CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Camp Cadet at Mount Aloysius College wraps up Saturday, August 6 with graduation after the campers’ final test.
The week-long sleepaway camp introduced 12-to-15-year-old Cambria County kids to the criminal justice system and law enforcement while teaching strength, grit and determination.
The cadets passed the camp by completing an obstacle course on Friday, August 5 with different sections, including rope and pyramid climbing, balance beams, monkey bars and more.
Camp Director Eric White said the beginning of the course is meant to intimidate the new cadets. It’s designed this way to teach them to gain belief and independence throughout their experience.
“We tear them down from day one, and then we build them back up,” White said. “Everything is steps from day one, all the way through the week. And each day, they gain a little more confidence.”
Campers had one shot at each obstacle — if they fell from the monkey bars or couldn’t reach the top of the rope to ring a bell, they failed that section of the course.
But, they passed the course as long as they completed it.
Campers say the skills they learn from the course and the camp change them.
Anna Wirfel, along with fellow camper Katelyn Beyer returned to camp as Senior Campers after finishing 1st in their classes previously.
“They become a lifestyle,” Wirfel said. “That lifestyle is extremely important.”
“It’s huge whenever you have people cheering you on at the end [of the course],” Beyer said. “It gets in your head that you can do it, and then you end up motivating yourself in the end, which is the biggest motivation you can have.”
Wirfel and Beyer are only allowed to be Senior Campers once, but they said they would definitely come back if they could.
“I became a different person through this camp the first time and became a better person the second time as well,” Wirfel said. “You see the cadets completely transform from different kids throughout the week, and it’s a really impacting experience.”
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The campers also got a visit on Friday from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who brought two tranquilized bears that the campers were able to pet.