Getting settled into my new job at Gonzaga has been anything but dull! The past few weeks have kept me busy planning the Ranger Challenge for the area’s ROTC schools. Gonzaga’s ROTC team won this coveted prize, adding another win to their 19th award in 20 years. Having planned the event, it was even more gratifying for my school to finish first. Ranger Challenge included 11 schools competing in different physical and mental events, all with the hopes of being invited to to the United States Military Academy (USMA) in the spring time to compete against USMA, Sandhurst, USNA, USAFA, and many other ROTC schools.

The planning and coordinating of this event had its challenges as well as rewards. I met weekly with all of the schools’ Cadre to plan the events and give the coordinating instructions. We had to house 250 people, feed 250 people 5 meals, get latrines for 250 people, hand washing stations for 250 people, plan the set up of 3 tents to ensure we had great meeting areas, house women and men in different tents, plan how each site would be ran, graded, and timed, plan the locations of every event, ensure each event site was manned with the proper number of Cadre and Cadets, ensure the grading was done properly, ensure set-up and tear-down, coordinate shower stations, plan all travel plans for all teams once they have arrived at Gonzaga, and have fun. It was a very stressful job and I think I gained 10 more grey hairs. With the great assistance from my peers, I certainly learned a lot about communicating and grew as a manager.

Now, what is the Ranger Challenge exactly?! Here’s a look at Army games at their best!

Each school is allowed to bring a team of 9 people (one female and all four grades must be represented). Once each school arrived on Friday afternoon we had a meeting with all the team Captains and lead Cadre members to go over the competition and pick the start time of each school. The first team started at 7:00 am and the last team started at 10:40 am with 20 minute intervals between each school.

The competition was at Camp 7 Mile, 10 miles away from Gonzaga. Our competition began with the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). This test starts with 2 minutes of sit-ups followed by a 10 minute rest, then 2 minutes of pushups then a 10 minute rest, finally a 2 mile run. The test is graded on age group and sex. An example being, for me at my age group I would have to do 78 pushups, 82 sit-ups, and run the 2 miles in 13:13. Let me just say…pretty tough.

The students then had 20 minutes to put their boots on, place their 45 pound ruck on their backs and get to the 10k start line. At the 20 minute mark the stop watch would begin for the team. They move out looking for situational awareness sites throughout the 10k. After about 1.5 miles they begin 1 rope bridge crossing site. The goal here is to get all personnel and equipment across a rope from one tree to another without touching the ground in between the trees. Gonzaga won this competition in just over 5 minutes. The teams then ruck up and continue the 10k. After several more miles and paying attention to situational awareness sites they enter the first aid site. Here they must evaluate a casualty properly and then evacuate the casualty to a landing zone. Once at the landing zone they have to call up a 9 line medivac, a system the Army uses to get casualties out of the fight. Once this is complete, all graded the team stays rucked up and moves out on 10k. After about a mile they hit a map reading site where they have to take a 10 question map reading test. This test ensures that each student understand how to read a map, use a protractor, compass, and be able to convert between lensatic and magnetic angles. Surprisingly a very difficult test. Once they have completed the test, 20 minutes max time, they move out on the 10k. After about a .5 miles they come to a Field Leadership Reaction Course (FLRC). Because of my inability to plan and not have the necessary equipment to build a proper course, the school running the site made land mine, fake, site and made the students take 2 large tires, 2 full water cans, 2 full Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) boxes across the mine field and back in the shortest amount of time. Once the students finished this course they continued on the 10k. After about a mile or so they reach the land navigation site. At this site each team was broken into 3 teams of 3 and told to find 3 points each. The teams had 1 hour to find the points and get back to the start line of the land navigation site. Once the teams finished this site they, again, placed their ruck sacks on their backs and moved out to the finish line of the 10k. As the team finished the 10k hard, the team is quickly pushed to a weapons dis-assembly and assembly site. At this site they are all timed on their ability to take apart a M-16 A2 rifle and properly put it back together. After this site the team is told to go to the situational awareness site and point out on a sand table, an actual replica map of the training area with grid coordinates, event sites, and terrain relief. Once the team captain did or did not locate all of the sites, graded, the team is pushed over to the Commander’s Challenge site. At this site, the team is told to put together a 100 piece puzzle. It was funny, the school that brought the puzzle picked a picture of a Ferry on a leaf. The students all laughed. After this event, graded by time, the team is pushed to the last site–equipment check. At this site all teams unload their ruck sacks and get all of their equipment checked. Gonzaga failed this because their team shirt wasn’t Army issued. Drats! Lucky for them, it didn’t cost them the competition.

After this last event the team was complete with Ranger Challenge.

Well, now that is our version of Ranger Challenge. Great job Gonzaga! Keep motivating me!

Who or what motivates you?

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