Drop and give me twenty...uh…
I mean...fiiiiiive push-ups!
June 22, 2012 was graduation day from Boot Camp for about 35 “mini” bootcamp cadets ranging in age from 5 to 12, held at Meridian Community Park in Loganville.
While there are many fitness groups aimed at keeping kids active for the summer, it is doubtful that there are many, if any, like this one. Boot Camp for Kids is a week long program, led by Retired Army Sergeant First Class Christopher Diaz, JROTC Instructor for South Gwinnett High School, and his wife Emily Diaz, a Certified Personal Trainer. Also in attendance to assist were some of his most lyal and hardworking JROTC Cadets who volunteered their time.
Sgt. Diaz conducted value classes and Physical Fitness Training, while Emily Diaz conducted nutrition classes, teaching on the importance of proper nutrition, hydration, and making the right choices when choosing their food. In light of many of the complaints concerning today’s youth being disrespectful, Sgt. Diaz felt that it would be a good idea to have a program that introduces young people to Military Customs and Courtesies that will help them grow into future leaders for our community.
Each day, they learned at least one of the seven Army Values, using the acronym of (LDRSHIP) Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
They conducted strenuous physical fitness (calisthenics, relays, circuits) daily, including several team building exercises; team building exercise are fun and help kids learn to cooperate with others and work as a team. There were even a few “bear crawls” thrown in keeping with the boot camp spirit.
To make it fun while they learn, Diaz divided the kids into “Platoons”.
Each Platoon had a name and a young leader called a Platoon Sergeant (whose job was to keep their platoon together, helping them to build leadership skills):
1st Platoon: Alpha Gators
2nd Platoon: Bravo Bulldogs
3rd Platoon: Charlie Rock
4th Platoon: Delta Destroyers
There were several brother and sister duos and one 5 year old, Andrew Hammett was heard to say on his way out, “Yesssss! I beat my big sister today!” From beginning to end, each kid had a big smile on their face. However, there was a time to be serious, like pledging to the flag, and learning drills.
ATTENTION! PARADE REST! PRESENT ARMS! ORDER ARMS!
LEFT FACE! RIGHT FACE! ABOUT FACE! FORWARD MARCH!
The first instruction is a preparatory command, and cadets had to learn to wait for the secondary command; waiting and listening being a skill that many kids have a
hard time with. Once they learned about the commands, Diaz then tested them in
many different ways to teach them to listen and follow directions, one being basic standing moves whereby listening for, and following directions was essential if they wanted to remain standing in the group. The campers also learned basic soldiering marches.
During “values” time, he related the art of physical directions to social directions concerning authority figures in their lives. Respect and honor were drilled into them daily. Diaz added that in order to be a good leader, a person must first learn how to be an obedient follower. Obedience is doing what is asked, WHEN it is asked and not questioning authority. "We gave lots of positive reinforcement afterwards when campers followed instructions," he said.
Nutrition time was of equal importance to the physical training, and one young man proved it by insisting just before bedtime that his mom had to let him get a glass of water because (in his words), “But Mom! I need to stay HYDRATED!”
If there were more programs like this one, maybe we wouldn’t hear so
much today about kids and disrespect. Sgt. Diaz delivers his message in a
tough, no nonsense way, but the kids know that he both loves them and respects
them while he’s drilling some discipline into them. And, in kind, they return that respect to him as well as they “present arms” in a reverent salute…afterwards they give him a BIG hug!
Sgt. Diaz and Emily hope to expand their kids groups in the future, so
please feel free to provide some feedback to this article. In the meantime, you’ll find them on Tuesday nights at 235 Main Street at main Street Fitness giving a “Back To Basics” military-style circuit Training classes for 12 yrs. to adults of any age. The classes are for people of all fitness levels and cost is $5 per class. They also offer IN HOME personal training. Local organizations looking to do fundraising may consider a “fundraiser with a Drill Sergeant” or come to your location and host a class for adults and children. It is also a very fun and healthy way to earn cash for you your (ie: baseball team or Scout groups).
Emily Diaz Cell: (225) 329-5547
Sergeant Diaz Cell: (225) 329-5517
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