Advice for Beast

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Nick K, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. Nick K

    Nick K New Member

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    Candidates and Parents,

    As R-Day quickly approaches I thought I would lend some input from a current 2017 cadet that will, not only be working as cadre during Beast Barracks, but also be the bane of your plebe year existence.

    This is merely advice and by no means a sure fire way to be successful, but it would behoove many of you to learn from my mistakes, as well as my successes.

    1) Like many of you, I couldn't wait for the days preceding R-Day to pass by. What seemed like the beginning of the most exciting part of my life was coming too slowly, and I spent most days just trying to pass the time. Relish that time, embrace it, and make it your most memorable with your family.

    Be with your parents, they are your lifeline when times get tough -- and that brings me to my next point.

    2) You will be homesick, and that's okay. Don't let that get to you. It's a normal feeling, especially when getting yelled at by your platoon leadership on the near minute basis. It's really easy to fall into a dark place of despair and resentment for the situation you're in. God knows I spent too much time just hating every moment away from my family, when I should have been in awe of the cool stuff I had the opportunity to do. Talking helps. Do it often with the people you trust such as your squad mates, or the counselor assigned to your company. Contrary to popular belief, it will not hurt your cadet career, so babble on! Just don't do it in the hallways.

    3) Accept others for their faults, and learn to take criticism. This was perhaps my biggest downfall during my first summer at West Point. I came with idealized visions of what people would be like, what my squad leader would act like, and when that didn't happen I grew resentful. The problem is, that often comes off like "I'm better than you, and you should all work to meet my standard" behavior. Coming from a peer, your squad mates will dislike you for it. Coming from a subordinate, your squad leader will hate you for it. We all have room to learn. Open up to what others have to offer, you're not always right.

    Not accepting that from the get-go shot me in the foot. I arrived at Beast ready, motivated, and prepared to give it my absolute all. Unfortunately, a few minor stumbles caused me to spiral out of control, and before long I was the squad "f***-up." Don't let the little mistakes define who you are. Learn from them, regardless of how massive they may seem at the time. Besides, I guarantee you no one remembers the guy that breezed through Beast without ever getting in trouble, but EVERYONE remembers the guy that was given a pet rock by the cadre to help him stay squared away.

    In short, it's okay to screw up. The rock's name was "Stella" if any of you were curious.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    However generic any of this sounds, there's a reason for it they call it "generic." It's a lot more common than you think. Good luck with your final preparations. Any questions, ask below, I'll attempt to answer as many as I can.
     
  2. AcademyHopefulOne

    AcademyHopefulOne Member

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    Thanks very much! If you don't mind giving yourself away, which phase of CBT and which company will you be with?

    I'm quite concerned about my fitness. I realize I need to spend time with my family, but I also need to improve my APFT scores. I've read that 30-50% of New Cadets fail the initial APFT. I'm doing my best to prepare for it. With less than three weeks left, should I have rest days between going to failure on push-ups and sit-ups?

    Good luck as a leader this summer!
     
  3. nikkip

    nikkip Member

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    Hey! I'm not entering as part of the class of 2019, but I wanted to say thank you for your advice! As an applicant (and hopeful appointee) to the Class of 2020, I can say I search the Internet for hours for stuff like this. Advice about Beast, how to handle plebe year, etc. I've watched countless videos and have read countless posts, and they always seem to solidify the feeling that I've made the right choice in deciding to apply to USMA. I've visited, slept over night, and met/joked with cadets and I can honestly say I can't imagine spending my college years anywhere else. Cadets like you make the campus a better place! I've chosen Army, I just hope Army chooses me me back. Thanks again!:)
     
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  4. Nick K

    Nick K New Member

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    Unfortunately, I won't reveal where I'll be during CBT, as there is an aura of professionalism that must be maintained.

    The only way to improve at each event is to do them. I recommend doing the push up/sit up tests daily. 2 minutes per, do as many as you can. If you have further questions, message me. Good luck!
     
  5. Nick K

    Nick K New Member

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    No problem! If you need more advice, feel free to ask. Good luck with your application!
     
  6. AcademyHopefulOne

    AcademyHopefulOne Member

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    Completely understand. Thank you for the advice!
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I've posted this over the years. Hard to believe I actually wrote it 10 years ago. The kids I wrote it to are out of the Army now, having moved on to other things after serving honorably. The advice still applies, I believe.

    You are about to embark upon the great crusade. So this is it. You're packing the bags, maybe running one more time, saying goodbye to friends and loved ones, and generally freaking out at the prospect of starting this new life. Good. It's part of the system, and it has served many graduates well.

    I've thought a lot about my experiences in Beast. (Fifteen years later, I still do.) I thought perhaps I could help you to some great degree - be the wise Grad whose littany of mistakes could somehow come in handy for you as you traverse the threshold from high school kid to cadet. As I reflect on it, though, I now think that Beast is something you own, and everyone's experience will be tailored to wear on them in the spots that need work.

    I was a very egotistical but very scared New Cadet. In my mind, I was one of the best. There was nothing I couldn't do. Then the bell rang and reality came out swinging. I discovered there was a multitude of things at which I was actually pretty terrible. From personal relationships to the first APFT, I was sucking wind in a lot of important areas. For the life of me, I couldn't understand it. I was a three-sport athlete, at the top of my class, accepted very early via an LOA in August. I thought I was going to be the poster child for West Point. After two days, I felt more like the dumb kid who had to be seat-belted on the school bus than a potentially successful future officer.

    You, too, will fail. You'll be told you're a screwup. Maybe your platoon leader will tell you your attitude sucks. Maybe the XO will give you some "special attention." Maybe you'll lose your rifle card 5 minutes after they give it to you, and your Tac Officer will find it. Maybe all of that will happen to you, as it did for me. Take heart in knowing that it's a part of the system, and that you are not the first person to make whatever mistake you might have made. If you doubt that, tell yourself that Scoutpilot probably made that mistake, too, and you'll most likely be right.

    Despite my potentially skewed views on life, West Point, and the world in general, I thought I would nevertheless boil down the essence of Beast survival into three tips, as I see it. Remember, of course, that in those days the uniforms were green, the boots were black, the rifles were long, and everything was as hard as it ever could have been and the Corps has become leaps and bounds easier since the day I left (or that is how each grad views the institution in his or her own mind)...

    1. Never feel truly sorry for yourself. The number one killer of the mind in situations of personal difficulty is self-pity. Ask anyone who's been to Ranger or SERE or a special assessment. Self-pity leads to a whole nest of destructive thoughts that you as a young man or woman of recognized potential have no business wasting your time on. Nobody ever beat the odds by feeling sorry for themselves. When you do start to feel sorry for yourself, remember that 9 kids are working at Taco Bell this summer while you have that slot. Remember that there are kids your age who have deployed for long and dangerous tours of duty.

    Most of all, remember that you were chosen for a reason. You have demonstrated the ability to succeed. That's why you're there. So shut out the bad thoughts, wipe away the tears (yes, you'll cry once or twice), and go succeed. I advise you against the web of pitiful and destructive thoughts because self-pity was my forte, and it will be so among many of your classmates...especially those who do not survive the summer to become cadets.

    2. Never fail your squadmates and your roommate. If one of you is screwed up, everyone else needs to fix the screwup or screw themselves up to match. Always insulate, never isolate. Don't ever leave your buddies dangling. Servant leadership starts with the idea that you are the last man by choice. Your are placed in a team and that is the team with which you must succeed. Good leaders don't start out by choosing who to leave behind.

    Listen to the differences in people. Your squad will be a mix of race, religion, and origin. Love them all like siblings, even the screwup. The role of the screwup changes from day to day, and more than once that screwup will be you. You'll want your squadmates to grab you by the drag handle on your kit and pull your limp body along when you need it. You had best be there for them when they need it, too. Grab on. Pull hard.

    3. Never give in. Fight for every inch, because you are fighting for yourself and all the good and difficult things your country will ask of you. Push yourself just that much harder. Do everything you can to make your family and yourself proud. As Solzhenitsyn said, "the bitter doesn't last forever." It's true, so make it count. You only get one shot at doing the hard things right. You only have one life.

    Speaking of which, don't let your old life get in the way of your new one. I went to WP with a girlfriend of four years, very much in love with her. She's married now and it's not to me. I'm married now, and obviously not to her. I went as a selfish teenager, but I think I left as a decently generous adult. Or on the road to being one, anyhow. Don't fear the change. Embrace it. Worry about what you can change, forget about what you can't. (If you succeed at that, please tell me how.)

    It's always a great day to be an American fighting man/woman. So, in the words of Chief Dan George, "Endeavor to persevere." In the words of my departed classmate, warrior, and friend Paul Pena, "keep on keepin' on."

    You all have what it takes. Someday, a decade later, you'll go to a Founder's Day dinner so that you can simply look back fondly with others who've shared the experience...and laugh.
     
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  8. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    I'm so glad you posted this ^^, Scoutpilot. It's a classic and I hope all of the 2019s will read it and remember it later.
     
  9. AcademyHopefulOne

    AcademyHopefulOne Member

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    Scoutpilot, thank you very much for posting that. It helps to take a step back and see the big picture and your post illustrated it for me.
     
  10. SF1775

    SF1775 Member

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    Thank you, Nick K and scoutpilot. I am itching to go with only 15 days remaining until R-Day. My confidence and excitement are boiling over in anticipation for this adventure I've been waiting years to begin, and now only short days remain. Thank you for reminding me that I will mess up many times, and that I will let it get to me zero times. I just hope I can do the best job I can do while my mistakes can still be forgiven, and remember those who have gone before me.

    Duty, Honor, Country
     
  11. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    Bumping so the Cadet Candidates can read Scoutpilot's very helpful advice for Cadet Basic Training.
     
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  12. jayo86

    jayo86 New Member

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    This. Is. Awesome. Thank you so much.
     
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  13. nikkip

    nikkip Member

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    Also was reading this a few days ago! As June draws nearer it's getting more and more real it's so crazy. All the hard work has FINALLY paid off. Thanks for bumping!
     
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  14. Felix Rosa

    Felix Rosa #Dream#Future#Success

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    THANK YOU Scout Pilot. I needed this to further prepare myself mentally for Beast! I can't wait to get started and meet my teammates.
     
  15. Sawndog

    Sawndog Member

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    Nick and Scoutpilot have great advice!

    I would add one point to their advice: Just do the right thing.
    I was told this by a graduate (a general officer) before I attended West Point and now I truly understand what he means by this simple statement. You will know what right looks like, and if you don't, ask your leadership. Many times it is easier to do the wrong thing, but it can lead down a path of more bad decisions. I've found that if you "just do the right thing," you will never regret your decisions and your time at West Point will be a lot more bearable.
    For instance, you will not be allowed to talk outside to your peers (unless you are eating or it is directly related to training is typically the policy). You may eventually get comfortable with your CBT cadre and start taking risks such as saying something to your peer that is not training-related. When I see this, I will make the correction, as it is the duty of all cadets to enforce the standard. It would be easier for me to act like I didn't see two New Cadets talking and not confront them, but that isn't the right answer. The reason corrections are so important is that when you are a PL going out on a patrol or movement and notice that a vehicle wasn't properly PMCS'd (maintained/checked) and you don't make that correction, and the vehicle dies in the middle of a mission, you have no one to blame but yourself. You may ask, well talking outside is a "stupid policy". I would agree with you. However, if you can "do the right thing" by meeting the standard of these "stupid policies" (New Cadets) and "do the right thing" by enforcing these "stupid policies" (leadership), you will be much more likely to follow/enforce policies that are not "stupid" (i.e. properly PMCS'ing a vehicle before mission), which can save lives.

    Just my two cents.
     

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