Cadets anticipate MREs for lunch during the Minnesota Wing Encampment.
Cadets perform the “belly crawl” on Camp Ripley’s confidence course.
Encampment cadets got some “trigger time” on the machine gun simulators.
Cadet Tech. Sgt. Rachel Lukkarila of the St. Cloud Composite Squadronchecks off the points on the map during a land navigation course.
Cadets and training staff are all smiles after their Chinook helicopter ride.
Photos by Maj. Richard J. Sprouse. Minnesota Wing
Maj. Richard J. Sprouse
Public Affairs Officer
MINNESOTA – The pride in their accomplishment seemed evident in the way they walked up to receive their certificates and be congratulated by their wing commander.
The 95 basic cadets were part of the 2012 Minnesota Wing Encampment, held June 23-30 at Camp Ripley, the state’s 53,000-acre training facility.
Joining the basics were 20 Staff Development Squadron cadets seeking additional training to serve as cadet training staff at a future encampment, as well as 37 cadet staff and 33 officers. With 185 total participants, it was one of the largest encampments in Minnesota Wing history.
Speaking to more than 300 family members attending the graduation ceremony was Col. Jerry Rosendahl, Minnesota Wing commander.
“I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never attended a cadet encampment; schedules and priorities always seemed to get in the way,” Rosendahl said.
He made up for the omission by having dinner the night before graduation and talking to several cadets about their experience, as well as touring the facilities. Saturday morning found him serving about 185 portions of egg bake before the graduation ceremony began.
“The graduation ceremony was obviously a tremendous experience for the cadets, but I was really impressed with the attendance of the families and friends,” Rosendahl said.
For most, the highlight of the week was Chinook helicopter rides courtesy of the Minnesota Army National Guard. The cadets were equally fired up by the M-4 rifle and machine gun simulators.
Rounding out the rest of the activities were Camp Ripley’s popular confidence course, as well as a bevy of other offerings, including volleyball competition and classes on aerospace education, cadet programs, character development, drill instruction, moral leadership, character development, drug demand reduction and U.S. Air Force commissioning routes.
For Cadet Staff Sgt. Colton Thelen of the St. Cloud Composite Squadron, encampment pushed him past self-perceived limits, leaving him with lessons he can drawn on throughout his life.
“It was such a great learning experience; it may have been tough at times, but I pushed through because I knew I had my flight members and my home squadron behind me,” Thelen said.
First Lt. Carolyn “Jake” Carlson, aerospace education officer for the nearby Crow Wing Composite Squadron, attended the graduation to support the cadets.
“When some of my ‘old fogey’ friends start complaining about ‘the kids today,’” she said, “I am always happy to say, ‘Aren't they great? Our future is in good hands.’”