WHAT EXACTLY IS RAIDER?
Raider Competition or "Raider" as it is more commonly known is a very popular athletic competition held within Junior ROTC programs around the United States. It is the Junior ROTC equivalent of the Army ROTC "Ranger" competition in college, only far less dangerous but very challenging as well! The events are held outdoors in state parks or large expansive wooded areas. The better competitions have plenty of parking and sleeping areas for spectators and participants on-site, as well as concessions and other amenities to make the event fun for all.
The exact Raider events differ depending on where you are competing much like every golf course is slightly different but the game is the same. Generally, no matter where you compete, there will be some type of personal fitness/individual strength test (i.e., push-ups, curl-ups, tire drag, obstacle course, etc.) There will also be a distance team running event, along with some type of through the woods obstacle type event, and also some form of rescue/first aid event (rescuing a body from the woods on a liter). Lastly, almost every Raider event has some form of Rope Bridge construction/transport component. Other events can be maintained and often are held including first aid test, land navigation, etc. but I think you get the general idea that this is a mental and physical test of strength and endurance that takes a committed group of youngsters willing to train hard to prepare for to be safe and successful.
Raider events are specifically designed far less dangerous in comparison to their ROTC-level parallels because Junior ROTC is about citizenship, leadership and physical, mental and emotional wellness. ROTC is a program designed to provide officers into the U.S. military. The missions of these two programs are completely different and are taught completely differently. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the events are different as well.
Rules can be very different for Raider competition depending on where you live and where you compete but in general, Raider competitions are designed for a small group of physically fit and mentally tough cadets to compete in various outdoor activities preferably in a very primitive-type location with solid amenities to ensure safety of the participants. Again, painting with a broad brush, several schools from the Midwest feel the Raider Nationals is not as challenging as it should be physically. Conversely, several instructors with schools from the northeast feel the Raider Nationals is far too physically demanding. Some schools think it should be more cerebral with more intelligence-based events included. Fortunately, much like the three bears, most schools think the Raider Nationals is just about right!
While the vast majority of Raider teams are formed within Army JROTC programs, some of these teams are also found within Marine Corps, Navy and even a few Air Force programs. Most schools who "Raider" have a male team, but almost as many have a mixed team. Some bigger schools also offer a separate female team, or any combination depending on the number of cadets within to participate. As the competitive sport of Raider gains more and more teams, the other three services will likely gain more talent and traction! Regardless, competing in Raider is a great way for JROTC cadets to stay mentally and physically in shape in a military framework. Mostly, it is the most mega-hooah activity in all of JROTC!