Plebe Summer

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Otter, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Otter

    Otter Member

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    So, it is finally feeling real, and I'm starting to get the edges of the anticipatory nervousness. I-day is June 28th and I just want to make sure I'm as ready as I can be. I'm pretty fit, think I should be able to max the PRT. I've got the naval ranks and insignias memorized and am working on the others. I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to what I can/should do to prepare. I am looking forward to the summer and the academy, just want to do as well as possible.
     
  2. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    Plebe points to ponder....

    We recently held a state parents club gathering for our new Plebes. Here are some thoughts expressed by several current Mids and a couple of brand new Ensigns:

    1. (Unless you're a smarta$$) Don't worry about the "fly under the radar" advice you sometimes get. Be yourself. It's fine to stand out for the RIGHT reasons - being a good friend and teammate.
    2. Even if you're normally shy, work to make friends with your company mates. You're NOT all alone, you're part of a new team/family.
    3. Homesickness will happen at some point to most Plebes. Expect it, but plan ways to get through it. See number 2!
    4. It's not personal. Really. You will not really understand why things are done the way they are until you're the detailer.
    5. NEVER throw anyone under the bus. Ever.
    6. You WILL experience some form of failure, something you probably have not experienced before. Someone will be better than you are at something. You will be better than your company mates at something. Find each other's strengths and weaknesses, then use each other (in the good sense) to all grow stronger together. "The chain is only as strong as the weakest link."
    7. Get involved in some team or ECA.
    8. Take comfortable running shoes, a lighter, your cell phone+charger, and most importantly, a good attitude on I-day.
    9. Every time you think you have it tough, believe it or not, the detailers are having it tougher. Really. They get up before you, go to bed after you, they are responsible for all the same things as you (being in shape, room inspections, etc.), but they also have responsibility for you as Plebes. They as being trained as leaders just as you are being trained to be followers. Observe them. Find the really good ones AND the (hopefully not too) bad ones, then see what they do - or don't do - that makes them good or bad. Start thinking about effective leadership styles.
    10. Don't think about the next 4 years. Focus on manageable time chunks: this week, or this day, this hour, or maybe just the next 5 minutes. Then do it again. Repeat ad nauseum :)
    11. Promise yourself not to make a decision about whether this whole thing is right for you until the first academic semester is complete, no matter what happens. I know quite a few current officers who were going to quit - some made that decision several times, and some even put in paperwork to leave, yet they made it through. You have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy to get through the gates. Give the whole thing a real chance, even if you have serious doubts.
    12. OTOH, DO NOT enter your junior (2/C) year at USNA unless you are there for the right reason: because you still want to be Commissioned as an officer in the US Navy or Marine Corps to serve for a minimum of 5 years. Pleasing your parents and your family, or "not letting them down" is NOT a good reason at that point.
     
  3. Hope2012

    Hope2012 Member

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    Wow 2012mom? ! Very wise things to hear. Thank you so much for posting. It's encouraging to me. Will print this out for my son.
     
  4. Candidad

    Candidad Member

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    A lighter?

    Smoke 'em if you got 'em?

    ???


    Best advice we received at our appointment dinner: "They won't kill you and they can't stop time." We're letting the kid figure out the rest on his own when he gets there. Welcome to adulthood buddy!
     
  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Lighter is for getting rid of IPs, or stray strings on uniforms (cammies are the worst).

    Good post 2012mom. I'll add some of my own perspective later.
     
  6. Otter

    Otter Member

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    Thank you for the advice, I know that I'll find something there that will trip me up - I imagine everyone does; I am looking forward to it though. I worked hard to get there and on I-day the work will have paid off.
     
  7. engineer

    engineer Member

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  8. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    So, my .02 as a former plebe and former detailer (squad leader).

    1) Your reputation starts I-Day. Be a team player and put your best effort forward. You're going to be with these people for four years, don't be burning bridges less than 6 weeks in. The reputation you have with your peers will be vital during your time at the Academy. Also, your detailers are more aware of how you interact with the other plebes in your squad and in the platoon than you realize, and that will effect their perception of you--and guess who everyone in the company will ask about you when the AC year starts. If you're seen as someone who is arrogant, selfish, manipulative, or sucking up to the 1/C, not only will your peers see it, but the upperclass will too.
    At the same time, be yourself. Sure, you can hide who you really are for 6 weeks, but by the middle of first semester at the very latest, people's true characters start to show. You can't play at something for four years, so you might was well start out being who you really are.
    I think "fly under the radar" is some of the worst possible advice for plebe summer. Yeah, take care of your stuff and try not to stand out for bad reasons, but the summer shouldn't be about "getting through." You can get a lot out of the Academy from a leadership perspective, but it's not handed to you, you have to earn it. You might as well start getting used to working as hard as you can to get the best experience possible over the summer. You don't want to even start at USNA with the reputation of someone who just does the minimum.

    2) Be forgiving. Your reputation among your classmates may start on I-Day, but something to keep in mind is that you will probably only see the worst in some people over the summer. There will be around 1200 people in your class on I-Day, 80 in your plebe summer company, 40 in your platoon, and only 9-11 in your squad. You will interact most closely with those in your squad, and those in some of the other squads may be almost complete strangers throughout plebe summer. You will know almost nothing about these people...except for when they mess up.
    Even if you adapt quickly to the environment over the summer, others will not. You will become familiar with the concept of group punishment for an individual's mistake, but don't let that color your opinion of that person. You'll get your day where you mess up too, so help them up and keep moving on.

    3) Don't be afraid to ask for help. This has several parts: first off, if you're bad at something, work with someone in your squad to either get better at it or have them help you get it done. Don't beat your head against the wall trying to iron a shirt if you always burn them: have someone else help you, and you help them with something you're good at.
    Second, if you're hurt--not "Oh no, I'm sore!", actually injured--sticking it out and not seeking medical assistance doesn't make you tough. It makes you an idiot. One of the plebes in my squad ended up missing a week of training because he was in the hospital (and getting surgery!), plus more time unable to participate in a lot of activities, because he didn't seek medical attention early enough. Don't "cry wolf" for medical stuff, but realize that your detailers really do have your best interests in mind (unless they suck). They know how to take care of little stuff like blisters and won't think worse of you for getting serious help if you need it.
    This also applies to emotional or mental issues. Again, your detailers have your best interests in mind (again, unless they suck). We want to see you succeed. If you have preexisting issues from home or emergent issues over plebe summer, do not be afraid to either bring it up with your squad leader or ask to see a chaplain. This does not make you weak or a bad plebe. One of my plebes had a couple visits with a chaplain, and finished the year one of the top 4/C...not just in the company, in his entire class.

    4) Keep an open mind. Some people will have come to the Academy for reasons different from yours that you might think are "wrong." They're not. Over time what I noticed among my classmates that a lot of people who came to USNA as recruited athletes or for what their classmates thought were less "noble" reasons usually figured it out and ended up staying for the right reasons. It's not really what you came for, it's what you do once you're there: at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you came to USNA for the "right reasons" if you fall asleep during squad rankings, for example.
    There's also a lot of kids who come to USNA from not-great backgrounds or have issues that they probably won't share with you right away. You don't know what kind of loads other kids have in their packs.

    5) You can only control your response to the things that happen around you. It'll be easy to get frustrated, or cynical, or annoyed with your classmates or the detailers. Don't worry about what they're going to do, focus on how you're going to respond in a way that will make things better. For all of your actions or words, think about whether it's going to move the group forwards or backwards. Flipping out on someone might feel good at the time, but doesn't actually make things better.

    That ended up being much wordier and less focused than I intended, but I hope it helps.
     
  9. Otter

    Otter Member

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    Thank you all for the advice, one thing I was wondering was how it will affect you/ how to deal with 'bad' roomates.
     
  10. LiveGold

    LiveGold Member

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    My advice is simple: Chill out, enjoy life, don't think about plebe summer. Reading this forum is not going to make you a better plebe in 2 weeks but it will suck away precious time you could be spending with family and friends or playing video games or sleeping or watching tv, etc. So make a promise to yourself to not look at it and just have fun. future plebers, you should definitely be moving your mouse toward to top right of your screen now. Top left for mac people.
     
  11. MIDNDAD

    MIDNDAD Member

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    I second LiveGold's advice. Your childhood is about to come to an abrupt end in a couple of weeks. Take the next couple of weeks and enjoy your family and friends. Give your mom and dad some "special" time with you. Time will be one of the most valued parts of your future life. Enjoy the last days of your youthfull freedom.

    Come I-Day the navy will literally and figurativly own your ***.
     
  12. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Yes, enjoy this time. You can never get it back. It will be your last days of being lazy, sleeping in, and flipping aimlessly through your parents entire cable package! You will miss those days and count them down until leaver periods.

    Great advice above. You will all screw up during Plebe Summer. They will ensure it one way or another. The key is learn from it and move on. You will do well at certain things and suck at others. Get help and help others when they need it. And remember, just because someone did not adjust as quickly to Plebe Summer does not mean they will be a bad Plebe or Midshipmen. I was not a stellar Plebe during Plebe Summer and my upperclass were on a mission to destroy me and the other two recruited athletes in our Platoon. We all made it through, I had a decent Plebe Year, not stellar by any means, but really thrived as an upperclassman. It is all what you make of the place. They will not hand you anything, but if you push yourself you will find some great leadership, academic and training opportunities.
     
  13. Soler

    Soler New Member

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    A side note

    Everyone else has given you great advise, so I have little left to add. Instead I will only offer you a few words of encouragement.

    Stand Strong. The next few months, years, will not be easy, they are not meant to be, but in the end you will not regret it. If you make a mistake one day, or not perform as well as you had hoped, move on. Remember, Today is a new day, today is another opportunity to succeed.

    I wish you the best of luck.
     
  14. Otter

    Otter Member

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    Haha, strangely it is comforting to hear that everyone will screw up. Thank you all for your advice.
     
  15. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    A. Accept that a plebe seldom does anything correctly the first time - for whatever obscure reason, but listen to the detailer and try to do as told. At this point they are not looking for innovation, just replication.
    B. Develop a thick skin and keep in mind some of the noise is for effect - usually to keep the plebes slightly off balance so they are more manageable. Do not take things personally.
    C. Keep a healthy sense of humor, you will discover humor in situations that seem very dire... one exception - don't get caught smiling or laughing if one of the detailers messes up, not good for longevity.
    D. One big thing to take from PS is that you can accomplish much more working as a team than as a bunch of individuals. This really is a primary objective of PS - to develop interdependence and the strength of the team.
    E. Bear in mind that the job of the detailers is to convert you from a bunch of civilians to a military unit, and they only have a few weeks to prepare you for AC year and the return of the Brigade. As the summer progresses you will see the detailers start to focus on your classmates who have not yet snapped in to the role of being a midshipman 4/C. Get in the habit of being ahead of the curve rather than behind it and life will be better.

    Enjoy the rest of your civilian summer, enjoy home-cooked food, sleeping in, so on - things will start falling off the wall on the 28th. Best wishes to you and your classmates.
     

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