The U.S. Army Challenge gave students at Austin a chance to bond over pushups, burpees and obstacle courses while testing their mental and physical prowess.
Hundreds of students formed teams of four to take on the challenge at the school’s gym. They competed for bragging rights and some Army swag.
The challenge began with a fitness relay where each of the four-member took on 10 pushups, 10 sit ups, five burpees and 10 jumping jacks before heading off to more tactical challenges.
“They have to have some type of plan or objective to figure out how they’re going to accomplish their mission for that particular task,” said Anthony Dinkins, JROTC senior army instructor, who was instrumental in bringing the program to Austin.
“They will pick whoever is the best commander to lead them through a particular exercise based on the team members that they have and they decide how they want to attack obstacles.”
At the Strategy Tower, the students used their critical thinking skills to strategically maneuver pieces of the Lucas Tower-like puzzle before running to the Extraction challenge. This final challenge took kids through a series of rope obstacles, testing their teamwork, leadership and physical fitness skills. The goal was to complete all three stations in fewer than 90 seconds.
“It’s been an overall good learning experience,” senior Alexander Rice said. “You learn meet people in your class and you learn how to work together, how to use proper teamwork to complete your mission.”
Rice and junior Taylor Wood teamed up with students they didn’t know to complete the obstacles. After the first round through, they became more strategic and assigned tasks based on the strengths they saw on their team in the initial round.
“I really appreciate them coming out here and letting all the students do it,” she said. “It’s a lot of good experience because you get to learn teamwork and commitment and confidence. It really builds up their confidence and it makes them know, hey, I can actually do this or I’m not really good but maybe I can improve on this.”
The challenge also brought in recruiters from the army and university ROTC programs, Wood liked the fact that it united both Austin’s JROTC cadets with other students.
“I really appreciate them coming out here,” Wood said. “I hope the continue to do this and for other schools, too.”
Other obstacles the students took on included the Victory Wall, which required teams to figure the bet way to move across the wall using hand pegs and foot holds to get from one side to the other. Each of the pegs touched by team members get removed as they go across – further requiring some though and strategy. The students tested their upper body strength at the pull up bar.
“I honestly liked was that you were just put onto a random team,” said Wood, JROTC battalion commander at Austin. “You didn’t choose your best friends or your friends. You were just throw in it and you met and you’re just like, okay, ‘I’m good at pushups or I’m good at sit ups or I’m really good at burpees.’ It was a lot of fun because we got to bond and figure out who this person was and what their strengths and weaknesses were. It was a true bonding experience.”
The competition was held on Tuesday, October 9.