The Camden Experience

By: Matthew Weaver on May 12, 2021 | Categories: General

Our school, like many other military academies, has the distinct function of turning boys into men. Two prime examples would be alumni Leo Eckhardt (CMA ‘19) and Wesley-William Gotsch (CMA ‘20). Their time at Camden Military Academy led these two young men to the military college of South Carolina, The Citadel. While at Camden, Leo and Wesley both held cadet officer positions, Leo as a Battalion Public Affairs Officer (S-5) and Wesley as a Platoon Leader in Alpha Company. The leadership experience Camden gave them an edge at The Citadel, as well. Wesley said of his time at Camden, “I cannot thank Camden Military and its staff enough for the valuable leadership traits, lifetime bonds, and academic prowess gained during my cadetship. Camden Military Academy gave me a chance to lead both in and out of the classroom. My time spent as a platoon leader at Camden Military provided me invaluable time to develop my leadership abilities. In addition, I took every dual enrollment college course available, so I arrived at the Citadel as an academic sophomore. As a result, I came to the Citadel with a leg up on my classmates academically, athletically, and in a capacity to lead. This advantage allowed me to secure Regimental Clerk, the highest rank possible as an upcoming sophomore. My Camden Experience was packed full of fond memories, experienced TAC Officers (SGM Stokes and 1SG Pearson), great teachers (MAJ Horn, LTC Schrader, and LTC Heflin), and life lessons that have enabled me to thrive in all walks of life and have shaped me into the man I am today.” Leo, now in his sophomore year, has had a similar experience- saying “Camden prepared me for the Citadel in many ways, not least of which was the college preparatory education it offered me. I entered the Citadel with 27 credit hours that I accumulated throughout my time at Camden. This allowed me to start college out at 24% of my degree while most of my classmates were still at 0%. Thanks to this, I chose the path Camden and the undying effort and dedication of LTC John Heflin, and LTC Kelly Schrader prepared me to take, the one less traveled. I am now quadruple majoring in Intelligence Analysis & Security Studies with a concentration in Counterterrorism, Social Studies Education, Modern Languages, and Criminal Justice as well as quadruple minoring in War Studies, German, Cyber Interdisciplinary Studies, and International Relations. Militarily I did not experience the same level of culture shock my classmates did. Being intimately familiar with the military hierarchy systems, structures, and procedures, I stayed ahead. Instead of needing to concern myself with things like a drill, I focused on college's academic rigors. The training I received from CSM Irtenkauf, 1SGs Irvin, Collins, and Jackson, as well as LTC Armstrong prepared me better than I thought it would. I got to the Citadel surprised with how well prepared I was, and how much better my situational overview was. Lastly, the preparation in all these fields and having already experienced leadership at various levels of command from the squad to battalion presented me with the opportunity to take my desire to put these skills into practice. I founded the Russian Club at the Citadel and was elected as a club officer for the German club. I am very grateful to find myself so fortunate, but not in a thousand years would I have been able to do these things had it not been for the great leaders, mentors, and, most importantly, friends I was blessed with throughout my five years at Camden Military. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I had there, the forged bonds, and the lessons learned.” Both have been chosen for Regimental Clerk Positions, Leo as a Regimental Operations Clerk, and Wesley as a Regimental Supply Clerk. Both hold one of only two available positions, and they both hold the highest positions available to cadets of their class. In addition, Leo was selected for The Citadel’s Distinguished Scholar Program, a program offered by the college intended to prepare cadets for graduate schools or executive positions in future careers. The CDSP is a distinct honor and a goal many cadets aspire to attain. The CDSP has provided cadets in the program scholarships from the Rhodes, Hertz, Gates, Marshall, and National Science Foundations and has led cadets from the halls of The Citadel to go on to graduate studies at prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Yale, Oxford, Berkeley, Princeton, Stanford, and leagues more. Camden Military Academy will always have a place for these two permanent members of our Brotherhood. We’re incredibly proud of these two men and their successes at The Citadel.