Air Force ROTC makes leadership fun, cadets create new game to promote skills

Air Force ROTC cadets participated in a capture the flag event on Central Campus on March 29. While playing an altered version of the familiar game one of the teams surrounded a teammate in order to score.

Mackensie Moore

When Air Force ROTC cadets went to their required leadership laboratory activity on March 29, they did not know what to expect, especially not capture the flag in the style of the Hunger Games.

As a part of the Air Force ROTC program, there are weekly-required leadership laboratories. Typically these labs are about marching, inspections or various training measures for cadets.

“[Leadership labs] basically just teach them about the military in general, teach them discipline and teach them about the air force in general,” said cadet Kevin Mazurowski, senior in supply chain management and the Air Force ROTC cadet commander.

But occasionally, about once or twice a semester, their leadership labs will be a fun activity that requires teamwork while still challenging the cadets.

“Because our leadership labs aren’t always activities, we try to throw in games like [capture the flag] to make things more fun,” Mazurowski said.

Cadet Ross Droppert, senior in aerospace engineering, was the organizer and creator for the event. While brainstorming ideas for the leadership lab, he said he decided to use Hunger Games after seeing the movie because it would be a good way to keep the cadets in one area.

“I saw Hunger Games and thought, ‘Hey, that’d be kind of fun to incorporate,’” Droppert said.

After months of planning, the day for the event finally arrived.

With around 400 yards of string and 30 cones the playing field was created. Divided into six “districts,” each had it’s own flag zone with a neutral circle in the center for all “districts.”

“We tried to make the course as big as we could without taking up too much of central campus,” Mazurowski said.

Approximately 80 cadets participated and were divided into six “districts” of 13 to 14 cadets.

The rules created said that cadets were safe in their own “district” but if they crossed into a different “district” than they could be “killed” by being tagged. If a cadet was “killed” then their punishment was a workout: jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, etc.

While not many cadets knew that the activity would be capture the flag, even fewer knew that it would be Hunger Games themed.

“When they said it was going to be Hunger Games, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Cadet Christina Kindle, freshman in chemistry.

It was exactly what Droppert said he wanted. With a total of four different game types, the rules changed each round to keep cadets on their toes.

The first game type was regular capture the flag and the second type was domination, where “districts” gained the other “district’s” territory when they captured their flag.

The third game type was king of the hill, which involved only one flag and the team that held the flag the longest won. And the fourth set of games brought in zombies — where anyone tagged became a zombie, continuing until there was only one man standing.

There was time set up after each game for “districts” to come together and talk about the previous game, decide ways they could do better and make a plan of action for the next game.

Major James Stephens, adjunct assistant professor of air force aerospace studies, supervised the event and said that the exercise was mainly to train cadets how to react to problems. 

“Whoever is in charge has to make quick decisions, analyze the problem, get input and decide on the best choice,” Stephens said. “They all have to come together to solve that particular problem.”

After the event, cadets said they walked away with better relationships and better decision-making skills.

“The activity was really fun and it was a really great way to see what everyone could do put together as a team,” Kindle said.