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Summers at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

Here is an explanation of how summers work at the United States Coast Guard Academy! I have some extremely talented classmates who have made videos from our summers.


play button WATCH VIDEO


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Eagle

(Class of 2023, Eagle) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

I love Eagle. I absolutely adore the Coast Guard’s 295-foot, barque class tall ship – meaning, a sailing ship with three masts, two of which have square sails, while the third is fore-and-aft rigged. Every officer commissioned into the service since the 1940s has sailed on it, and I glow with pride to have spent even a limited time working on the one-of-a-kind boat. If you are planning on attending the Academy, I would recommend that you approach the Eagle experience with an open mind. There may be nothing else quite like Eagle in the rest of the Coast Guard, but that truth makes time spent on the boat truly a unique opportunity.

There are two tall ships in the U.S. military: USCGC Eagle and the USS Constitution. Given the Constitution’s advanced age (it was commissioned by George Washington before the War of 1812!), Eagle is the only active-duty tall ship in the American seagoing services. Many Coast Guard and Academy practices are steeped in what the CGA mission refers to as “the sea and its lore,” traditions that date back to the golden age of sail, when vessels like Constitution and Eagle made up the Navy and Revenue Cutter Service, the precursor of the modern Coast Guard. Being on Eagle gives context for many customs practiced at the Academy. I also love the feeling of, pre-COVID, giving tours to little kids excited about the “pirate ship” ... which isn’t historically accurate, but it’s always great to see the next generation delighted about boats.

And I saved my favorite part about Eagle for last: the camaraderie. Even if sailing isn’t your jam, it’s a great bonding opportunity. Over Swab Summer, your class will be broken into three groups for Eagle, and over 3/c summer, there are two phases. You’ll be on the boat with a third to a half of your class at any given time. Being on a 295-foot boat with that many people brings its own challenges, but it’s certainly a catalyst for team building. Furthermore, you’ll be assigned to a smaller division to stand watch, and people from my Eagle divos are close friends to this day. Experiences like seeing the milky way at 4 AM, watching dolphins dance in the bow waves, and blasting Elton John while washing dishes are some of my most cherished memories as a cadet, and I’m so thankful for the people I got to share them with. I hope that, like me, you’ll love Eagle, but no matter what, please be openminded to the adventure.

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Summer and Fall Semester Recap

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Eagle, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Amelia Krause

Hey everyone! It has been a very busy start to the school year. The past summer I got to go to San Francisco which was exciting because I never have been to the West Coast. The mentorship there was great as everyone was patient in teaching us and eager to help us learn. I got to know my classmates better during my brief time there and on the Eagle as well. Both were great learning opportunities and time to build upon new friendships. My favorite part of Eagle was doing the swim call, which was an incredible experience I still can’t believe I did. The best way I can describe the water is a Gatorade blue and very salty of course!

Since it is my second year, I am taking more major-specific classes, which are marine biology and oceans. So far they are really interesting and the labs are fun as we get to go outside and do hands on work. I also take golf and badminton classes, which is a nice break during the day!

Running has also been awesome as it’s about the middle of the season and lots of improvement on the team. Some of us were able to compete at Harkness, which is our home meet. It's a flat course and familiar since its one of the places we do our off campus workouts. Even if you aren’t a runner I would recommend checking out the park as it’s a nice place to walk and a small beach as well.

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My Eagle Experience

(Class of 2023, Eagle) Permanent link
Brian Morel

Anyone coming to the Academy for Swab Summer knows that they’re in for a rough seven weeks; however these people are wrong. Six of those weeks are definitely tough; they’re the indoctrination into the Academy. However, one of those weeks is spent on Eagle, the Coast Guard’s tall ship used to train cadets and officer candidates. This week provides a nice break from the toils of Swab Summer, or in my case, a fun trip after the summer is over. One thing that you can say after sailing on Eagle for a week is that probably none of your friends did something that cool in the summer before college. In this blog, I’m going to briefly tell you about my Swab Summer Eagle trip.

Over the summer I was in Zulu 1 platoon, meaning that I was one of the last platoons to go on Eagle. It was challenging to see all the other platoons go on Eagle before mine because we knew they were off sailing and having a good time while we were all still doing push-ups and screaming our heads off. The light at the end of the tunnel was that we knew that we would get all the way through Swab Summer and have a week break on Eagle before starting the school year. After thinking about it, I realized that I preferred for my summer to work out this way. When we finished the summer training with Sea Trials, the entire platoon was eager to get on the bus the next morning and make the trip to Salem, Massachusetts where we would begin our journey.

We arrived in Salem the morning after Sea Trials. The bus ride there was pleasant because I got to talk to my parents and friends on the phone for a few hours. The 20 bucks I paid for a pair of earbuds at the Exchange was super worth it. After loading our stuff onto the ship and packing in, we had a brief introduction to the ship and its crew. Eagle is manned by a full crew of enlisted and officers that help train cadets and sail the ship. In our case they sailed the ship the entire time because we had no idea what we were doing. We were granted liberty and got to enjoy the afternoon in Salem. I got super lucky on Eagle because my division ended up being really small; too small to take duty in port. We were still surprised when we heard that the next day we had a full day of liberty again. After hearing this, my friends and I hatched a plan to take a train to Boston, one of my favorite cities. Having to go out in liberty in uniform gets to be a hassle as one progresses further into 4/c year; however it definitely helped out in Boston. The people there were super supportive of the military, especially the Coast Guard, and we had a great time.

Don’t get me wrong; sailing on Eagle is nothing like a vacation. The time we spent sailing on the ship brought its own challenges, such as waking up at midnight for watches, learning how to plot points on a chart, or shining all the brass on the entire ship. I would say that the most important thing that you learn on Swab Summer Eagle is how to be underway in the Coast Guard. You learn the basics of living and working on a ship, which is important for your greater career in the service.

After sailing for a week, we arrived in New York City. Sailing into New York Harbor was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced, especially as a midwestern landlubber who has never been on a ship at sea. We anchored next to the Statue of Liberty for one night and eventually docked the next day. Taking in the city that night, I knew that the Academy was the right choice for me and I suddenly got really excited for all of the great experiences I’m going to have throughout my career.

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My Swab Summer, in a Nutshell

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link
John Bukowski

Hello all, and welcome to my page! Amidst every other phenomenal thing I’ve experienced thus far in my fledgling cadet life, I am able to voice these moments to those wanting to know more about this adventure. That said, I’d like to christen my first post ever by recapping the big moments from Swearing In Day up to now. As a fourth-class cadet, this is all fresh in my head too.

Looking back on Day 1, I vividly remember how nervous I was. I did my best to channel that energy throughout my body as the morning drew closer. However, the minute I got into that bus, I recall swallowing my fear and feeling ready. When the yelling and the running and the push-ups started, I just accepted it, sounded off, and pushed onward. You get your head shaved, your picture taken, and your phone confiscated, and it was all just part of the game for me. You roll with this process with about 500 people anyway, and that shared memory builds incredibly strong bonds (believe me!). Three weeks later, you know basic military stuff, including how to properly wear the uniforms and greet superiors. As part of the first group aboard USCGC Eagle, we left right from New London to Portsmouth NH, and I can honestly say that was the highlight of the summer, as you’ll probably hear from a lot of cadets. In that single week I witnessed a thunderstorm at sea, saw dolphins and a whale, a perfect panorama of the night sky, and got hands-on hard work with the rigging and basic principles of seamanship. Eagle was especially fascinating to me when I started thinking about applying, and now I’m in love with the ship and cannot wait for my next summer. Returning to the Academy to finish the remaining two weeks was hard as one can imagine, but we as shipmates endured all the way through it and killed it with Sea Trials (a day I could write a book about). That same weekend we got our shoulder boards, moved to our new companies and rooms, and all of a sudden I’m writing about all of it in the middle of October, with the summer heat all gone and the leaves well into changing.

I’d like to put a cap on this post by pronouncing one thing for any potential applicants out there: if you genuinely feel like this is the place for you, then Swab Summer will not be as terrifying as you think it is. I was dreading the day I had to leave home, but soon after found myself thriving in this atmosphere. There were low points, of course, but they are inevitably outweighed by the rewards to come.

If there are any questions, especially those regarding Swab Summer and fourth-class life, reach out to me! As I go through this first year, all the rigors and highpoints of a CGA freshman will be fresh with me, and I’d love to impart the knowledge to those who want it.

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My Eagle Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Eagle, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Greg Costello

Hey Everyone!

School is starting up all around the country and we have just arrived back here at the United States Coast Guard Academy to kick things off for the fall semester! I am excited to be back as this year will be a change from the challenges of 4/c year which, though mentally stressful, are mostly effort based when it comes down to it. I learned many valuable lessons in time management, discipline, and military bearing, but this year is for learning how to act as a role model and eventually a leader.

I wanted to take this time to discuss the first half of my summer (aka First Phase) where I sailed around Europe for give weeks! The weekend after finals, we met our new Eagle divisions which consisted of six 3/c cadets and 1 1/c cadet who served as the division officer. My division was made up of some friends and some cadets who I had rarely encountered. We all got along very well, and before we knew it, we were flying to Germany to meet the USCG Eagle, America’s tall ship. We were bussed up to Kiel where I had liberty the first day and I explored the city on foot, eating ice cream, authentic German food, and I even took a ferry across the harbor to a beachy area where I ate tapas with friends! The area was beautiful, and the people treated us like family, many spoke English and were interested in the amazing trip we had just embarked on.

We sailed for a few days until we reached Copenhagen, Denmark. While we sailed we learned the ins and outs of the ship with our divisions as we prepared to make the boat our home for the foreseeable future. We stood break-in duty watches as we learned how to properly serve as a lookout as well as how to conduct rounds of the boat, checking the various compartments containing wastewater, the engine, the generator and potable water. It seemed we were busy all the time, whether we were shifting the sails to get us moving in the most efficient manner or mass cooking and doing dishes. We slept 15 boys in one berthing area, and it was a challenge to keep everything in that compartment organized.

Arriving in Copenhagen was super difficult because we had to travel down a river for five plus hours, go under multiple bridges with super tall masts, and stay within the channel markers. The margin of error was super thin, but the combination of the crew, cadets, and officers worked like a well-oiled machine getting into the port on time and safely. Copenhagen was truly the bike capital of the world. I traveled around with my friends on foot, went on a run, visited the world-famous gardens Tivoli Gardens, climbed to the top of many buildings, and even visited this amazing aquarium. It was strange having to pay for public bathrooms and for water at restaurants but sometimes you must adapt to the different customs.

The next stop on our journey was Antwerp, Belgium, my favorite stop of the trip. We reached the city after another grueling transit down a river and we tied up on the northern tip of the city. There were tons of old buildings mixed in with high rises. We got free tickets to the zoo and a famous cathedral and traversed the city on foot for two days. I rode a giant Ferris Wheel, ate way too many Nutella covered waffles, and went to a museum that discussed the Red Star Line that transported migrants from Europe to the United States in the 20th century. The day I had in port duty I gave tours and had conversations with tourists from all around the world, some even from the United States who had heard of the ship being in town and wanted to check it out. Interacting with people from all over the place was eye opening, the ship really brought people together and every little kid could not wait to get their picture taken on the bridge.

Our most memorable stop was Rouen, France. There my division and I visited the Normandy Beaches on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I worked onboard the ship for a reception that had the Commandant, Admiral Schultz attending as well as the current Secretary of the Navy. I was able to converse with both and eat amazing food and enjoy a cool evening on the water.

Our final stop on the transit was Cherbourg, France where we took part in a tall ship festival with boats from around the globe. When we arrived, there was a huge Statue of Liberty remake next to our boat! I had in port duty the only day we were there but I still was able to interact with the super kind people of France and I even was able to talk with some fellow sailors who were intrigued by our ship.

All in all, the first phase of my summer was one that I will never forget. I went on countless adventures in foreign cities, tried amazing food, learned new words, made new friends, and learned a ton about sailing along the way. Your time on Eagle is what you make of it, but I found it to be an amazing five week journey that I would not trade for the world.

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Approaching 3/c Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Eagle, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Amelia Krause

It’s only the beginning of April, but I don’t think I have ever been so excited for the school year to end. For starters, I am ready for the conclusion of my fourth class year. I came here as a 4/c not knowing anything and eager to learn everything. During my first semester, my division was in charge of drill which included a great group of people who became my mentors. Then, for my second semester, I have been able to express my creativity through morale activities and have had so many wonderful opportunities. One of my favorite events was making s’mores and I’m looking forward to coordinating the Easter egg hunt. One of my firsties is 1/c Alicen Re who was the former Charlie Company Commander in the fall semester. She is one of the upper class who has always been very encouraging and ready to help.

For my summer assignment, I am eager to share with you the fact that I will be going to San Francisco to board Eagle prior to her voyage to Europe. I have never been to either place so it will be an adventure for sure. I will also get to know my classmates better.

Although I am excited for the academic year to end, I will be sad to see our 1/c leave. I have gotten to know so many in our company as well as on the track team including 1/c Anita Green who is our spring Regimental Commander and just got an 18:10 in the 5K! Time will always pass by, but the memories that you make with people will last.

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A Reflection on Cadet Summers So Far

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Annabella Farabaugh

It’s hard to believe that this will be my third summer as a cadet at the Academy! Swab Summer is the first summer you will experience. For me, it was unlike anything I had ever been through. Looking back on what is learned in those seven weeks (which simultaneously feels like they fly by and like they last an eternity) it’s clear how important it is. Swab Summer really does indoctrinate you into the military. Although there’s hardly any time to think about the growth or transformation you’re undergoing in between the push-ups, shower drills, and squaring, it’s easy to recognize in hindsight. My grandfather was in the military but other than that I had no connection to the military. It was a culture shock for me that involved learning a whole new language with a ridiculous number of acronyms. After the seven weeks, I developed military habits that I never thought I would – there are far too many pictures of me now in and out of uniform standing with my fingers joined in a natural curl! I notice dust on the floor and actually have a desire to sweep. I rarely carry things in my right hand since it must be free to salute while in uniform. One thing you hear frequently before swearing-in is that your parents won’t recognize you after Swab Summer – that you will come out a more mature and developed person. Although I certainly gained a lot of new military mannerisms and vernacular, I didn’t feel very internally changed. My parents agreed. That change didn’t begin to really happen until the next summer.

The summer between 4/c and 3/c year is different for everyone. Some cadets go to summer school, others go on cutters for 11 weeks, and most cadets spend five or six weeks on Eagle and five or six weeks at a small boat station. I spent five weeks on Eagle, traveling through the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. Next, I spent six weeks at Station Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California. The summer was a wonderful break from New London. I’m from Georgia and hot summer weather is my favorite. I learned to surf, read tons of books, tanned, made friends, and was introduced to sailing and search and rescue response. Most importantly, though, this summer was a transition period. In 4/c year you are a follower and it is easy to not take ownership of your path or career because there are so many external motivators. This can sometimes lead you into bad situations. At the end of the past summer, I realized that I would be expected to lead 4/c in the next few months. I started to take more ownership of my own actions and became more intentional with the type of person I wanted to become. That was the most valuable part of the summer for me.

One thing you learn at the Academy is patience. There are so many moving parts that go into planning our summer training and we can’t expect to know our plans super early. We recently submitted our choices for which phases of Swab Summer, AIM, or CGAS cadre we wanted and are awaiting our assignments. I put in for Chase Hall Cadre Phase I and AIM because both of those training periods were the most impactful to me as a swab. Wherever I end up, I’m excited for another summer of growth and adventure!

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