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cadet blogs

Four Most Memorable Academy Experiences

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo As a fourth class, I have a relatively short list of experiences that I could consider as my most memorable moments at the Academy. However, I have had been lucky to have had many memorable experiences. If you want to have a good time at the Academy, you have to be willing to get involved in Academy clubs, sports, and service. Getting time away from the day to day grind and finding an outlet is crucial to surviving at the Academy, without a doubt.


One of my most memorable experiences here came from my participation on the rugby team. This past fall, we had an unbelievable season. Our first team AND second team went undefeated, and we won two playoff games to become the Northeast Division II rugby champions. Our championship game was a nail biter. There were two minutes left in the game. We were up by two points and Norwich (our opponent) had the ball deep in our territory. After a two minute all-out fight to the finish, the final whistle blew, and we were champions! It was a truly memorable experience for me because my old high school coach had come to see the game, my aunt and immediate family were all there, and most importantly, I was able to celebrate with all my teammates.


Another special moment from the fall semester was the Winter Formal. The theme of the night was remembering the POWs and their families. I was moved by the ceremony and felt a very special connection to our service members still missing. The rest of the night was awesome, too. I had tons of fun dancing, talking, and hanging out with my classmates. I felt a stronger connection with my classmates, and it was one of the first times I felt totally relaxed at the Academy.


From a community service perspective, one of my most memorable service projects was an all-day youth leadership event held here at the Academy. The event was for students from eighth to tenth grade, and they participated in a variety of leadership events throughout the day. For the first half of the day, the kids built bridges, catapults, and egg drop baskets out of arts and crafts materials. It was a good exercise in teamwork and cooperating on a design. I had a good time watching and guiding them along the way, and I was proud how well some of their projects turned out. After the builds, we took the kids over to lunch in the wardroom, and on a tour of the Academy. For the second half of the day, the kids discussed various leadership scenarios and participated in a team building objective. It was fun and interesting to watch young kids get their first taste of leadership. Overall, it was an awesome day and I loved working with the kids.


Finally, my most memorable experience at the Academy was my one week on Eagle at the end of Swab Summer. I was the last phase of the summer, so Swab Summer was over for me and I was able to relax and enjoy my time on board. The first day, I had duty. We were tied up in Newport, Rhode Island, and I stood on the deck for a few hours talking to people who were touring for the day. I had a good time interacting with all different types of people and it was a great experience. Our second day on board, I was free to go out on liberty in Newport. That was the first time I had liberty and it was awesome. I walked all over town, buying food and supplies, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and even going to the beach. While underway, I continued to have a good time. Even though it can be miserable standing watch from 1200 to 0400, or 0400 to 0800, it’s all what you make of it. Luckily, I had an great division, so when we ended up with rough watch times, we told stories, played card games, and listened to music. Another part of Eagle that I loved was climbing the rigging to work on sails. Every opportunity I had, I climbed. My most memorable climb was when I climbed all the way up the top of the highest sails (about two hundred feet high) to watch a beautiful sunset in New York harbor. Eagle was an awesome experience, and I can’t put everything I experienced into words.


As you can see, your Academy experience is what YOU make it. No one is going to tell you to get involved, to branch out, and to try new things. However, I strongly recommend doing this. In my experience, I have taken on more clubs and activities at one time this semester than I have ever before, and I’m as happy as I have ever been. The Academy offers all the opportunity to have awesome experiences, but it is up to you to go pursue those activities.


More about Hunter.


Winter to Spring Break

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Keeley Photo Finally out of the Dark Ages. For those who don’t know, the Dark Ages are considered the time from after finals and winter break to the beginning of spring break. During this time, the days are short, the mornings are cold and cadets have to force themselves back into gear after the holidays are over and classes begin again. However, do not let this shine a negative light on Academy life. Many people say that they don’t agree with or even think the Dark Ages exist.


Coming back from winter break means seeing all of your close friends at the Academy again and when you form such close bonds with everyone, especially during Swab Summer, your classmates become those fun cousins you can’t wait to see again. Also, classes do not start right away after coming back. I really like this about the Academy (although I’m not sure if other colleges do it, too). The week after coming back from winter break is called MAP week and is an orientation week where cadets get their books, take the PFE, talk with their advisors, among other things. This is not a very stressful week and allows you to prepare everything and catch up with your classmates. Finally, the beginning of second semester may be a pain but it is nice to know that it is the last kick before summer assignments!


I cannot decide whether or not I believe in the Dark Ages but they certainly were not as hard to get through as some people led me to believe. This was also partly because as a 4/c, Boards were coming up and when the entire class passes, it receives carry-on and some 3/c privileges. Knowing that this reward was just around the corner pushed me to study hard and suck up whatever negativity I had. We still have yet to all pass Boards but there is only a small percentage of our class that is still trying and most of them just got unlucky on the set of questions they were given the first time. The Dark Ages were also easily ignored because spring break planning was atop everyone’s mind since January. I went with three other 4/c cadets to one of their houses around Tampa, Florida. This was very exciting especially because I had never bought my own plane ticket or planned a vacation without my parents help. I must say, having your own constant income is extremely liberating. The vacation was a blast and I will try to upload a picture or two from it. The four of us went to the beach, Busch Gardens for free, out on one of the 4/c’s boats, and just had a relaxing time. In my opinion, the breaks are all the more worthwhile because of how much work and effort you put into school leading up to it. This effort makes the breaks feel deserved.


Well, that’s all I have for now. I also just wanted to thank those out there who emailed me with questions about the Academy among other things. Again, if anyone has anything they would like to know about this place or any questions, even silly ones, please feel free to shoot me an email. Also, I encourage anyone out there looking into attending the Academy to participate in our Cadet for a Day program. I just had a prospective cadet this weekend and it was a blast. All of us love having them here, not just because they give the 4/c carry-on, but also because we love talking to them and answering the same multitude of funny and serious questions we once had.


Thanks for reading!
4/c Melissa Keeley
Echo Company 


More about Melissa.


Short February Post

 Permanent link
Zwenger Photo Nothing really happened school wise in February, but we did figure out what we will be doing this summer. I happened to get my first choice being an AIM cadre. I chose this position because I did go to AIM and it was basically the deciding factor of whether or not I wanted to come to the Academy. I hope that I can bring that same enthusiasm to some prospective cadets, that my AIM cadre (now ensign in Coast Guard) brought to me. I don’t have much to say about this now other than I am extremely excited to start my second-class summer but I will be sure to keep y’all updated throughout the summer. Although three weeks out of the summer are dedicated to being a cadre, the rest of the summer has a lot of thing in store, which I will talk about later once I know more.


A short post but our class has finally figured out some of the plans for our so-called “best summer” while we’re here at the Academy. I’ll let y’all know if it holds up to what people speak about it.


More about Spencer.