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cadet blogs

Got That Summertime Madness

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo I’ve spent a solid fifteen minutes trying to come up with an exciting, eye-catching opening sentence for this entry. I’m supposed to write about how my summer is going so far, so I guess I’ll just get right into it before my laptop overheats. Here’s a short timeline of my summers here at the Academy:

 

2012: I come up for the AIM program, just for kicks.

2013: I come up again for CGAS, because, why not?

2014: Swab Summer. (Welp, too late to back out now.)

2015: Five weeks on the beautiful Barque Eagle, five weeks on the mystifying USCGC Mellon.

2016: Cadre summer…wow, I am getting old.

 

I was on pretty good terms with my age until I realized that I’m turning 22, while some of the swabs will still be 17. I’ll be starting a retirement plan soon. But, I digress. Cadre summer is the bridge between being a follower and leader here. It’s more than screaming at kids and doing push-ups, especially if you’re Eagle cadre. That’s right—tomorrow I’m going to be on the USCGC Barque Eagle for the third summer in a row! While it definitely wasn’t my preferred assignment, I’ve come to terms with my fate and have accepted it. On the bright side, our cadre section is made up of some amazing people and we’re definitely one of the more close-knit sections. The role as Eagle cadre is different because you’re more of a mentor than a drill instructor. We teach the swabs basic seamanship and how to interact with the crew, as well as give them a taste of what their 3/c summer will be like. It’s new, it’s an adventure in itself, and I’m actually a little more excited about it after writing this entry.

 

More about Olivia.

 

The Eagle’s “Barque” is Worse Than It’s Bite

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King PhotoEagle was awesome. It really was. Before going, I was worried that it was going to be miserable. We were sailing across the North Atlantic, one of the wildest routes for weather. I’m glad I was wrong. I had so much fun, and did so many things, that it was one of the best adventures of my life. I’d like to share my three favorite experiences.

 

1. The Ocean Itself – The ocean is big, very big; that’s what I’ve learned. There were weeks when we didn’t see any sign of another boat. It was simply amazing feeling so small. We saw pods of dolphins, HUGE great white sharks, and a basking shark. It felt like the sea had no end. At night, it was even better—dolphins swimming in water florescent from the algae and the sky was pure stars. We saw sunrise at 3 in the morning and sunsets at 10 at night. It was very humbling.

 

2. Making Friends – I got to meet so many of my classmates on Eagle. The way Eagle is designed is that you are given opportunities to interact with people you haven’t met in other situations. I sanded, scrubbed, mess-cooked, cleaned, did damage control, shot stars, and checked oil levels with so many new people and made a lot of friends. Even when we were doing some of the less desirable jobs, it was worth it because of the team bonding.

 

3. Climbing the Royals – This had to be my absolute favorite part of the summer. The royals are one of the highest parts of the mast. Climbing them is one of the biggest goals many of the cadets have. To do so is no small task—they are 146 feet above the deck. I was fortunate to climb them six times. The first time was by far the scariest—there was an oncoming squall, the water was rough with wind, and to top it off, it was in the dark. I was so afraid, but somehow found the courage to keep going. My division was incredibly supportive, and together, we finished the job together. After that first time, I couldn’t get enough of climbing. I was able to climb in Ireland, England, and a few more times on the open ocean. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

 

More about Deborah.

 

Prepare to be Unprepared

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo Swab Summer is something everyone forgets the bad from and remembers the good. When I prepared for the infamous Swab summer, I had the worst in mind coming from CGAS. The phrase “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best” does not even do justice to the training swabs go through. No matter the preparation, the simple tasks of Swab Summer often throw wrenches into visions swabs have going into it.

 

Take my summer for example; I went in physically fit; doing push-ups, rowers, flutter kicks, running, and all the other good stuff. But the day after my company got medically cleared and took the PFE, we went on a run in formation and I took a wrong step that sprained my ankle. Not thinking anything of it, I kept going. I was percolating and sprinting with my company for the rest of the morning. I kept this up until I felt a pop and pain seared throughout my ankle to the point of tears. I never could have prepared for the two nights I spent in the ward because the tear in my ligament caused my foot to swell and bruise like a balloon. Neither could I have prepared for the week following, when I tried to make up for my injury’s hindrance by moving as fast or faster than my shipmates doing change remedials, memorizing extra indoc, and putting the extra effort to show an injury would not stop me.

 

The summer will bring events one cannot prepare for in advance, whether an injury, family problems, personal revelations, or even culture shock. The best thing to do is go through it with an open mind, 100 percent effort because cadre can see right through those trying to just get by, and the company of your shipmates.

 

More about Amy.

 

Swab Summer: Ultimately About Teamwork

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo To the Class of 2020,

 

I am already so proud of your accomplishments and perseverance to receive an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy, especially my cadet candidates from last summer. This summer, you are going to embark on the most challenging and rewarding journey of your life to date. Let me assure you, it will be worth it. Swab Summer is meant to test your emotional, physical and mental strength. You won’t be great at everything, and there are some things you may find easy. Make sure to share your strengths with your shipmates and allow your shipmates to share their strengths with you. Swab Summer is ultimately about teamwork; you don’t have to do it alone and you shouldn’t. If you haven’t been practicing push-ups, sit-ups and running, please start now. It will only make the transition to Swab Summer easier. Also, if you are not from a hot and humid climate, be prepared for the Connecticut summers because they can be blistering on some days. Take each day a meal at a time and realize that it is only seven weeks of the four years of training. Just try your best and help your shipmates when you can. Most importantly, there will be at least one person that struggles a lot during these seven weeks. Help that person who is struggling because you are only as strong as the weakest link in your company. Have fun! You are going to meet your best friends in life and make some good memories. Good luck 2020!!!

 

More about Sydney.

 

For What it’s Worth: Advice to the Class of 2020

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo So in about a month, you’ll be reporting in for the beginning of your 200-week Academy experience. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t the best swab to come through this place—in fact, far from it. However, I can tell you now (from the other side) that it will definitely be worth it. However, those weeks will be some of the most difficult you have ever endured. So I’ve got some advice for you:

 

1. Remember that it’s all temporary. There will be pain, and you’ll be stressed, and you’ll be uncomfortable. And when it’s happening, you’ll doubt yourself, and you’ll doubt your shipmates, and you’ll doubt your cadre. But when that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for a reason, your shipmates are too and will always have your back, and that your cadre have been trained and are training you to become members of the Corps of Cadets. Besides, they’re secretly rooting for you to succeed, and everyone else is as well.

 

2. Remember that this is only a small, small part of your Academy experience. For a part of my Swab Summer, I really wanted to quit. I’m not ashamed by the fact because I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way—I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone will feel that way at some point or another. But the sagest piece of advice that I ever got came from an old friend, who told me that the only time you’ll ever regret something is when you don’t see something to completion. And I can assure you that with Swab Summer that is absolutely applicable. It is seven short weeks, and it will be over before you know it.

 

3. Stay true to yourself. Swab Summer is designed to transition you from a civilian to a cadet in the United States Coast Guard, and your cadre will make sure that happens. But you will not be successful if you don’t maintain your individuality. While you will become part of a team with your shipmates who going through the summer with you, remember that it’s ok to be yourself every once in a while. When you can, laugh a little bit. Recognize the positive things that happen every once in a while. And above all, remember that you’re still you.

 

Enjoy the last month you have before your report in. It’s going to be a difficult summer, but a rewarding one. As always, if you have any questions about how you can prepare for the summer or how you can approach the summer, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.