Citadel cadet Andrew Rolander draws a line in the dirt with the edge of his boot.
Then he places his foot parallel to the line with his boot touching it.
To lead other cadets well through the physical and military parts of the school's program, "you have to come this close" to the school's definition of hazing, he says. But you can't step over it.
It's like "tiptoeing on a razor-fine line," Rolander says.
Rolander was one of about 40 cadets who spent the morning taking an outdoor challenge course at James Island County Park.
In between challenges, some cadets talked about how tough it can sometimes be to lead other cadets. The Citadel program is designed to be extremely stressful at times, especially for new cadets, they say.
"If you take someone out of their comfort zone, you can really see what they're made of," Rolander says.
Cadet leaders know it's important to recognize the limits. But they say that sometimes the limits make it hard for them to do their jobs.
The group of commanders, first sergeants and sergeant majors had no problem with the physical parts of the day's challenges that included:
--climbing a 10-foot wall
--holding strings radiating from a metal ring and balancing a ball on the ring while walking, sometimes with their eyes closed
--completing a low-ropes course.
All the exercises required trust and teamwork, not brute force.
They had to collaborate, trust each other and be mindful of what the people behind them were doing.
In one exercise, Clinton Handelson, a junior, was required to close his eyes while most of his teammates kept their eyes open, effectively making him a weak link in the chain.
He got a new understanding of the saying "you're only as strong as your weakest link," he said.
All of the 100 cadets enrolled in the week-long training gathered in the afternoon for a classroom session designed to help them learn more about themselves.
Included in the larger group are students on the Human Affairs Team. These students make themselves available to cadets who are having trouble with "anything from drugs to 'my dog just died,'" junior Christopher Olsen says. Cadets have nicknamed them "hugs and kisses" for the sensitive nature of their work, he says.
Lt.Col. Jeffrey Weart, director of the school's Krause Leadership Initiative, says the group completes several questionnaires "that help them look at themselves."
The theme of the day was "Know thyself."
The idea, Weart says, is that cadets need to be aware of their preferences, strengths and weaknesses before they can effectively lead others.
Citadel definition of hazing from The Fourth Class Manual, known as "the red book."Hazing is a violation of South Carolina law and Citadel regulations and is punishable by expulsion from The Citadel.Hazing is defined as wrongful striking, an unauthorized laying hand upon, threatening with violence, or offering bodily harm by any student, or any other unauthorized treatment by one student toward another student of tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature; or otherwise requiring any student to perform any personal service for another student except as specifically provided for cadets in the Fourth Class System or Cadet Regulations. Fourth class cadets may report hazing to anybody within or outside of the chain of command.