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cadet blogs

Swab Summer: One Day at a Time

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo Dear Families of 2021,

 

How’s it going? Are you still adjusting to Swab Summer? It’s an intense seven weeks for sure. I am writing this at the beginning of the second week. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a week! Swab Summer flies by faster than you think.

 

Some advice for both the parent and swab is to take it one day at a time. If you look at it as seven weeks, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Break it into manageable chunks, sometimes you just got to make it to the next meal. One thing I told myself is that anyone can do anything for five minutes, and just make there.

 

Another piece of advice to both is that the swabs are in good hands. Today, I was sailing by Jacob’s Rock and saw the waterfront cadre in action. They were very professional and created an engaging learning environment. I know in Chase, the cadre are more focused on the military and teamwork aspects.

 

To the parents, don’t be worried if your swab’s letters are brief. In the beginning, it’s usual for the letters to be short. However, toward the end of the summer, they’ll get longer and a bit more upbeat as they learn time management and get used to Swab Summer.

 

To the swabs, realize that the cadre were once in your position. Only two short years ago, I was marching around and sounding off with the rest of them. I squared my meals, I pushed deck, and I was far from perfect. Cadre are human too, and I can guarantee you that they made the same mistakes you are making.

 

Finally, don’t forget to laugh. I know that sometimes it’s hard but keep a positive attitude. You’re going to fail, but you’re also going to get back up.

 

Last year, I wrote an article on advice for Swab Summer. Here is the link: http://uscga.edu/blog.aspx?id=65657.

 

Very Respectfully,
2/c Deborah King

 

More about Deborah.

 

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.

 

Advice for 2021 and 2022

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Purrington Photo Wow. It’s been too long since I sat down and blogged. Life here really flies by.

 

Cadet for a Day season is upon us again! (This is a program that invites prospective cadets to tour the Academy with a cadet for an entire day in order to see what USCGA is like before coming here.) Seeing all these young men and women has made me think about how useful I found the blogs when I was in high school, which reminded me I should blog, which made me think of a few things I have to pass on to all ye prospective cadets.

 

Class of 2021 

 

  • It’s gonna be hard. It’s different as your support system is ripped out from under you, everything is new and exciting and kind of frightening and you can’t even look around. It’s worth it and it will get better. Swab Summer feels like an eternity but try to remember what a small portion of the Academy experience it is. You will wake up some mornings and want to leave. Don’t. You made it in and you’re tough enough to handle this place.

  • You may not see it but your cadre cares. You matter to them. They love their jobs passionately and training you is their job. They will not baby you and they will not make it easy, but they will be rooting for you even when it seems like they’re not. 2019 is full of some of the most awesome, dedicated people who cannot wait to make you all great shipmates.

  • Do your job. There will be mornings, even during the school year, that you’ll be so tired you won’t want to get out of bed or be able to remember how excited you were to get to come here. It sucks. Get up anyway, square your corners, do your job and do it with as much fake enthusiasm as you can. Fake it until you become it; I’ve found that if you do that, usually, by the end of breakfast, you feel eight million times better. If you can pretend you’re doing great, even when you feel awful, more likely than not some upperclassman will say or do something that makes you feel less like dirt. From personal experience, I can tell you that without fail, every time I am struggling and nothing seems to be going right, someone from my company does or says something – and it could be as small as greeting me by name in the passageway – that helps turn my day around. Make it easy for your shipmates to do this for you; do your job and fake it ‘til you become it.

  • Start getting ready physically for Swab Summer and have fun with your family and friends. I think particularly for those of us who do not live in New England, the last time you will ever get to spend a good amount of quality time with your friends and family is before you report in. Hang out with your friends, but also hang out with your family. I know it may not seem like the coolest thing to do, but especially if you have siblings at home, this is the last time you may ever get to spend a lot of time with them and likely the last few months you’ll ever live together. Go see a few movies together, go to the beach (when it gets warmer!), or an amusement park, or see a concert. Make some good memories and take some pictures while you’re doing so.

 

Class of 2022 (AIMsters) 

 

  • Get to know your cadre. They’re scary. I was an AIMster too, trust me, I know. I was terrified of my AIM cadre, but it’s worth getting to know them and staying connected with them. This year, I was lucky enough to be in the same company I was in for AIM. Last semester, my division officer was my AIM division officer. I was fortunate that he remembered me because I didn’t make any effort to stay in contact with him or any of my other AIM cadre. I wish I had. They’re awesome people and they were rooting for me all the way. My fall division officer is easily one of best leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working for and he will be an amazing officer come May. I got lucky being in his division as well as being in Bravo for AIM and 4/c year because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten to know the amazing firsties who were my AIM cadre. Don’t leave that to chance like I did, stay connected with them after AIM.

 

Anyway, hope you guys found something useful that you could take away from this post. As always, feel free to email me with any questions!

 

4/c Darden Purrington
Kathlene.D.Purrington@uscga.edu

 

More about Darden.

 

Dear Class of 2021

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo First off, congratulations on receiving your appointment and on deciding to come to the Academy. As Swearing-In Day gets closer, the excitement of receiving your appointment has probably transformed into nerves for Swab Summer to come; so, here are my tips for your summer ahead.

 

Don’t try to find or get the Running Light ahead of time. Trust me; you will have plenty of time to learn it this summer and during 4/c year. Spend the time between now and Swearing-In Day with your family and friends.

 

Come in mentally and physically ready. I usually recommend that you are able to do 30 minutes of running, upper body, lower body, and abs. If you can hit that mark great, if not, don’t let it ruin the rest of the time you have left at home with stress. The more important thing is that you can push yourself and never quit. A large part of Swab Summer is learning how to deal with failure and high-stress situations. Come in knowing that you’re not perfect, you are going to fail and that is okay. Learn from it and move on.

 

Don’t take things personally; this goes with being mentally prepared. Nothing your cadre do will be personal. There needs to be a drastic transformation in a relatively short amount of time and this requires all discrepancies to be addressed immediately. We are simply trying to get the action up to standard. People who take corrections personally and let them fester usually have a rougher time during the summer than those who learn the lesson and move on.

 

Ask your friends and family to write to you and send care packages. Getting mail during Swab Summer is super motivating. When my parents sent me mail during my Swab Summer, they would write corny jokes on the card. It is something little but it helped me a lot. Also, tell your parents to send you food if they can. You will be given enough time to eat and as much food as you want, but, as a swab you’re constantly moving so you’re constantly hungry.

 

Females, practice putting your hair up in a bun. Don’t cut your hair within two weeks of Swab Summer to give you a chance to get used to dealing with it. Bring extra hair ties and hair gel. If you think hair ties disappear fast at home, you’ll be amazed at the rate they go missing during Swab Summer.

 

Enjoy the time you have between now and swearing in. I know anticipating the summer is stressful but try to relax and enjoy this time. The summer will come and go; it is only seven-weeks out of your 200-week experience at the Academy. Your cadre are there to help you become a basically trained military member and an effective 4/c cadet. Believe it or not, we want you to succeed and complete the summer. We were in your shoes not too long ago.

 

If you have any other questions please feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu. I know most bloggers put this at the end of their entries, but we mean it. We volunteer to write these blogs because we remember how much they helped us when we were in your shoes so please do feel free to reach out, whether you’re in 2021 or not, we want to help you.

 

More about Jill.