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cadet blogs

A Summer Summary

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018, Civil Engineering) Permanent link
Haerr Photo Hi, future cadets!


I’m here to give you a little insight on the four Academy summer experiences. Each summer you will be integrated into the fleet in a different way.


The first summer will be your Swab Summer experience, which provides you the opportunity to gain basic indoctrination knowledge in a high intensity environment. This summer will give you confidence in the skill sets that you already have and attention to the skill sets that still need developing. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do and learn with the help of your shipmates who become like family by the end of it.


The second summer we call “3/c summer” and it is broken into five week and six week programs. One half is spent with half of your classmates on the USCGC Barque Eagle, which is the only commissioned tall ship in the U.S. military. It allows you to experience sailing at on incredible scale, obtain basic qualifications in engineering or deck, and gain basic damage control training. The other half is unique to each of your classmates. You will either go to an active cutter or small boat station in order to learn from the fleet while practicing your military courtesies. I went to the small boat station Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna, Florida. There I learned an incredible amount from the boatswain mates and machinery technicians about splicing lines, chart work, boat checks, and boat driving, all while participating in search and rescue (SAR) cases in the Jacksonville area.


The third summer is called “2/c summer” or commonly referred to as “cadre summer.” It is by far one of the most dynamic summers you will have at the Academy. During this time, you will be with your class the entire summer, which allows you to further create an unbreakable bond with many of your already established friends. You will start with having an intense week being trained by the Cape May Command Cadre on how to be a cadre yourself, and by the end of the week you will say the oath with your class to recommit to two more years at the Academy and five year payback service. You will also gain a basic pistol qualification, test on Rules of the Road (ROTR) course, drive and practice drills on training boats (T-Boats), experience the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP), and have a two-week sailing experience on 44-foot yachts (Coastal Sail). Then, what everyone looks forward to is the three-week cadre experience in support of the Swab Summer, CGAS, or AIM programs. You will transition from a role model to a mentor this summer and realize how far you’ve come when you are giving basic indoctrination to the incoming classes.


The last summer is referred to as “firstie summer.” This is another unique experience based on what you think is your preference is for your first billet after graduation and getting your commission. You have the opportunity to have an 11-week cutter experience, air station experience, or internship with the NSA, Army Corps of Engineers, and other government facilities to utilize the knowledge you have gained within your major. This summer is a lot about learning the different career opportunities in the Coast Guard that you didn’t even know existed. For instance, I learned more about becoming a Coast Guard lawyer, physician assistant, and worked within the Intelligence community, as well as experienced the typical Coast Guard associated jobs on cutters, sectors, and air stations. This summer, I had a five-week internship for my major in Civil Engineering at the Training Center (TRACEN) in Petaluma, California. After being selected for this program, my classmate, Jackie, and I worked on developing a drainage design project for three locations on base and, at the end, we presented our proposal to the command to be implemented. It was a great experience to build upon all that we have been learning about civil engineering these past three years. The last six weeks we were on board the CGC Waesche in Alameda, California. On this 418-foot national security cutter, we learned about how to interact with junior and senior officers, the chiefs, and junior enlisted, as well as gained knowledge and qualifications by being integrated in engineering and deck watch schedules.


As you can see, no summer will be like the other and no cadet will have the same summer experience as you do, but that’s what makes it all the more fun. By the end, you’ll be wishing you got to experience it all over again in order to make that informed decision about where you want to be first stationed come Billet Night.


Good luck with your future endeavors, and please feel free to reach out to me with any other questions.
-1/c Kathryn (Kat) Haerr
USCGA Class of 2018


More about Kathryn.


A Summer Blog from the Last Frontier

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Greetings from Sitka, Alaska, the most beautiful (and rainiest) place on Earth! I know it’s been a little while since my last blog, but this summer has been a whirlwind of exciting travel and new experiences. This past spring I arrived to my first unit, the great Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro in Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak was very cold, very rugged, and very beautiful. Life on the cutter was a unique and interesting experience. The cutter is a 378 foot high endurance cutter that patrols the Bearing Sea and over to Japan. While on board we got to live the junior officer life, helping out with the cutter’s Change of Command ceremony, morale events, preparations to get underway, and much, much more.


After Kodiak, I flew to southeast Alaska to a tiny island town called Sitka for the second half of my summer program. Here in Sitka, I live at the Coast Guard Air Station and work at the Sitka Sound Science Center through an internship provided to me through my major at the Academy (Marine and Environmental Sciences). At the Science Center, myself and the other Academy intern, are working on various research projects, while getting involved in the local community and volunteering at other center’s camps and events. Our time here in Sitka so far has been a blast! Our primary research here has been conducting shellfish surveys for the local tribe in an area crucial for subsistence clamming. We are very excited to be wrapping up this work and have put together a wonderful presentation on the Academy and our time here in Sitka, as well as the results from our surveys and the rest of our research to present to the community tonight at the public library.


I have gone hiking, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, sightseeing, and much more during my time here at the internship. I have seen the most beautiful mountains, sunsets, and wildlife such as eagles, bears and whales! Alaska is such an incredible and amazing place (with the best fresh fish available anywhere) and I would highly recommend visiting! If you are at all interested in the Science Center or the internship you can find us online on Facebook, Instagram or at our website: :)


More about Cece.


The Last Summer as a Cadet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Williamson Photo This summer has been an amazing learning experience! I spent 11 straight weeks on the 270 foot cutter Spencer stationed at Boston, Massachusetts, completing a successful patrol in the north Atlantic. We conducted over 40 boardings of fishing vessels to ensure the sustainability of the New England fisheries, as well as performing a difficult fueling at sea evolution. I was lucky enough to qualify in basic damage control, advanced damage control, and quartermaster of the watch. I got the opportunity to stand Officer of the Deck under instruction and really learn what it means to drive the ship.


Once we pulled into port, I was trusted to plan a retirement for a chief petty officer and act as the master of ceremonies, and it went great! Everyone on the ship taught me a new lesson in one way or another. The officers were always helpful; the crew was welcoming and knowledgeable. When I first reported aboard, I was nervous about being underway, but now I confident I will succeed as an ensign next summer.


As my last summer as a cadet comes to a close, I have had some time to reflect on where I’ve come from and where I am going. It’s been a long and amazing three years to get to this point. There have been highs and there have been lows, but I am proud of how far I’ve come. I have never wanted to take the easy way out and I would recommend the same to anyone reading this. Be hungry for a challenge, put yourself in uncomfortable situations, and go to bed a better person than when you woke up. Of course, you will fail every now and again (trust me I have my flaws) but if you are respectful, sincere, and hardworking, people will advocate for you and you will always recover.


Looking into the future, I am going to enjoy the time I have left at the Academy. I will never again have the opportunity to live 100 feet from some of the greatest people in the world and my best friends. We are going have adventures and laugh a lot! When I ordered my class ring, I had the phrase “Enjoy it while it lasts” engraved on the inside and I stand by those words. If you are anything like me, you are a high school student dying to get into the Academy and reading these blog entries to try to figure out the secret formula required to get accepted. You should continue to pursue that goal, but please enjoy where you are. Don’t miss the people and events happening around you today while you are daydreaming about tomorrow!


More about Cody.


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:


Very Respectfully,
2/c Deborah King


More about Deborah.


A Full Firstie Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Holland Photo Hey everyone!


It's been awhile, but firstie summer is jam-packed with more than I ever thought it could be. I spent the first few weeks in Guantanamo Bay and then on USCGC Forward doing a patrol in the Caribbean. We did helo operations, small boat OPS, and while I was in GTMO I helped transport detainees and drugs. The summer so far has been a very broad view of USCG operations and I have become much better because of it.


Currently, I am the Battalion AIM Officer and am assisting with Swab Summer before the AIMsters arrive. As a member of battalion staff, you have to oversee the cadre and assist in any way possible, including being an expert in whichever field you are in. This summer's battalion staff is a great team, and I am looking forward to the next month of Swab Summer and AIM. Both programs are hard to get into and equally tough while you are a trainee; however, if you really want it, you will make it through. Best of luck to all of you.


Very Respectfully,
1/c Taylor Holland
Battalion AIM Officer


More about Taylor.