Students navigate Germany with SERE Airmen

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Having the ability to navigate through any type of terrain and be able to get from point A to point B with a compass and map can be a useful skill to have, not only in an emergency but for recreational purposes as well.

Advancement via Individual Determination students from Ramstein Middle School were given the tools and knowledge to learn land navigation by 86th Operational Support Squadron's survive, evade, resist and escape specialists.

AVID is an elective class, geared toward assisting students in learning how to take notes, study and prepare them for college.

"Navigation is a phenomenal skill to have anywhere you go," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Krape, 86th OSS SERE specialist. "It doesn't have to be for strictly getting lost in a forest. Land navigation can be used in a big city as well."

Since January, a SERE specialist visited the AVID class one day a month to teach them the different aspects of land navigation: reading a map, understanding the military grid reference system, reading a compass and more.

After five months of classroom sessions, AVID students were able to put their skills to the test by participating in the first ever navigational challenge, where they had to find their way from one point to another.

"The students learned team collaboration and how to use the inquiry process to develop the right steps for finding their checkpoints," said Jonathan Petrick, AVID teacher. "They work together with peers they don't normally see and were able to build a sense of community."

While trekking through the forest during the navigational challenge, AVID students were given a task such as solving a math problem at every destination which needed to be completed in order to receive the coordinates for the next checkpoint.

Every student was given the opportunity to lead their group to predetermined coordinates, allowing them to sharpen their skills and build confidence.

"We had to work together to assist the lead person in getting us to the next point," said Maddie Morelock, AVID student and daughter of Air Force Col. Michael Morelock. "We had to trust that the people you were with would get us back safely."

After 26 hours of planning and preparation, obstacles and overcoming those difficulties, both Krape and Petrick shared the same sentiments; thanks to the SERE specialists and their active volunteers, the navigational challenge will be done again next year, giving more students the chance to learn land navigation.

Whether it's finding their way through the forest or navigating through the city, these students have the knowledge necessary to find their way back home.