Story by Sgt. Ian Safford
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
SALINA, Kan. – Instead of spending a beautiful Sunday morning in the classroom, candidates of class 65 Officer Candidate School, 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment, sharpened their communication and teamwork skills while traversing through an obstacle course at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kansas, Sept. 13.
Class 65 has just begun phase two of Officer Candidate School after being together in phase one for nine months. During that time, however, they only met together once a month due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, so they are still learning how to work as a team. The impact of COVID-19 also hindered the class’s ability to meet in a normal classroom setting over the prior two to three months, adding the need for an event to foster teamwork and reliance on one another.
“We didn’t get a chance to build that cohesion before going into phase two together,” said Cadet Zachary Kolich. “So we have kind of been reeling with that, but I think we are doing a good job building a really good team.”
The two-part obstacle course challenged OCS candidates to work together to accomplish common goals, strengthen communication skills, and build confidence in their abilities.
The course started simple enough, with a few activities created to set a baseline understanding of how well the class communicated with one another. At times candidates were blindfolded and told to communicate obstacles along a path to one another; with other obstacles, only a select few were allowed to speak with the rest of the class.
“We are looking for the candidates to work together as a team and critically think and work through problems,” said Capt. Adam Taylor, officer in charge of class 65, 1st Bn., 235th Regt. “We want each candidate to learn their strengths and their weaknesses, then bring that together to accomplish the mission.”
The candidates were forced to learn new ways to communicate with one another as normal avenues of communication were taken away from them and as each obstacle increased in difficulty. Candidates had to build on knowledge and skills learned from previous activities to overcome each new and more complicated obstacle.
“This reinforced that communication and teamwork are the way to get goals done and tasks accomplished,” said candidate Angelice Giesbrecht.
Giesbrecht transferred over from the Air Force to the Kansas Army National Guard to attend OCS. She encourages any Kansas Army Guard Soldiers who are contemplating making that switch over to the commissioned side to go for it.
“The OCS class has been one of the most challenging, yet satisfying things that I have done in my life, ” Giesbrecht said. “You just need to be prepared for a lot of hard work. It is a lot of hard work on the weekends even between drills, a lot of physical and mental challenges, but I think in the end it will be worth it.”