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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

New Year, New Responsibilities

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Schroeder Photo The new school year has finally started and I couldn’t be busier. After a seemingly short summer, this past month has been a blur. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to do a bunch of really cool things; my favorite being the Cadet Aviation Program (CATP), and the Coastal Sail Program.

 

For the CATP, I got to fly down to Elizabeth City, North Carolina for a week and ride on Coast Guard aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary. I also had the opportunity to get hoisted from the water into a helicopter, which is easily the coolest opportunity I have gotten while at the Academy.

 

The Coastal Sail Program is a two week transit on a 44-foot sailing yacht around New England to places such as Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Cape Cod and Nantucket. I was on a boat with seven of my classmates and a safety officer. This trip taught me a lot about leadership and what kind of leader I wanted to be because of the high amount of exposure to peer leadership. It was really cool to be sailing around New England and stop in such cool places as well.

 

The biggest thing of second class summer though is being cadre. I got to be Swab Summer cadre second phase, which was both tiring and rewarding. It served as a good transition into the school year because this fall I am my company’s guidon. The company guidon is basically the senior second class in charge of the training of the fourth class over the semester. Being Swab Summer cadre allowed me to get to know each of my fourth class very well, which has helped this semester.

 

Besides being guidon, I am very busy with my own academics and with rugby. This year is my major’s toughest year, and I am still trying to find a balance between school, sports, being guidon, and having a social life. Things are getting better each week though, and I am generally content with how life is going. I know that this semester will be very rewarding for me.

 

More about Jade.

 

Fifteen Things I Didn't Expect to Learn at West Point

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Frost Photo Going on exchange to another service academy is a unique opportunity that I'm lucky to get to experience. After six weeks of being at West Point, I've finally settled into a schedule with classes and grown closer with the triathlon team. Here are some things that I've learned and experienced over the past several weeks:

 

  1. At less than 5,000 cadets, West Point would be considered a small college to anyone, but it still seems ginormous to a Coastie. And, when everyone asks what the biggest difference between West Point and Coast Guard, the answer is the size every time.
  2. Thinking that because you are just one in a sea of 4.5 thousand, no one will notice you is the biggest lie you could tell yourself because navy blue ODUs do not blend in at all with Army green ACUs. You can be pinpointed from a mile away.
  3. Submersing yourself in a new environment is more challenging than expected, and it gives you a renewed understanding for what the 4/c are going through.
  4. No one understands how you talk; they don't understand your saltiness. The "deck" becomes merely the floor, "p-ways" are hallways, "bulkheads" are hallways, and "shipmates" are battle buddies.
  5. Everything has an acronym, and it's impossible to keep track of them.
  6. People will and do look at you like you have two heads for saying "Bears!" And "Go Bears!" to everything, and it's impossible to explain what needs no explanation to any CGA cadet.
  7. All 2/c cadets a called "cows." It's weird.
  8. You salute without a cover on in the Army and in both gym gear and cadet casual (a.k.a. rec gear).
  9. People will ask you what branch you are going into, and they are blown away when you say your options are flight school, deck watch officer, engineering officer in training, or sector. You quickly learn it's not worth trying to explain that it's not really "branching" like it is in the Army.
  10. Everyone thinks that "The Guardian" is representative of the entire Coast Guard, and they ask you every time if you're going to be Ashton Kutcher.
  11. You will spend all your money at Starbucks and the cadet restaurant, especially if you live closer to it than the mess hall, like me.
  12. Optional breakfast is the greatest thing a cadet could ask for, and West Point does it right. We're talking Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, Nutella, Starbucks iced and hot coffee... It's good. However, you will quickly miss the wardroom dinner selection.
  13. A lot of really awesome speakers come to talk to cadets almost every week, and they are opportunities that you want to take advantage of.
  14. There are so many club sports teams and clubs to join. Joining the triathlon team here has been my best decision yet. You meet amazing people that are completely welcoming to exchangers, and it gives you a close-knit group to experience the semester with.
  15. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn how you handle change when you feel like you're the only one going through it, you learn what a different service values compares to the Coast Guard, and compared to your own, you learn how to lead others when you still need guidance yourself, and you learn how to learn from those whom you lead.

 

More about Christi.

 

A Month In

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Daniels Photo Here we are, already over a month into the school year, looking at being halfway done with many of our books. Looking at the semester so far, there’s one leadership trait I know I’m lacking, especially in those early mornings. Being an approachable 3rd class cadet is one of the most important things you can be. The new 4th class need people to look to for answers, and if you aren’t able to be there, then they lack that figure. I’m trying to make myself more approachable so that I can be of the most use, starting with my outlook on the day.

 

Something that carried over from last year for me was the stigma that each day would drag on and on, and there was not much to look forward to except sleeping the next night. I’ve changed that, and realized that within every day there are opportunities to make it better, enjoying the little things in each day, and being cheerful when responding to the monotonous greetings, inquiring about anyone’s day in a sincere fashion goes a long way here.

 

As winter approaches, it seems that the corps knows what’s coming, the feet of snow, bridgecoats and parkas, and sliding on the ice all the way down the hill. While we may not be able to run around and have all-out snowball wars, the crisp air brings on a feeling of anticipation, not just for the end of drill season, but also for the new year. Even though it’s a few moths still to come, the anticipation is growing. Graduation for some, boards and carry-on for others, new rooms, new roommates, and new classes. Until next time!

 

More about Drew.

 

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.

 

What We Really Did on Eagle

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo This summer, I had the opportunity to sail through the Caribbean on America’s Tall Ship. The first five weeks of summer I spent on Eagle with about 150 of my classmates and around 50 permanent crew members. (That’s a lot of people for only 295 feet of ship.) We got on board the day after the last final, and immediately started working. We loaded tons of food into the storage areas and then set sail.

 

While on Eagle, my shipmates and I had to work hard to earn sign-offs and qualifications. We were given packets at the beginning of the summer with lists of tasks to complete. Once we completed a task, a person qualified in that area would initial that we’d done so far. Once we had all the sign-offs for a category, we could take a board, an oral test, to earn that qualification. We were expected to be helm and lookout and engineering auxiliary qualified by the end of the five weeks. On top of these qualifications, we had several hours of damage control training and were able to take a written test at the end to earn that qualification. Additionally, in the first 11 days, while we sailed from New London to Puerto Rico, we had to memorize the names of all the lines on the ship and parts of a sail. We had to pass these two tests to earn liberty in the first port.

 

It was easy to get bogged down by the workload and close quarters, but I tried to stay positive. I was really looking forward to sailing the Caribbean after a long school year, but when I got to Eagle, I was surprised by all the work I found out we’d have to do between port calls. For the first few days, I was exhausted and not in the best mood, but I realized that my attitude would have to change if I wanted to make it through the summer. I took on a more optimistic approach, thinking about the great port calls that lay ahead and just the pure opportunity of it all. No other college students that I know get to take a five week field trip to amazing vacation spots with 100+ close friends for free. This opportunity was incredible, and I wasn’t going to waste it with any more negativity. When you live so close to so many people, though, their attitudes rub off on you. It became hard to not let other people’s attitude affect my goal to stay positive. I relied on the port calls to keep me going, and they made it all worth it. (See more in my next blog post.)

 

More about Sarah.