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Cadets Training at Camp Williams

Cadets Training at Camp Williams

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Jed Boal ReportingIf you enlist in the military today, there's a good chance you'll deploy before you're done serving. At Camp Williams this week more than 200 high school students from Utah and Idaho are learning more about that military path and more about themselves.

While military recruiting is sluggish across the country, these young Utahns are eager to find out for themselves if they can answer the call.

Maygen Charles, JROTC Cadet, West H.S. Salt Lake: "We're all American, we gotta pitch in somehow."

This is leadership camp for the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps.

James Hoppe, JROTC Cadet, Independence H.S. Provo: "It's important to me because it helps build my character."

The cadets will expand their comfort zones and see if the military is right for them, before they are even old enough to enlist.

James Hoppe: "It's fun. You gotta open up and give it your all and you get that much in return."

Alfredo Caballero just graduated from Ogden High School. He enlisted in the Air Force and heads off for basic training August 1st. Caballero was born in Mexico and pursues a military career for one primary reason.

Alfredo Caballero, JROTC Cadet: "Patriotism, I want to give back everything this country has given to me."

Like other cadets he had just started high school when terrorists attacked the US on September 11th, 2001.

Alfredo Caballero: "We can't take anything for granted. Somebody has to defend this country. I need to step up and help out with everyone else that is doing it."

About half of the students who stick with the program until they graduate end up choosing a path in the military. But the leaders and the cadets agree that this is a worthwhile program no matter what the cadets decide to do.

Lt. Col. Don Hall (Ret), JROTC Training Officer: "We feel like even if they never join the military, what they gain out of ROTC will be of value to them."

James Hoppe: "You're more confident among your peers, you can try things you haven't tried before. It makes you a better person overall, I feel."

While there's no commitment on the line, many consider the sobering reality of combat.

Maygen Charles: "It will give you a chance to prove yourself, show 'em what you got and defend your country."

Even if their peers do not understand.

James Hoppe: "They think I'm crazy, but I think America's worth fighting for."

While the cadets train at Camp Williams they stay in army barracks and eat MRE's, or Meals Ready to Eat. The cadets tell us they like the military rations, even if long-time soldiers tend to grumble about the grub.

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