Many high school students join the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program as a way to decide if they want to later enlist in the military. But for some, it’s a way to build confidence before heading to college and the workplace.

JROTC cadets from East High School spent the day on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, learning military and life skills.

Their first task was using a map and compass to navigate. Orienteering skills are rare, as many now rely on a GPS to find their way around.

East High senior Tanner Welch said it’s an important skill to have.

“People go camping or hunting all the time, especially here in Alaska, so that’s a pretty good thing to know, especially when your GPS battery may run out,” said Welch.

The cadets then learned to rappel, starting first on the ground, then down a slanted wall and finally down a 58-foot tower. Rappel master Sgt. Dustin Parlier said it can be intimidating at first, but he encourages the students to overcome their fear and gain confidence.

“It teaches them to trust their equipment. It teaches them to be confident in their instructors. It sets them up for leadership and that way down the road, they can be confident teaching things and pushing forward with what they’re doing,” said Parlier.

Welch plans to enter the military after high school. He said JROTC is giving him the skills to stand out and do well once he’s there. He said those who aren’t planning to enlist are still learning a lot.

“You learn leadership, you learn how to carry a team and stuff like that so then when you get to that workplace, you’re less worried, you can focus, you can react better to situations,” said Welch.

KTVA 11’s Bonney Bowman can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter