California Cadet Corps and Bear Flag

Cadet Summer Camp

Traditionally the California Cadet Corps held a state-sponsored summer camp that was provided to cadets at no charge.  However in 1959 the State of California eliminated the funding that was used to support the California Cadet Corps summer encampment. As a result Thomas Armstrong, the Commandant of Cadets from El Camino High School and Allen F. Long, the Commandant of Cadets from La Sierra High School with the help of other teachers and cadets in the Sacramento area beginning planning a local replacement summer camp. Working with the San Juan Unified School District a week-long summer camp program was established in the High Sierras.  These encampments had between 150 and 250 cadets in attendance and were held at Camp Arcade, later renamed Camp Winthers, which was owned and operated by the San Juan Unified School District. The encampment was usually conducted during the first week after school was out. Cadets were permitted to use the camp at no charge in return for the assistance they provided to the San Juan Unified School district staff for camp set-up and conservation projects throughout the area, The only expense to cadets at that time was for food.  Tents and tent platforms were erected and then used by other San Juan Unified School District's students throughout rest of the summer. A rifle range by Lily Pad Lake was constructed by cadets and a road up onto the plateau area was also built by cadets using picks and shovels.  

Map reading, rifle marksmanship on “landscape” type targets, tactics, wilderness survival, methods of instruction, first-aid, swimming, and canoeing we taught at both a basic and advanced levels during the encampment.  George Robinson Commandant of Cadets from Grant Union High School led a group of advance cadets into a training area at the base of Devil's Peak for a five day wilderness survival exercise.

The San Juan Unified School District summer camp was used in this manner by cadets for several years. However, heavy snow falls in the Sierras sometimes made it difficult or impossible to get into the camp during the first two weeks in June and a later encampment would conflict with other school district uses, alternate locations in the Sierras (Pi Pi Valley), Camp Roberts, and Camp San Luis Obispo were often used.  Holding the encampment later in the summer at Camp Winthers was not just possible because it would have conflicted with other San Juan Unified School District summer camp activities.  

One of the most challenging and successful summer camp activities for advanced cadets included an extensive mountaineering skills program. Third year cadets, who could qualify, participated in this mountaineering training at Camp San Luis Obispo and Camp Roberts, California.  Here, cadets learned knot tying, rope working, rigging skills, repelling, ascending, and other mountaineering skills during the first five days of their the summer encampment.  During the sixth and seventh day these now qualified mountaineers acted as cadre members to teach the second year Officer Candidate and Advanced Survival program students how to rappel. The rappelling training was conducted in a quarry, off cliff faces, and off railroad bridges in the area.

Many pictures are available in the restricted area archives.  Click here to gain access.