The typical high school post-weekend conversation:
Kid 1: Hey bro, what’s up?
Kid 2: Nada, just chillin’. You?
Kid 1: Same-o, same-o. Hey, what’d you do this weekend, man?
Kid 2: You really wanna know?
0445: I’m asleep on my itchy, polyester, Army-issue mattress that faintly smells of mayonnaise for no good reason, dreaming of me and a well tanned Pamela Anderson re-enacting some scenes too spicy for Baywatch Nights. I roll over and hit something warm and meaty and figure ‘this is it, Tommy Lee’s got me, I’m screwed.’ I look up a see a blurry outline of a head that quickly comes into focus as my Raider team captain, Joe, looming over me with one mighty arm resting across my throat in a ‘motivational’ headlock. Damn, reveille already.
0600: ‘The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is designed to measure your body’s strengths and assess it’s weaknesses in three vital areas, upper body pushing strength, abdominal strength, and cardiovascular endurance.’ For those of you who haven’t been privileged enough to take an APFT, it goes like this: the subject solider, or in this case Raider, first assumes the front-leaning-rest (push-up) position. We train to win, and in this event that means completing the maximum number of repetitions of each exercise in the allotted two minutes, for push-ups that magic number is 71. Sit-ups, the next exercise, are a slightly higher 78. 71 push-ups, 78 sit-up, each in two minutes, not too rough, especially if you’re a hyperactive little high schooler, right? Do ‘em with a Special Forces Drill Sergeant (read that as dangerously hardcore motha’) grading you and tell me how easy it is. The cardio portion of this joyous little event is a two mile run. In 12:30 to earn a maximum score. Fun times.
0800: A quick breakfast later our nine man Raider team is at our second event of the day, the written exam. Thirty questions per each three man squad for a total score of ninety, each team has thirty-minutes to complete the test. Questions include everything from ‘Who is the Commander in Chief: A. A large, hairy baboon B. G. Dubba-u Bush C. All of the above’ to ‘If you find a fellow Raider unconscious in the woods what do you do: A. Run his pockets B. Call for help C. Laugh.’
1000: Up next, the land navigation portion of Raider Challenge. Land nav, for those who don’t know, is a timed race through the woods; you are in the same 3 man teams as the test, one man is the compass man, the other two are point men. The compass man directs the first point man out along the given direction or azimuth, runs to catch up with him while the second point man is running ahead of both of them, the compass man directs the second point man this time, and repeats this ‘leap-frog’ process with the first point man until the next point is reached. There are four points on the course, each around 200 meters from the last, through woods where visibility never exceeded 10 meters. The record, set by my team, was 12 minutes in the woods, all four points found, our closest competition a distant 3 minutes behind.
1300: The one-rope bridge is, for lack of better adjectives, a bitch. It involves everything that the name implies, one-rope, a gap to bridge, and nothing else. Given two trees separated by 100 feet and a thirty foot deep ditch you are to construct, cross, and break down, a bridge using one 120 foot rope. One man is allowed to sprint across and tie a few knots on the far side, everyone else crosses hanging by a impossibly tight harness under the bridge, pulling themselves hand-over-hand. Then you do it again. Oh, you’re being timed for this one, too. One more thing, the time to beat (combined times of both bridges), is under six minutes. Good luck.
1600: A 5K race. At the end of the day. In camouflage fatigues with a full canteen. At the end of the day. Nine men start, eight must finish together for your score to count. At the end of the day. In 22:35.
The United States Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Corps Viking Battalion from Rogers High School, Newport Rhode Island competed in the 2001 Raider Challenge. We won the 2001 Raider Challenge. More than that, we annihilated the 2001 Raider Challenge. Third place out of 22 schools in the APFT, third in the written exam, fifth place in the land nav, first in the one rope, third in the 5K, first place overall. What did you do this weekend?
Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Chris Neuenfeldt
Rogers High School Viking Raider Team Captain