SC (WCSC) – Before the first light of dawn on Saturday morning, 525 Citadel cadets boarded a fleet of 11 buses and left Charleston for training that many of them did had never known.

The ultimate destination of the group: the Marine Corps recruiting depot on Parris Island. The cadets, all top class leaders, were introduced to a variety of courses ranging from team puzzles to obstacles designed to test their physical strength.

It comes as they prepare to welcome a new class of cadets to the military college next weekend.

“Part of our model of leadership development at The Citadel is that we recognize the fact that growth and comfort can never coexist, right? Said the commanding officer of the cadets, Colonel Tom Gordon. “So we wanted to take advantage of the facilities here at Parris Island, it’s a special place, to take our cadre – the leadership of the South Carolina Cadet Corps cadets who are going to train the new first year class – and bring them out.” out of their comfort zone.

Cadets only learned of the plans hours before they left.

“We’re going to expose them to some adversity and allow them to overcome that adversity,” Gordon said.

One of the cadets to take part in the exercise was the Regimental Commander, Col. Kathryn Christmas.

Christmas, the second woman in college history to serve as a regimental commander, took the Parris Island confidence course in 2019 – the only other time Citadel cadets have had the opportunity to do so. – but that didn’t mean it was easy this time around.

“So one of the first hurdles was going back to my original business and finding the camaraderie and how it would work,” she said, noting that she didn’t know many of the younger members of this company since it was not there. company since its second year. “Another would be some of the challenge courses; I didn’t do some, so they challenged me, and honestly I said, “I think I can do it,” and halfway I said, “I don’t. don’t know if I can do it ”, but I got away with it because most of my teammates were cheering me on.

The training is part of what Gordon said is his job to create principled leaders.

“What we’re looking to do is try to bridge that empathy gap if you will, we wanted to remind them what it’s like to be exposed to some adversity… and how they felt so that when the freshmen report back next Saturday, they’ll be able to empathize a bit, put themselves in their shoes, ”he said.

Noel drew parallels between the leadership training cadets took over the weekend and what new students are likely to face.

“We had a tour of the whole course, and some people might say, ‘That’s a lot. “And the freshmen too: they’ll go around the whole campus and say,” That’s a lot. So they will be overwhelmed, they will be stressed, we were stressed, we had a lack of time, ”she said.

Ultimately, Gordon said he wanted the cadets to leave Parris Island “with a little more confidence, a little more humility, a lot more empathy and a lot more resilience.”

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