Students representing 27 high schools and several colleges throughout Texas have spent this week at Howard Payne University, participating in the annual Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) camp.

The camp, known as the Cadet Command and Staff School, which was established in Brownwood in 1994 and at Howard Payne since 1997, is primarily structured for Air Force JROTC units. Among the Air Force cadets are a few Army cadets from the Colony in the Metroplex.

Students are under the direct command of instructors ranging from retired airmen and officers to college level ROTC students. The college cadets travel from different universities, including University of North Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Angelo State University and Texas Christian University.

Bringing college-level ROTC students is a “win-win” situation, said retired Col. Al Dunlap, senior aerospace science instructor at Abilene High School.

“All of the college cadets are distinguished graduates from the CCSS,” Dunlap said. “That gives the high school cadets the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the college cadets. And for the college cadets, they gain further experience as leaders.”

At the high school level, students are taught customs and courtesies, as well as courses which are given to service members during basic training, to help the cadets prepare for a possible future in the armed forces. Some areas covered include time management, attitude, ethics, delegation, personal character, academic achievement and physical fitness.

“The purpose of the camp is to teach the cadets aspects of citizenship and leadership in an instructional environment and promote that citizenship by preparing cadets for leadership roles in their units, schools and local communities,” Dunlap said.

To cap off the week, the cadets, after a week of practice, showcase drill and ceremony skills by conducting a pass in review for veterans, family and friends.

“They start on day one practicing for the pass in review,” Dunlap said. “And it continues throughout the week.”

Cadets who excel during the week are presented team and individual awards for drill and ceremony, physical fitness and uniform and room inspections.

CCSS started in 1995 by Col. John Wright, senior aerospace science instructor at Cooper High School in Abilene. The top 200 JROTC cadets from 27 high schools are invited to attend the camp.