Being in the military is a respected career. Joining is a big decision that comes with a lot of deliberation. The military life isn’t for everyone. So, how can someone know if it’s what they want to do? There is a way to “try out” the army life without having to sign on the dotted line. It’s called ROTC.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps is a way for young adults in college to experience the army without signing a contract.

“Typically, around their sophomore year or junior year is when we really kind of push paper work,” Captain Cory Chatigny, the Officer in Charge of the BYU-Idaho ROTC program said. “It is just an elective so anyone can sign up for the program.”

Therefore, for the first two years of college, students can participate in the program which includes physical training (or PT) in the mornings, Field Training Exercises (or FTX) each semester, weekly lectures and labs.

PT is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the early mornings.

“Honestly? I really like getting up in the morning and working out. I don’t know if you’ll find other people who say that,” laughed freshman cadet Bailey Walker. “Before most people are awake I’ve already done an hour of hard work. It gives me self-confidence.”

The Field Training Exercise each semester is the culmination of all the labs and physical fitness preparation. These trainings happen during the fall and winter semesters. The FTX consists of several days of army-style camping. Cadets will learn how to defend, attack, and navigate in the wilderness often with opposition from older cadets playing the “enemy” and the cold weather.

During the winter, BYU-Idaho cadets join with the other ROTC programs in Idaho for the training. Boise, Northwest Nazarene and Idaho State University all have their own ROTC programs. BYU-Idaho has the biggest out of all four with just over 100 cadets this year.

When cadets reach their junior year they also attend Advanced Camp during the summer. This is also referred to as officer qualification camp and happens in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It lasts just about a month and a half.

Rest assured, there is plenty of crawling around in the dirt and playing soldier to satisfy anyone with “hooah” in their system. But, preparing for military life isn’t the only skill set ROTC instills in its cadets.

“They advertise it as teaching you leadership and it’s actually 100% true,” said MS4 Austin Silva. “There’s a lot of things I’ve learned through the ROTC that I use in other classes. Situations where I know how to react in a leadership position, I know how to delegate. It teaches me a lot of useful things that I use in other jobs daily.”

Whether or not a cadet chooses to sign a contract their junior year, they will be able to carry the lessons and skills they learn with them for the rest of their lives.

Junior cadet Alisha Andersen said, “Everything that they’re teaching in the military, how to be a leader, how to be loyal, how to be dedicated, is stuff I want to bring to my future family.”