First State Military Academy’s obstacle course nears completion

DOVER — First State Military Academy’s Marine Corps JROTC obstacle course, a project started in early March, is nearing completion. The unique-to-the-region course will likely be finished by the end of April, said Col. Robert Wallace, the senior Marine instructor at the Clayton charter school.

“I don’t know of anyone else nearby who has a course like this — the air force base doesn’t have one and neither do the other local schools,” he said.
According to Col. Wallace, the funding and labor that’s gone into the project was sourced in a unique way.

“The project was crowd funded over 30 days through an online platform called USEED,” he said. “We raised about $33,000 over that short period of time. A series of professional volunteers have also donated their time, supplies and other materials toward the project.”

The plan for the course includes 27 separate obstacles spread over four lanes, each 200 feet in length, and will feature a 20-foot high rope climb. Col. Wallace notes that the course will be very similar to the standard Marine Corps style with the exclusion of some of the more dangerous portions.

“It has a log wall, a series of high log hurdles, a rope climb, rope swing, monkey bars, parallel bars and pain pits,” he added. “We call them pain pits in the Marine vernacular just to get the kids’ attention. They are basically 20 by 20 square pits where we have the kids exercise.”

Larry Massingill, left, and Art Wilson work on the First State Military Academy obstacle course in Clayton. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Using the obstacle course won’t be mandatory among students, but Col. Wallace says that it will figure into the school’s overall fitness program. He feels that in addition to adding a physical element to the fitness program, the course will add a mental challenge to the students’ exercise regimen as well.

“This program is all about leadership and character development, those are the two attributes that we focus on in our Marine Corps JROTC program,” he said. “The course is a challenge for these young men and women and it builds on their character, motivating them to not quit.”

Pleased with the community support the project saw during the funding stage, the Academy looks forward to making the course useful to the public as well. The course will be accessible for training to the community’s active and reserve military members, local and state police, firefighter departments and possibly more.

“It will be great to see local law enforcement or the national guard make use of it,” said Col. Wallace. “We hope to eventually turn it into kind of a ‘mud run’ style competition as well — it’d be a great physical event.”

Residents interested in offering their assistance with the completion of the course or interested in using it once it’s complete are welcome to contact the Marine Corps JROTC office at (302) 223-2151

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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