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Army Engineering and Construction Camp Sponsorship Recipient’s Letter from Camp

Dear Savannah Post,


    I would like to thank you for sponsoring me to the 2017 SAME Army Engineering and Construction Camp which was held in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The camp was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and it helped me realize how important and necessary it is to have young people such as myself take an interest in and become engineers.


    One of the great things about the camp was meeting people from all over the country, each with their own background, skills, and aspirations. Upon arriving in Mississippi I met twelve other campers at the airport and we quickly became friends through card games and by sharing riddles on the bus ride to the 168th National Guard Armory. There we would meet the other campers and be divided up into teams for the week of competition which was to follow. I became a part of Red team and along with nine other campers we were able to prove that we were the best team of engineers there. We were able to solve whatever problem or situation placed in front of us and not only solve but solve efficiently, just as a an engineer facing a real world problem would need to.


Throughout the week challenges and situations were placed before us that gave us a glimpse into what engineers work with everyday. One of these challenges was to given to us on the first day there and that was to create a concrete which was not only as strong as we could make it but also cost effective. Being the first task thrown at us, the team was able to get a feel for each other and see how all of our minds worked. Roles quickly developed and efficient teamwork began to take place. This was evident on the last day of camp when our concrete was proven to the best of all four teams, We’re talking the strongest, most economical set of non air entrained concrete cylinders ever created by a group of aspiring engineers.


Not only was it a pleasure to meet and get to know my fellow campers, it was also great to have what were called a pilot and first mate, these were young engineers assigned to each group who had just graduated college and received their B.S. degrees in their respective field of engineering. Being able to speak to them and ask them questions about their experiences truly helped give different perspectives on different fields of engineering.


There were many places we visited and things we learned during camp, there was never a moment to spare for as soon as we awoke our day was filled with activity. Of the many activities and places visited one of my favorites was the tour of Vicksburg Military Park. Here we learned how a Confederate engineer was able to set up a defense of the river city against an overwhelming Federal force. This showed me that battles are not only fought and won by soldiers but by engineers. Engineers see the landscape and set up the battlefield in their favor or they see a defensive position and find a way to infiltrate it as the Union engineers were doing at Vicksburg so long ago. Learning of this has peaked my interest in becoming an engineer as well as an officer in the world’s greatest military.


The ending of camp was something special; after testing the concrete each team had created we were taken to the Vicksburg district Army Corps of  Engineers Headquarters. There Red team would lead all in the singing of the National Anthem, as we demonstrated we were not only the best engineers but also the best singers. The closing ceremony took place as special guest speaker General Wher, Head of Army Engineering Post, spoke to us about how to become an effective team and took questions from the campers. I was able to ask him about his Sapper tab on his uniform and see what his most fond memory of blowing something up was. But what was something truly special was Ret. General Flowers being in the crowd, (his granddaughter was actually on Red Team) he briefly talked to us about the importance of young minds taking to the fields of engineering. But this wasn't just any ordinary man speaking, General Flowers had a way of captivating the room with his words, I mean when he spoke you just knew people were truly listening. I believe his words resonated inside every camper that day and perhaps even the parents, they certainly resonated with me.


Following the talks of General Wher some of his Colonels and General Flowers certificates and awards were handed out. I was honored to have been chosen by my peers on Red Team to receive the leadership award. The previous night I was also awarded the “Most Likely to be America’s Next Top Poet” seemingly due to the fact that on the night we all arrived to camp when it was my turn to speak to the campers about myself I joked that I like long romantic walks on the beach and poetry in order to get them all to laugh seeing as I am seen as a guy who would not enjoy those two activities (By the way it worked, everyone in the room cracked up!)


I would like to thank you once more for providing me with such a great experience. I was able to have a look into some more fields of engineering and develop a greater understanding of the profession. The camp also allowed me to reinforce my drive of wanting to become an Army  officer, to be that man in the room that General Flowers was at the closing ceremony. As look to gain admission into West Point and become part of the Long Grey Line, I will continue to remember the experiences that drive me.




Rodrigo R. Artolozaga