Our annual summer camp is the first major event of the school year, held near Gun Sight Mountain. At summer camp, cadets learn the basics to surviving in the wilderness, basic drill, orienteering, and so much more. The cadets stay in tents with two cadets per tent. This six day course is loads of fun and adventure for both new and old high school students that are enrolled in the AF JROTC program.
Winter Survival is a two day intensive course designed to teach cadets about survival skills needed to survive the cold environment of Alaska. Participating cadets are expected to march several miles to reach the campground where they will build the shelter that they will sleep in. This course focuses on teamwork as participating cadets are required to build their shelter with another cadet from Eagle River High School AF JROTC. Winter survival is a fun, yet challenging activity that many cadets can enjoy.
Due to the number of activities our Corps participates in, we are constantly doing fundraisers. Our first fundraiser each year is selling Car Wash tickets for our Saturday car washes. They are five dollars apiece and the cadets are given a prize for selling the most. We have the best car wash in town! We also do a lot of coat checks for various organizations throughout the year and we are always looking for new opportunities to fundraise.
The first dance of the school year for our Corps is the Holiday Reception. It is an opportunity for the cadets to meet the Senior Staff, Flight Commanders, and the Division Chiefs. Last year, it was held at the restaurant La Cabana. There was dancing, food, and Santa was there to hand out presents. Also, the cadets were awarded with superlatives such as Best Attitudes, Best Friends, Best Eyes, etc. This is always a lot of fun for the cadets as well as the chaperones that are present.
This is our second dance of the year and all the JROTCs in the local area attend. The Sweetheart and Cavalier are crowned, as well as the Princess and her Prince. Everyone has a chance to dress up and meet cadets from other Corps. Imitating prom, the event is usually accompanied by limousines, bare shoulders, and a lot of sore feet. Last year, the event was held at the Captain Cook Hotel.
This is one of the last multi-school events of the year. Nearly 600 cadets and guests fill the Egan Center for a chance to participate in the customs and courtesies of the military mess. There is a "Flags over Alaska" and a POW/MIA ceremony at the beginning, then dinner, and finally the cadets receive National, State and Local Unit awards as well as medals. Last year the guest speaker was a Three Star General. Award categories range from academics to leadership, as well as dedication and military bearing. The event is always amazing to watch, and is different in some way every year. West Highs AK-033 has had the honor of hosting this event for the past 16 years in a row. It is a local event that has been held for the past 40 years. It is nearly as old as AK-033 itself.
Our first Color Guard of the year is at the Homecoming football game, for which our cadets also provide a saber arch for the homecoming court. We do color guards for all home basketball games. We also provide the colors for many local organizations throughout the year. Our corps average about 70-80 color guards per year.
In addition to the color guards, we lend a hand to our school by setting up rooms for events such as registration, SATs, and PSATs, ASVAB testing, parents night, cafeteria for riflery, and anything else where our help is requested by the faculty. We provide a large amount of support for Graduation.
Our competition drill team competes in local drill meets during the drill season. With a lot of hard, early morning practices, the teams are able to win trophies in these events. During 2006, a group of 22 cadets went down to Daytona, Florida for the National High School Drill Team Competition. Our exhibition team did a 7 minute, unarmed, blindfolded routine that was a crowd pleaser! We came back as national champions, with two first place trophies in Color Guard and Exhibition, as well as getting a sixth in Unarmed Regulation, and fourteenth in Inspection. One cadet earned a scholarship from Texas A&M, and another cadet who won second in a mass formation unarmed knock out drill.
Not nearl as big as the Dining Out, the Awards Banquet is our Corps personal awards ceremony. Cadets are awarded ribbons such as superior performance, academics, and achievement. The hardest award to receive is the West H.S. JROTC letter, for which cadets have to do many flag raisings, have no unexcused absences, wear the uniform each week, and earn 2000 letter points based on participation in Corps events. This event is a lot of fun for the cadets because it offers a chance for the corps to relax and receive accolades for the year of hard work.