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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Wired and Jubilant

(Athletics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Another week down and I am still trying to orient myself as a 2/c cadet. In my MES classes, in the cheer team, and in fall lacrosse! Each day is a whirlwind and even though a little windblown, I am having a lot of fun. We just had our biggest football game of the season: MMA, and I have to say it was unforgettable. For my past two games, we have been close, but not close enough to taking a stand against the Mariners. For the past two years, the pep rallies have meant well and the crowd has wanted to be rowdy and supportive and energized, but we have always seemed to fall short. This year though, the stars have aligned. We had a surprisingly fun pep rally, “rave” complete with black lights, strobe lights, fog, and glow sticks, the crowd was crazy and joyous, pumped for a number of reasons. The following days were full of spirit and we prepared for the game Saturday, determined to break the losing streak. The Bears came out strong but we had fallen behind by two touchdowns by the end of the first half. The cheerleaders led the crowd in chants and the entire corps remained focused and hopeful. Finally, we found our groove, the team scored, the fans wild, inspired by our Commandant, Admiral Z doing pushups beside the cheer leaders. I think the best part the game came in the form of a steady rain. The fans took it, in their tropical blue uniforms as if it was supposed to happen. With each success on the field came the explosion of confetti cannons and cheering, so much cheering. Toward the end, the crowd was dumping water bottles on themselves invincible to the rain and the water, completely wired and jubilant.

 

I didn’t even mind that I had night watch; I took a three hour nap and stood watch from midnight to 0400. On Sunday I did homework, helped with the Special Olympics event and then went to yoga! I’d say that all of my weekends have been that busy, throwing me full speed and accelerating through the school weeks.

 

More about Lucy.

 

Rest of 2/c Summer and USNA Beginning

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Greetings! Hopefully as your summer draws to an end and you begin to return to school you can look back on the amazing things that you did this summer – I know I certainly can.

 

After my first seven weeks of summer training at the Academy I came home for a deserved three weeks of leave. It was great being home, catching up with friends and family, and relaxing before beginning the 2nd half of my summer training.

 

When I returned to the Academy in mid-July, Swab Summer was already in full effect. It was definitely a new experience returning to Chase Hall and hearing swabs sounding off and running down the passage-ways. It was also quite the experience adapting to the challenge of having to avoid swabs during my prep week of cadre training, as the swabs were not supposed to know who the Eagle cadre were. As mentioned earlier, I had opted to be an Eagle cadre for Swab Summer, which meant that I would have the privilege to train the swabs on America’s Tall Ship, the USCGC Eagle, introducing many of them to their first taste of underway life and to the operational Coast Guard fleet.

 

As an Eagle cadre, my “prep” week was a little different than the majority of my classmates. Instead of learning how to properly encourage the swabs/AIMsters/cadet candidates through physical IT (like push-ups) or sounding off (yelling), my fellow Eagle cadre and I practiced the navigational skills that we had learned in our first two years of the Academy – including giving navigation briefs, using mobility boards, and practicing the role of a Conning Officer in the Academy’s simulators. We also got the opportunity to go to Mystic Seaport for a day. The Seaport is a local historical site that mimics a 19th century New England waterfront community. While there we learned more about sailing as well as celestial navigation and the various celestial phenomena. Lastly, during my “prep” week I took my physical fitness exam and my Standard Operating Procedure board to ensure that when I returned to the Academy after my two weeks aboard Eagle I could serve as an active cadre within Chase Hall.

 

Rest of 2/c Summer and USNA Beginning (Continued)  PDF 

 

More about James.

 

Back-to-School Blues Following an Incredible Summer

(Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Back-to-School Blues: (Noun) The act of going back to school when all you really want to do is go to the beach, soak up some rays, and forget that school even exists for the time being.

 

Unfortunately, the back-to-school blues are a very real thing here at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The whole corps of cadets is lucky to participate in different summer training schedules every year and we are always upset when our time comes to an end. But before I jump into how sad I am that the school year is starting, why don’t I tell you a little bit about what my 2/c summer had to offer.

 

As a 2/c at the Academy, everyone is required to be a cadre in some shape or form. And before you ask, not every cadre is some mean, yelling 20-something year old, making the incoming freshman do push-ups or as we like to call it, “push deck.” There are several types of cadre including: Swab Summer, AIM, CGAS, Eagle, and the best one – Waterfront. I was lucky to be chosen as a waterfront cadre this summer where I spent my days teaching the swabs anything and everything that had to do with sailing. Being a cadre for three weeks was definitely a learning experience not only for the swabs, but for the cadre as well.

 

However, the highlight of my summer came from the Coastal Sail Training Program. In this program, groups of six to eight cadets and one to two safety officers are assigned a yacht and a port call schedule for about eight days and the cadets are in charge of sailing to each destination every day. Not only is this program a learning experience for leadership and followership, but it was also so much fun! We sailed to places that I have never been to before including: Block Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and other famous places in New England. This was a great way for everyone to be able to bond with their classmates and learn more about each other, while also learning more about nautical science.

 

Of course there were many other things I had a chance to do this summer including getting my pistol marksmanship (and shooting a gun for the first time), becoming Rules of the Road qualified which is a test every cadet must get a 90% on before they graduate, becoming proficient at driving the T-boats down at waterfront, and also spending at week at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City where we learned more about the aviation side of the Coast Guard. Also, on my three weeks of leave in the beginning of the summer, I got to spend a week in California visiting my best friend who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and also spent a week in Virginia Beach with my family.

 

Needless to say I had a very busy, but interesting summer this year so I am very sad to see it come to an end. However, I decided to try out for the women’s varsity soccer team this year instead of run cross country so I am excited to see how our soccer team does this year! School on the other hand…that’s a different story.

 

As always if you have any questions about anything feel free to email me! Samantha.E.Corcoran@uscga.edu.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Cadre Summer: Coastal Sail

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hey there CGA blog readers. As promised, I said I would write a blog about my coastal sail experience. Coastal Sail is a program with two objectives in my mind. First, we have to learn how to sail a 44-foot sail boat on our own. Second, we have to learn the most difficult type of leadership: leading peers.

 

The Coastal Sail program is two weeks long. The first few days are spent learning how to set sails, what lines control what, how to moor up to and depart from a dock, and recover a man overboard. Also, we load on all of the food we will need for the voyage. After that, we set sail. The voyage is from the Academy to Block Island, Block Island to Falmouth, Massachusetts, Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket, Nantucket to Hyannis, Hyannis to Woods Hole, Woods Hole to Newport, Newport to Stonington, and Stonington to the Academy. As you can see, we sailed a lot. We pulled into a different port every day, so we never had to sail at night, and we got to see some of every port.

 

I can’t say I had a favorite port. Every one of them was unique and cool. I’ve been to some of those places before, but seeing the marina side was totally different. I loved walking around the piers, seeing the different types of boats and people. I spent every port call with my buddy doing pretty much the same routine. We go for a run first to get a sense of the scene. Then we would walk around looking for ice cream spots and people watching. After we got ice cream, we would check out the boats, talk about the ones we would want, and imagine a life with enough money to afford some of the gigantic yachts we would see. I had a ton of fun in port, and my “routine” is a little bit of an oversimplification, but it makes the point.

 

My true passion during the trip was sailing. I had never sailed before Coastal Sail but I developed a passion for it. I didn’t learn everything there was to know about sailing a boat by the end, but I learned a ton. My passion underway was below decks doing navigation. I liked trying to figure out the optimal course to make us go faster, while trying to keep us in the relative direction we wanted to be going. My most memorable experience underway was sailing from Hyannis to Woods Hole. We were in 20 knots of wind and high seas. Everyone that went below decks was getting sea sick from the rolls, and we were heeled over almost thirty degrees. I spent about three to four hours below deck making sure we weren’t going to run aground, because we were transiting through a lot of shallow water, and with the wind and rolls it was hard to stay on course. It was a rough day. I have no idea how I didn’t get sea sick. But, we ended up making it safely to Woods Hole, so I felt like my efforts were worth it.

 

My leadership developed even more during coastal sail. I had two main lesson learned. First, leadership can be simplified down to accomplishing the mission and motivating people. Most people can tell someone else to do something that needs to be done, but that is only half of leadership. The other half is people. You have to be able to motivate people to want to do their job, and you have to take care of your people. If you can accomplish the mission and if you can figure out how to motivate your people, you will be a great leader. The second lesson I learned was more about what attributes people use to lead. For instance, one of my friends on my boat came into the program knowing how to sail. He had what is called expert power. His knowledge of sailing helped him to lead the rest of us because we didn’t know what we were doing for the first few days. Even after that, we still looked to him for his advice on specific sailing maneuvers. There are many other types of leadership. I’ve seen good leaders and I’ve seen bad leaders. As a result, I’ve tried to make myself the best leader I can be by reading books and reflecting on my experiences.

 

In the end, I loved Coastal Sail. I had a ton of fun, and I learned a lot. I would go again in a second. Looking back over the whole summer, I grew tremendously. That is a testament to the Academy as a 200-week leadership development program – it really works.

 

More about Hunter.

 

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.