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NEWS | Oct. 23, 2023

Mandatory training with a twist at 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center

By Courtesy Story 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center

Thunderbolt Day is the 83rd United States Army Reserve Readiness Training Center’s day dedicated to mandatory training. On Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, Thunderbolt Day had Master Resilience Training but with a twist. 

The 83rd Higher Headquarter Commander, Capt. Tori Menedez always strives to vitalize mandatory training. For training on Friday, the 13th, she found a guest instructor, Mr. Emerson Gagnon, a cognitive performance specialist from the R2 [Ready and Resilient] Performance Center located on Ft. Knox.

Gagnon brought the 83rd an hour of fun and meaningful team-building activities.

A few of the activities were the Blast Attack, the Marshmallow Challenge, and the Entourage Challenge. The Blast Attack activity required six randomly selected participants to stack bolts on top of each other without them falling using only a thin wooden stick and within a short timeframe.
“MRT teaches how to take a punch, R2 teaches how to throw a punch,” said Gagnon.

The R2 Performance Center, builds off the MRT modules taught during Thunderbolt Day by providing hands on group activities for the Soldiers and Army Civilians to enhance their resilience and optimize their performances. 

The Marshmallow Challenge tasked participants to create the tallest tower using only one marshmallow, a blue string, a piece of tape, a pair of scissors and few strands of uncooked spaghetti. 

The final challenge, the Entourage Challenge, was a Rock, Scissor, Paper battle royale that continued till there was only one ultimate winner. All these activities aid in increasing unit cohesion, interpersonal skills and team dynamics. 

“Connecting with the Soldiers during these competitive activities, is what makes the training fun.” Said Kerry D. Roberts, a Readiness Training Academy civilian training specialist. 

Sgt. 1st Class Angel Ortiz, was one of the proud members of the winning team for the Marshmallow Challenge commented on the MRT training, “It was fantastic! It gave us a break from the typical Army training. We see all these people all the time, but it was fun to interact with them like this.” 

Master Sgt. Christian Epps found the training “intriguing”. “You don’t see a lot of this kind of high energy with mandatory training. It’s usually a sit down and listen scenario.”

Gagnon has spent the last seven years assisting the 83rd by bringing customized hands-on resilience training and activities to U.S ARRTC and now, to Thunderbolt Day. 

Army leaders interested in utilizing R2 Performance Center to aid in their mandatory trainings can find further information at