Boy Scouts learn winter survival techniques from Army ROTC cadets

A Boy Scout grabs a jacket from a bucket of clothing during an activity conducted by the ISU Army ROTC staff at the 30th Winter Survival Training event held in the Armory on Jan. 28.

Tristan Wade

Nearly 300 Boy Scouts, ranging in ages from 10 to 18, packed the Armory at Iowa State Saturday morning as they awaited to learn winter survival techniques from Army ROTC cadets.

The scouts participated in six different stations, learning all they could about how to survive in case they ever find themselves in winter conditions.

Three stations were set up inside, and three outside, with an Iowa State cadet leading each one, Lt. Col. Ethan Dial explained. The three inside were land navigation, first aid and hygiene and energy conservation. The three outside focused on shelter, food and water procuration and fire.

“Our intent was to meet with Boy Scouts from all over Iowa and train them on winter and wilderness survival tactics and introduce them to Iowa State and ROTC,” said Matt Kelly, Army cadet. Kelly was the cadet who oversaw the event.

Kelly was an Eagle Scout and participated in the same event at Iowa State a few years ago. His exposure to the college and ROTC had an impact on his decisions to be where he is now, and he hoped some scouts reaped the same benefits.

The training event served as a learning experience for the cadets involved as well.

“It is a 100 percent cadet-led event,” Dial said. “[Cadets] treat it like a military operation, the same principles apply.”

Cadets are able to use the experience as an application of the leadership skills they are taught every day. For some, it is one of the first times they are able to use those skills in the real world.

“As a sophomore, I haven’t got a lot of opportunities for leadership positions, so just being in front and having to delegate, it built my confidence a lot,” said Amanda Pennock, the cadet who led the hygiene and energy conservation class.

As the cadet in charge, Kelly was able to try and shape the training event’s mission through talking to the cadets who were helping out. Kelly said one of his biggest goals for the day was to “be more than just a class.” He wanted the cadets to engage with the scouts and connect on a personal level.

Pennock made sure to do this in her class. She engaged with the scouts, “got to know who they were” and connected with the parents who were there with their kids. 

Because many of the cadets have scout experience, there was a greater interest in the event. Kelly said that including himself, there are 24 cadets in his class alone who had scout experience.

The scouts learned multiple survival techniques, and they were introduced to Iowa State and the cadets in the Army ROTC program. The cadets took away real-life applications of the skills they learned.

“Giving the cadets an opportunity, not only to lead, but an opportunity to learn, it really helped build them as cadets in this program,” Kelly said.