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cadet blogs

USCG: An Amazing Organization

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Dear Family of 2021 Swab,

 

So right now you’re probably a combination of anxious and extremely proud of your son or daughter for their decision to join the Class of 2021 at the United States Coast Guard Academy. You saw them off on “Day One” as they began this new chapter of their lives, and maybe you’ll even get a letter or two this summer speaking of their Swab Summer experience. While Swab Summer has its trials and its ups and downs, know that they are going into an amazing organization. The Coast Guard has truly transformed me as a person throughout the past three years. The people are phenomenal, and the best part is that it truly feels like a family. With the connections one makes inside and outside of the service, he or she will get a wide variety of opportunities within your four years at the Academy and beyond. Currently, I am stationed on the West Coast. Coming out here I knew so many familiar faces – alumni, fellow cadets, and other Coast Guard men and women I have met and worked with in the past. The leadership advice and guidance they have given me as I transition into my final year at the CGA is helping me to realize what I want to do when I graduate and consider potential career opportunities.

 

Your son or daughter is going to need your support throughout this summer and their freshman (4/c) year. The transition can be difficult, but trust me when I say they could not have set themselves up for a better future. Help them to see the big picture and appreciate the opportunity they have earned. Hopefully this letter helps to ease any anxiety of saying goodbye to your child, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Very Respectfully,
1/c Hannah Eshleman
Hannah.M.Eshleman@uscga.edu

 

More about Hannah.

 

Dear Families of New Swabs

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Opas Photo Dear Families of New Swabs,

 

Looking back at the singular year I’ve been in the Coast Guard, I realize how fulfilling it has been. But that sense of fulfillment did not come without an initiation period. As swabs, just like our enlisted and officer brethren in the fleet, we must break into Academy life. We must go through trials and tribulations alongside our classmates for these seven brief weeks so that we learn to take care of ourselves AND lean on each other during times of stress. To you, the summer without your swab may feel immeasurably long. To your swab, this summer will feel like an eternity. It will not be without tears, bruises, scrapes, or sacrifices; and certainly not without a profuse amount of sweating.

 

But know this. Your swab is in good hands. If not their more-than-capable company chiefs and officers, or their cadre, but their classmates. Your swabs are making some of the BEST friendships they have ever made, and will ever make in their lives. The men and women your swab stood shoulder to shoulder with on Washington Parade Field will be your sons and daughters’ family. They will buoy them up at 2 a.m. when they have to write a 1,000-word paper due the next day, they will run alongside them to make sure they pass the PFE every semester, and they will give your swab that integral piece of motivation when they hit the point in the summer where they feel they cannot take one step further.

 

I still remember running across Washington Parade Field in the last ten minutes I had to say goodbye to my family last summer. I recall the tears blurring my vision. But I also remember the pride I saw in my parents’ faces. The swabs may have already come to grips with the fact they won’t be home often anymore. If they haven’t, they will in time. Let them. It’s not that you’re losing a child, but rather that they’re becoming a part of something bigger than themselves. They’re ripping themselves from their comfort zones, devoting themselves to a higher calling, and doing some seriously amazing things in the process. You should be incredibly proud of them; they’re growing up a lot faster than their high school peers.

 

When you see your swab this summer, and believe me, you will, make sure to give him or her a hug‒ the cadre tend not to budget time in the swabbies’ schedules for them to bond and simply be human. Don’t pester your swab for stories, he or she will tell them in good time. Make sure to send swabbie snacks during the summer, and send letters‒even if it’s just to tell them what the weather’s like back home. Letters and packages make the roughest days just a bit better. But don’t necessarily expect a response immediately or frequently. It depends on the person, but with very little time to themselves, every swab budgets their time differently.

 

Take comfort in the knowledge that every swab is learning valuable life lessons. Be proud of them, be supportive of them, and be accepting of the new adults they’re becoming.

 

Cheers,
Former Swab Opas

 

More about Leah.

 

A Full Firstie Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Holland Photo Hey everyone!

 

It's been awhile, but firstie summer is jam-packed with more than I ever thought it could be. I spent the first few weeks in Guantanamo Bay and then on USCGC Forward doing a patrol in the Caribbean. We did helo operations, small boat OPS, and while I was in GTMO I helped transport detainees and drugs. The summer so far has been a very broad view of USCG operations and I have become much better because of it.

 

Currently, I am the Battalion AIM Officer and am assisting with Swab Summer before the AIMsters arrive. As a member of battalion staff, you have to oversee the cadre and assist in any way possible, including being an expert in whichever field you are in. This summer's battalion staff is a great team, and I am looking forward to the next month of Swab Summer and AIM. Both programs are hard to get into and equally tough while you are a trainee; however, if you really want it, you will make it through. Best of luck to all of you.

 

Very Respectfully,
1/c Taylor Holland
Battalion AIM Officer

 

More about Taylor.

 

Dear Class of 2021 Parent

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Farlow Photo June 26, 2017 will now always mark a special place in your heart. Maybe not quite like a birthday or anniversary, but when you see it on the calendar it will make you smile, at least for a second. It was the day your child made the biggest commitment thus far in their lives, and whether you realize it now or later, you made a commitment too, and you became part of the Coast Guard family. Swab Summer is tough, but your child will make it through and then fourth class year will be full of ups and downs, learning experiences, and most importantly lifelong bonds and memories. Before you know it, your swab turned third class cadet will be sitting here writing a letter to the class of 2022 parents, wondering where their first year of college went and how their second summer is almost complete. Between now and then, there will be good days and bad days, days they are sure they will make it and days they are unsure how they made it this far. When I look back on my fourth class year, I struggle to remember the negative events, and although it may not seem like it, in a year your 3/c cadet will do the same. They will think back to Day One, killing a calculus test, a weekend full of adventures with friends in NYC, coming home for the first time, their first practice or game as a collegiate athlete, passing boards, and earning carry-on and everything else will fade away.

 

Fourth class year is hectic, even on a slow day. Bear (no pun intended) with your cadet as they figure out their schedule and when they have time to talk and when they can’t. If they say they need to write a paper, or they need to prep a uniform, they have a three hour practice, they need to wax their floor, or attend CAAP, I promise those are all things that need to be done, sometimes all in one day after attending a full day of classes. Just tell them to breathe and that when all those things are complete you will still be around. If they mention trying a new sport or joining a club, encourage them, even if you don’t know anything about it, because distractions from Academy life are key to survival. Also, encourage them to take adventures on long weekends; it will give them something to look forward to. Tell them to go to NYC or Boston, if nothing else it is worth it to be able to wear civilian clothes and feel like a person instead of a cadet, even if it is just for three days.

 

Finally, as a cadet there is only so much I can say about being the parent of a cadet, so my own parents would tell you that the Academy experience in general, and fourth class year in particular, is your child’s experience. Your son or daughter, prior to Day One, probably did not fail at much, so it will be difficult to listen to their struggles—and they will struggle, get knocked down, fail, be challenged and pushed—perhaps to points they did not know they had. Despite the temptation, allow them to tackle this challenge on their own terms. Support them on this journey, but always know that you cannot take the journey for them. Remind them to laugh—to never lose their sense of humor. Above all, be proud of the fact that your son or daughter has answered the call to service; raised their right hand and taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Welcome to your new family—the parents of USCGA cadets.

 

Go Bears!

Francesca Farlow

 

More about Francesca.

 

Swimming in the Bermuda Triangle

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Wheeler Photo Never in my life did I think that I would swim in the Bermuda Triangle! The command of USCGC Eagle, on its voyage to Bermuda, decided to take a break from sailing the crystal clear Atlantic waters one hot afternoon to let the crew go for a dive. We set up a rope swing and jumped off the waist of the ship, not unlike Tarzan, into the bluest waters I've seen in my life. None of us knew how deep it was or what sea creatures lay bellow, but we plunged in anyway. Taking a break from the normal hustle and bustle aboard America's Tall Ship was much needed and many cadets, officers, and enlisted crew alike were relieved by the cool ocean. The swells and waves made the swim even more exciting with up to a hundred of us in the water at once. The fun was cut short by a surprise visit from a couple of Portuguese man o’ war (venomous things that look like bubbles and float on the surface), which was immediately followed by a mass scramble to the rope ladders on the side of the ship. All in all, the swim call was definitely a highlight of the trip and being able to say that we swam in the Bermuda Triangle is incredibly unique, not to mention a lifelong memory.

 

More about Pat.