HIGH-SCHOOL boys in many sections of the country are toughening up on junior commando courses similar to those used in the Army and at colleges to prepare soldiers and prospective soldiers for the rigors of battle. One such obstacle course, scientifically designed for boys of high-school age, is shown in the accompanying photographs and in the drawing on the following page. For comparison, a longer course used by soldiers in training at Fort Meade, Md., is shown on page 141.
The Junior commando course at which the accompanying action pictures were taken was worked out principally by John M. Rowley, secretary and general custodian of the Board of Recreation Commissioners, East Orange, N. J. It is 100 yds. long and has a series of five different types of obstacles intended to give a good, stiff workout to all of a boy's muscles, particularly to those that do not get full exercise during the average day's play. As an example of the speed at which the obstacles can be taken, the boy shown jumping the hurdle in the right foreground of the above photograph was clocked when these pictures were shot, and he made the distance in 32 seconds, which is considered fast time. This will vary for boys of different ages.
All obstacles are easily built of lumber that should not be difficult to obtain. The hurdle, scaling wall, and balance beams are set in concrete to the depths shown in the drawing, while the low bridge and the stakes in the stake maze are simply driven into the ground. In these two cases, where the moisture in the ground is apt to have a deteriorating effect on the lumber, the portions that are to be underground should be impregnated with cresote to prevent rotting.
This course is built 12' wide to accommodate four contestants at one time, and is laid on a 100-yd. straightaway, although there is no reason why it should not be curved to conform to the land available. If this is done, care should be taken not to have the curves too sharp, or too close to such obstacles as the hurdle or scaling wall, for which a running start is necessary. Their own momentum might otherwise carry the contestants off the course. One place where a curve might naturally fit, if convenient in the layout, would be in the stakemaze obstacle itself, for here the stakes are so staggered and are at such unequal intervals that a curve would not add materially to the difficulty of passage.
Stay on the beam! So goes the watchword for this balancing act not unlike a circus tightrope walker's.
This low bridge is no place for fat boys, but few will have excess pounds if they train in this way.
It is a good idea to have at least a 15-yd. straightaway before the opening hurdle, one of 19 yds. before the scaling wall, and an 18-yd. straightaway at the end so that the contestants, if not already winded, can finish with a burst of speed.