While many students were enjoying the last few days of summer vacation by filling their time with video games or social networking, the students of Yosemite High School's battalion of California Cadet Corps were rising before dawn for a round of vigorous exercise.
Before the start of school, the cadets were participating in advanced training for potential Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) at the Lions Club's Camp Pacifica in Ahwahnee.
The encampment was physically and mentally demanding, and members of the Cadet Corps eagerly accepted the challenges.
Under the leadership of Capt. Ellen Peterson, and Cadet 1 Williams, the cadets' daily activities included physical fitness training, military drills, and classroom lectures. They studied such diverse subjects as military customs and courtesies, nutrition, first aid, land navigation, leadership, and map reading.
Additionally, there were special events to further test the cadet's strength, agility, and endurance, including everyone's favorite the mud run. Gathering at the camp's lake, the students carried practice rifles over their heads as they did a variety of exercises in waist deep mud. For encouragement, Williams joined his troop in the mud.
"It was really awesome that Lt. Williams got down in the dirt with us," said Russ Warmderdam, a sophomore at YHS.
"It took us out of our comfort zones and made us work as a team to keep each other moving," said Steven Foster, an junior at Yosemite. "It was personally and physically challenging."
"I loved being in the mud," said smiling senior Alexandria Herdman.
Another activity which the cadets were particularly enthusiastic about were the night operations. Rising from a sound sleep to go outside and exercise in the darkness may not sound fun to most teenagers, but the cadets eagerly embraced it.
"The night operations motivated me and got me ready for the next day," said senior Nathanial Schlepp. "It was a lot of fun."
YHS junior Jacob Champion said, "It made me appreciate what the troops go through in real-life night operations the experience was hard but excellent."
"Teamwork was emphasized throughout the weekend course," said Peterson. "Our cadets willingly helped each other recognize their strengths and overcome obstacles."
"I liked how we came together as a team," said Ryan Diehl. " We helped each other and cared about each other we didn't leave anyone behind."
"By challenging themselves to complete this course of training, the cadets gained knowledge, skills, leadership, and self-confidence that will help them in high school and long after graduation," Peterson said.
Senior Arvin Krause summed up the course by saying, "It was exhausting, but fun. I'll never forget it.