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cadet blogs

A Summer in Review

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hello CGA blog readers! It’s that time of year again, when everyone returns from their awesome summer assignments with stories to share and classes to look forward to. I was pretty up to speed with my blogs about the 2/c summer experience up until I became a cadre and got pretty busy. So I won’t waste words talking about my first few summer activities: Range, Rules of the Road, T-boats, and aviation training. However, looking back on my summer, the highs and the lows, I have to backtrack to mid-May. In May, I went into the doctors’ office because my shoulder was all out of sorts. I had dislocated it during a rugby match in early May, and I knew it was time to get it checked out. After an MRI, I learned I had severely torn my labrum (shoulder) and chipped a bone in my shoulder as well. With Swab Summer weeks away, I decided to wait to have surgery until after summer training. I don’t write that because I want people to pity the situation, or for people to think that I’m tough. I write that because I chose to forgo surgery to train the Class of 2018, and that passion to train the incoming swabs was more important to me than surgery. I would dare so far as to say that many of my fellow cadre had the same sense of passion about it as I did. So, for all the parents and future cadets out there, please know that your cadre are passionate about training you, and they chose to do your cadre for a reason.

 

Anyway, fast forward a couple months from May, and Swab Summer was just around the corner. I was home for a week off but I couldn’t get Swab Summer off my mind. Instead of living it up for that week, I spent hours reading books on leadership and preparing physically to train the incoming swabs. Additionally, I set goals for myself as a cadre. I wanted to be fair and respectful foremost. However, I also wanted to be a teacher. As cadre 1, it is easy to slip into a role of being a strict disciplinarian, but I wanted to break from that. Additionally, I wanted to instill a sense of pride in the Coast Guard and to teach them about what we do, in the hopes that it would unite them as a team and motivate them to perform.

 

As cadre 1, my job was to break down the civilian identities of the swabs; basically train them on uniform standards and drill; introduce the core values; and basically indoctrinate them. That is a high set of expectations, and I was lucky enough to have an excellent section of cadre to work with. We meshed well with personalities and work well as a team. After about a week, we were rolling as a team, supporting each other, backing each other up, and balancing the work load/responsibilities. By the end of week two, we were exhausted. People don’t realize, but cadre work just as hard as the swabs if they are doing it right. In addition to leading from the front and doing all the physical work that the swabs do, we have to figure out how to train them most effectively, and we have to take care of their physical and mental needs (like clinic visits and chaplain/counselor visits). We would stay up long after the swabs went to sleep, for me often not going to sleep until after midnight. We would discuss the day, what went well or didn’t go well, medical appointments, and we would plan for the upcoming day. As the last week arrived, we were exhausted and spent, but we pushed on.

 

A Summer in Review (Continued) 

 

More about Hunter.

 

A Super Busy Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo Hi Everyone!

 

Sorry it’s been so long since I lasted posted, but I have had a super busy summer. Here’s just a little taste at some of the things I did:

 

1. The week after finals, the Class of 2016 participated in 100th week. This marks the halfway point of our time here at the Academy. Cape May Company Commanders come to the Academy and remind us of what it feels like to be a swab and teach us ways to instruct our swabs to prepare them for the Coast Guard. At the conclusion of this week, we officially became 2/c cadets.

 

2. I also took my Rules of the Road (ROTR) test. Every 2/c has to take a weeklong course explaining the rules that ships have concerning right of way. So, it’s basically like a driving test – but for boats. For example, sailboats have right of way over powerboats. We also had to memorize all the lights that different types of boats have. At the end of this week, we took a 50 question test, that in order to pass we must earn a 90%.

 

3. After these two weeks, I participated in Summer Ocean racing again. This year, we competed in the Newport-Bermuda Race. The race took us five days to complete due to the lack of wind for the majority of the race. This was an amazing experience and I had a lot of fun.

 

4. The final thing I did this summer was cadre duty. The last three weeks of the summer I was a waterfront cadre. This consisted of me training the swabs how to sail every day. At night, I joined Foxtrot and acted as Swab Summer cadre. It was in these three weeks that I learned how to lead a group of swabs. This proved to be a lot harder than I would have imagined. We had to explain to this group of people how the Coast Guard and the Academy worked and prepare them for the school year. Being a cadre was one of the most rewarding things I have done at the Academy – being able to say that I helped train a new class that will, in four years, become CG officers.

 

This is just a small taste of what I did this summer. And now I’m ready to get back to school. This semester, I look forward to taking more of my major specific classes and well as being an MAA for Foxtrot Company. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Kayla.M.Ellis@uscga.edu.

 

More about Kayla.

 

But It Won’t Be Long, ‘Til I Get on Back Home

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo Swab Summer was rough the first time around, but it was definitely even more difficult the second round as a cadre. After many weeks of preparation, I began my cadre experience on 20 July relieving my classmates who had been Cadre 1, or trainers for the first three weeks in this circumstance. After just three days, I had lost my voice from a combination of illness and loudly trying to direct the swabs and by the fourth day had to correct behaviors of some swabs with the voice of others. A week of rest at another training program came and went while the newest members of Delta Company sailed aboard the Eagle. When I made the trip up to Maine to meet the swabs for the return, I felt just as drained as when they had left. And somehow that feeling continued, that exhaustion, that fast pace, that cyclic behavior that some people can only describe as insanity.

 

The cadre experience was not without purpose however; I learned more about my personal leadership style in those three weeks than I have my entire cadet career. As cadre, like with my peers, I discovered that I struggle with public speaking even with positional power. I found out that even though I have different interests than my classmates, most of us came to the Academy for the same reasons and have the same goals in mind. And I learned that while I might not be able to form a perfect mentor/mentee relationship with every one of the 32 swabs in Delta, if they were willing to listen and I was a persistent teacher, I could pass on the skills others had taught me.

 

There were dozens of rewarding experiences sprinkled throughout cadre summer to offset the challenges, such as running to morning calisthenics in the dark with a flood warning in effect. Just a few were opportunities like running the PFE with a swab and being able to coach her alongside another cadre and her classmates – she ran the mile and a half nearly three minutes faster than the previous time. Then reassuring a swab to step off the high dive in the pool while treading in the water below with a lifeguarding tube – he jumped three times that morning. And showing the swabs of Delta how to retire the colors, particularly dress ship flags posted on the football field, as a team they ceremoniously lowered 26 signal flags on the Coast Guard’s birthday with my guidance.

 

Some cadre considered the summer simple. Being given positional power is a great tool and can lead to very effective transformation of behaviors. But to develop the swabs and truly instill the character traits of a Coast Guard officer required personal leadership for me. As the capstone event of the summer came to a close, I had the opportunity to lead some of the last cadences with my company. I chose an Army cadence “Get on Back Home” which I had learned before coming to the Academy and then again as a swab myself. It reminded me that the cadre experience was not simple for me, but well worth the journey to travel full circle and keep pushing until I get on back home.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Here Again?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Effendi Photo On the great WIX-327 yet another summer, but this time I chose to be there. I had a lot to debate before submitting my choices for my 2/c summer cadre slate. Should I put in for CGAS cadre because I was in the program years before? Should I go for Swab Summer cadre to breakdown the incoming Class of 2018? In the end I chose Eagle, and I had plenty reason to. Eagle gives cadets the best opportunity to prepare for the future.

 

In the preparation week for Eagle cadre, we utilize simulators to prepare for navigation team assignments and give navigation briefs to officers and classmates. On Eagle we have our own division, our own watches, and our own collaterals. Also we have the benefit of giving most swabs their first ever sea-going experience, while also teaching them many skills that they will need in the future. Not to mention that Eagle will be stopping in Bourne, Massachusetts during Sailfest and Rockland, Maine during Lobsterfest, but those are just added perks. Yes, this will be my third summer in a row being on Eagle but I know that this experience will aid in my development as a leader more than any other experience offered for 2/c summer.

 

More about Ardy.

 

Looking Back on the Summer So Far

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Okay, so I guess I should take a deep breath and remember all that I have done this summer. Although it seems to be a bit of a blur, I can say that it has been the busiest, most rewarding, and, yes, fun summer thus far. I started in the range, ending my first week with a sharpshooter ribbon for pistol shooting (who knew that the cheerleader could pick up a gun for the first time and shoot five points away from expert?!) Actually, to backtrack, my summer started officially at home for three weeks of leave, but it seems so distant and disconnected from my Connecticut summer that it’s easy to forget. I passed my ROTR test, Rules of the Road that is, after range (I tell my friends back home that it is like drivers ed but for boats). To pass the test, everyone needs a 90%, so the whole week is dedicated to taking practice tests and studying. Next came prep week, and as a waterfront cadre, I spent the week learning how to teach swabs how to sail and familiarizing myself with the sailboats and the small motor boats used by the cadre to corral the sailing swabbies. Now I am about to finish my week of T-boats, which is basic ship handling. We spent the week anchoring, docking, and practicing man overboard drills on unlucky life rings. Next week starts the end of my summer: coastal sail, where I will tour the coast of New England on a 44-foot sailboat with my fellow cadre.

 

It may seem that I left out the bit about Swab Summer (my memoir of a waterfront 1 cadre) but I have to admit that I missed a month of my summer training due to medical reasons and so my cadre experience and flight experience week were both casualties. The worst feeling was that my cadre section was doing things, training, having fun with each other at school. I guess one good thing about missing so much of my summer is that I realized how much I loved my school, my friends, and my adventures! It seemed to get real for me, missing out, how much I really wanted to be in the Coast Guard. And I think that when I had this revelation, many other of my classmates had opposite ones. Several of my classmates have left. It’s hard to see them leave but now is the time that we start tasting leadership, responsibility, and are expected to uphold the standards. Sorry that I have been a bit long-winded, but I just wanted to say that starting my third year here (as a 2/c), I am very excited to lead my peers and shipmates, to be on boats, and to make the world a better place through the Coast Guard even more so than I was the day I arrived on R-Day.

 

More about Lucy.