What’s it all about?
You see them at every Suncoast Orienteering (SOAR) event. They will be in their team T-shirts or sometimes in military fatigues. They are students enrolled in a high school program called JROTC which stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Their high school program is supported by one of four branches of the military – Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines – and some of the cadets are headed toward military careers. However, military training and recruiting are apparently not the main objectives of their programs. You can do an internet search to find out more details about any or all of the JROTC programs.
Team competitions are an important part of JROTC life. They compete, for example, in Drill, Rifle, field exercises, drone, and yes, Orienteering. Two of the branches – Navy and Air Force – have competitions to declare national champions in orienteering.
For over 20 years, a constantly growing number of JROTC students and their teams have been participating in Florida and Suncoast orienteering events. Each event has its own registration, competition, and awards structure. The two Florida clubs (SOAR & FLO) give them a lot of support. We prepare the courses and print the maps, and thanks to FLO’s Blaik Mathews, we have an integrated results program. Normally, JROTC events occur within our event structure.
At SOAR and FLO events each cadet participates in one of six competition courses – Yellow (Novice), Orange (Intermediate), or Green (Advanced) for males and females. Male or female? Isn’t that sexist? It could be but care is taken to have the courses “separate but equal”. The division is done so that in the larger events the entry numbers for any one course are time manageable.
After each event, we can take the results and integrate them into a state-wide JROTC Orienteering Rankings program. After ten years of growth, there are now typically some 1,500 JROTC students from about 60 schools competing in up to 16-20 events included in their rankings.
For each new school year, the slate is wiped clean for the students and a new set of rankings is started.
The school rankings roll over yearly, with points earned for the last 12 months counted in the team rankings.
Annual Florida JROTC Individual Rankings Champions By Category