CADETS AND STAFF OF CAMDEN MILITARY ACADEMY PRESENT PROGRAM TO LOCAL DAR CHAPTER
Six uniformed cadets and three staff members, including Headmaster Col. Eric Boland, presented the March 16 program for the women of the Old Cheraws Chapter, DAR, at Cheraw’s First Presbyterian Church. Two of the top cadet winners of the recent Richmond, VA, drill team competition led off with an outside demonstration of their skills – marching, handling of weapons, precision, etc. The exhibition was so perfectly synchronized that on occasion it seemed as though only one man was on the grounds. Next was the presentation of the colors inside the Ladies’ Parlor. Four members of the color guard presented and led the DAR members in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States. Afterallowing a few moments for members to ask questions, the six cadets and two uniformed men accompanying them departed for Camden.
Kappie Griggs introduced Col. Boland who spoke on “Blending High Quality Education and Military Principles.” Col. Boland, who has been on the Camden Military staff for 32 years, began with a brief history of the Academy. Only three men have served as headmaster of the Academy, and only 17 secondary level military boarding schools remain in the U.S. Of those, only seven are single gender like Camden Military which is thriving. There are currently 290 students; capacity is 300. Camden Military Academy has students from grades 7 through 12 from 37 states and 9 different countries. International students represent China, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, and other nations. The school board limits the number of foreign students admitted. Col. Boland outlined the daily schedule followed by students. Weekdays are focused on academic, sports, military and physical training classes and study halls. Breakfast is mandatory and students form in companies, recite the Pledge, have prayer and Bible reading. Saturdays and Sundays including inspections, some furloughs, and dress parades. Sunday there is also Chapel. Jewish and Muslim students are excused from the chapel requirement.
A new program in partnership with USC was instituted 7 years ago. Professors come from the University to teach, and a student can earn as many as 33 hours of college credit. Two dozen men from the Academy have started college as sophomores after participating in this program. Col. Boland explained the ranking system and the organizations of squadrons, companies, and platoons. Students have cell phones. He said rules have evolved over the years. If drugs are used the student is dismissed. Females are not permitted in the barracks. All classes are college preparatory and admission standards are fairly lenient. Costs are reasonable -- $22,000 a year including all meals, laundry, uniforms, books, etc. Everyone signs a pledge not to bully. Emergency preparedness is one important focus.
A South Carolina native himself, Col. Boland is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he earned a bachelor’s degree, 2 master’s, and one educational specialist. He completed the Executive Leadership and Management Program at the Mendoza Business College of the University of Notre Dame and holds a PhD in Christian counseling. After completing his remarks, Col. Boland answered a number of questions about the Academy. Col. Boland has served as teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, and now headmaster at the Academy. His basketball and football records as coach have been outstanding, and he has been named state coach of the year on several occasions. His athletes have received college scholarships at universities around the country. He is also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and is a leading organizer and sponsor of the Kershaw County Special Olympics. His awards include Col. Lemuel Benton Award for Patriotic Endeavors and the Camden Junior Welfare League Community Service Award. Eric is married to Celia Boland, a retired Kershaw County school teacher for 19 years. The Bolands have a son Matthew, currently serving as a SC law enforcement officer.
Hostesses for this meeting were Penny Angle, Elaine Benner, Sandra Coker, Nell Huntley, Bea Sloop, and Beth Witherspoon.