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A Reflection on Cadet Summers So Far

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021, Eagle, Swab Summer) Permanent link   All Posts
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!