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cadet blogs

The Skier

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Culp Photo As I shuffled my way back up to the rope tow that would drag me to the top of the hill at the base of the beautiful Alps, two words resounded in my head: this stinks. I had a pair of skis strapped to my feet for the first time during the Glee Club trip to Germany and could not for the life of me figure out why this sport is so popular here at the Academy. I was getting increasingly frustrated as the lesson went on and I was unable to successfully stop or turn on my left leg (yes, only my left). Then, eventually, everything began falling into place, and while I was far from being accomplished, I could at least make it down the hill without plowing over any children or the instructor in the process. That’s when it occurred to me – going through the Academy follows the same pattern as my ski lesson that morning. When you first sign up, it’s such an exciting opportunity! You get your gear and make plans for when you’ll report to the slopes, eagerly awaiting your training. Then, you finally meet up with your instructor and suddenly all that confidence you had goes away. Your skis feel awkward on your feet, you are tired from dragging yourself up that silly hill over and over and you fall. Constantly. And sometimes, you have to rely on someone to help you stand back up. Even after you’ve been taught the basics, you continue to have issues with actually executing the skills and keeping up with the people around you. You feel like you are falling farther and farther behind; then, things start to come together. You start figuring out where you are going wrong, and with patience, you fix those areas. Before you know it, you are zipping down that hill like you’ve been on those skis forever, and by golly, you might even be able to teach someone else the skills you’ve learned.

 

That’s pretty much the journey from Swab Summer to the school year in a nutshell. And frankly, a lot of it is tough. Chances are you’ll fall down MANY times, no matter how confident you are at the beginning, particularly during a grueling Swab Summer. It is then that your shipmates will pull you back up and that you will in turn lend them your hand when they fall. Then together, you will move on to the more advanced slopes, with even more turns and steeper hills, and even more chances to fall. The good thing about that is the increased number of opportunities to recover and learn.

 

As a rising 2/c, I am thrilled to be in the part of the ski story when I get to put those blasted mechanisms of gravity-related mockery on someone else’s feet and guide them down the slope. I only hope they don’t fall quite as often as I did over the summer! To the future cadets of the Academy, and especially to my swabs, the Class of 2019, I wish you the best of luck as you start gathering your gear for a long day in the snow.

 

More about Abby.

 

What’s Coming Up

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo Second semester is an exciting time for cadets. As the snow melts and days grow longer, things start to come together in Chase Hall. We find out what we will be doing for our summer training programs: 1/c are given their billets, 2/c get their class rings, 3/c prepare to become cadre, and 4/c earn carry-on. On April 6, we will switch to our short-sleeve uniforms. It is a sign that we are close to the end of the school year.

 

This winter has been long and cold, so it is especially exciting to hear about our summer assignments. Each year, cadets have 11 weeks of training and three weeks of leave. Whereas the other summers include only one or two five to seven week training experiences, 2/c summer is composed of several one to three week training experiences.

 

The first week of my summer training, I will be going through 100th week. This marks my class being halfway through our time as cadets. Chiefs come up to the Academy from Cape May to act as our cadre, remind us of Swab Summer and train us to become cadre. After that, I’ll have three weeks of leave to go home and see my family. The next weeks are comprised of T-boat training, Rules of the Road, range week (shooting), and air station training, each for one week; coastal sail on the other hand is two weeks. At the end of the summer, I will serve as cadre for the Class of 2019. I will have one week of prep and then three weeks on Eagle. I requested to be Eagle cadre because I want the swabs to enjoy their first time sailing on America’s tall ship. I loved Eagle over Swab Summer. It gave me an appreciation of all the sailors who have come before me and the history and culture of sailing. I am looking forward to teaching others what I’ve learned.

 

Throughout the summer, I plan to update my blog with stories from each of these training programs. As always, if you have any questions, please email me at Sarah.R.Ritchie@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sarah.