'Situational Awareness' gone too far?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by payitforward, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    My freshman cadet worked hard to build his upper body strength, weight-lifting at the Y and at his high school weight room for 3 years, at least 3 days a week, running the other days, to get ready for ROTC. He's tall and naturally bean-pole thin even though he eats like a horse. He had gotten to where he wanted to be in upper-body strength by the time he entered his ROTC program. I'm proud of the careful, long-term, work-out plan he built for himself -- this, after those middle school years when he was sure he was destined to be thin as a rail his entire life. Now that he's at college, he hasn't had any problem with PT or meeting goals with the ROTC PT program so far. He started out in good shape.

    Here's the problem: he's afraid to go to the weight room at college. And he says he's losing his upper body strength and definition, and losing weight in the form of lost muscle mass. (This is the 7th week, I think.)

    There's this "punishment" thing where candidates in his EC training group have to exhibit "situational awareness" by shouting out whenever they see someone with higher rank in the group -- anywhere on campus. If the cadre guy sees you before you shouted out, you're getting extra PT, no matter when it is or where you are. (I guess classrooms are off-limits, but I'm not really sure.)

    Depending on where you are at the time, it could be pushups on the cafeteria floor (ok, that's kind of ew). If a pull-up bar were available, you'd be doing pull-ups. The guy could be all the way on the other side of campus. If you see him first, you better book it over to him and shout out or else you'll be running up the mountain with your backpack.

    If you're IN THE GYM -- you're getting a boot camp workout designed to basically kill you. So DS won't go to the weight room. It's IMPOSSIBLE to see everyone coming in and IMPOSSIBLE to get through 2 minutes of weight lifting without one of those guys showing up out of nowhere and making you run around the indoor track doing squats while carrying 15 pound weights on your ankles followed by -- I don't even know -- but followed by 45 minutes of HELL.

    Ok, whatever. I get the whole "be situationally aware" thing. But I paid a lot of money for that activity fee so that DS could use that awesome weight room that we toured, like, 12 times. I'm ticked off that he's losing his upper body strength because of being freaked out about going there.

    Shouldn't that space be off-limits? I HATE to sound like a freak helicopter parent, so, seriously, I get that calling the school isn't going to happen even though I'm THIS CLOSE to picking up the phone and complaining. :thumbdown:

    Is there anything I might say to him to help him get through this? (And thing is, it wouldn't be just a freshman year thing, you know? It would be any time you're in that EC group and somebody outranks you.)

    When I drive down for parents' weekend next week, I'm bringing his weights with me. It's not the same kind of workout, but it's better than doing only pushups and running, sometimes with sandbags (which the cadre makes them do ALL the time). He's not really allowed to keep weights in his room. But it's the only thing I can think of to help and he says he is pretty sure he can hide them when he needs to. (His suite mate, who is a sophomore, has weights in his room and it hasn't been a problem for him yet.)

    Wondering if you guys might deliver words of wisdom, please. :eek:
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  2. Frankie

    Frankie Member

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    What school is this and what is the EC Group?
     
  3. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

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    I already know who this is..... Those darn mountain boys. Sounds rather harsh, but he's not required to be in the group!
     
  4. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    Truth that. However, at this point those mountain boys are also most of the corps leaders. If he were to quit, well, that wouldn't bode too well for his future leadership opportunities. "Quitter" label? No? Yes? I've been counseling him not to quit. But what the heck do I know? It's all politics!
     
  5. soccmomer

    soccmomer Member

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    He needs to go to the weight room with a buddy. One can be a look out while the other one works out, then they switch.
     
  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    At first blush I was going to agree that this was pretty stupid. But upon further reflection I have a couple observations:
    1. Others have apparently survived it, so can he.
    2. The situational awareness, while seeming somewhat stupid, is actually part of his training.
    3. He needs to keep going to the gym and position himself in such a way as to be sure to see folks coming. I remember the book 'Shane' (I'm sure you know the movie) where the main character always positioned himself so no one could approach from behind him and he could see anyone coming.
    4. Will he get caught once in a while? Sure. Will the extra exercise kill him? No.

    Of course I could be all wet. It does seem ridiculous in some ways, but I can certainly see where it plays a role. However, if by EC group you mean extra curricular, he could always drop from the group. Certainly far from ideal.

    If you identified the school perhaps alumni could provide more specific advise or even tell you if this "activity" is out of line.
     
  7. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Now that's a great idea!
     
  8. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    If it were me, I wouldn't "enable" him by bringing his weights if he's not supposed to have them. What you can provide to him is some perspective. The purpose of the physical training is really three-fold. Yes, situational awareness is always good, but it's a also a bonding experience between him and fellow EC members as well as, well, physical training. After all, these "boys" are training to become men who perform dangerous, physical jobs.

    Your DS chose to participate in this EC because he saw a benefit to himself or his future as an Army officer. I am sure this tradition didn't begin this semester, and all who have successfully participated in it have spent time being smoked in the gym or the cafeteria, etc.

    This is one of those decision points along the way to growing up. Doing push-ups on the cafeteria floor will not hurt your son. Quitting going to the gym because he's afraid to be called out and smoked is the beginning of a change in who he will become.

    If it were my son, I'd give him the "suck it up" speech and a hug. YMMV.
     
  9. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    OK, why didn't *I* think of THAT?!
     
  10. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    Wow, see? You guys really are awesome. That's really such good, sound, smart advice. Thank you!
     
  11. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    I think I told him all those exact things. By the way, I love your avatar. I'm a USC graduate!
     
  12. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    Hi Payitforward,
    A couple things come to mind reading your post. (coming from a service academy parent background whose second son is applying for an ROTC scholarship to a civilian college)


    I recently was asked to speak at a large gathering on Parents perspective of plebe summer. I texted my son and asked him what advice he would give future plebes for plebe summer. I think MUCH of this applies to beginning in an ROTC program. I am transcribing exactly what he wrote (so sorry about the swearing--I left off the stuff about the transition to the academic yr)

    1. It is hard, deal with it. Just stay happy. Things get better
    2. First Impressions are everything
    3. PMA!!!---> positive mental attitude
    4. Get the F%$# in shape, abs, pushups RUNNING
    5. Don't worry too much, they cant kick you out/ but at the same time-dont be an idiot. Be careful about your actions.
    6. Make friends and work together at everything. People have different talents so make use of everyone.
    7. DON'T BE A DICK! Many people will (like me) hate the front runner who are all uptight. Enjoy yourself and establish relationships. You will be around these people for 4 yrs. And they will be your closest friends.
    8. if you dont come with a sport, try one out, just do something, try something new


    soccmomer's suggestion is excellent. These guys really need to learn to lean on eachother.

    Part of this activity may be to bring about an esprit de corps.Which are feelings of loyalty, enthusiasm, reliance, and devotion to a group among people who are members of the group. Remember where your son will be in a few short years and you can see why this is important. Sometimes these activities may make the cadet/plebe etc feel like they have no one to reach out to, except their company brothers and sisters. Having your son call on a fellow cadet will encourage them to trust one another and increases the accountability of one another. These activities make individuals learn about their own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Everyone always helps each other out when your company brothers and sisters needs it the most.

    Another thought that comes to mind is the skills he is developing now will be used over and over again in his career and it just might be the difference between life and death. Staying calm under pressure, attention to detail, situational awareness, remaining detached emotionally- these are all critical for a leader who will be responsible for the life of their charges.
     
  13. philmont

    philmont Member

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    Hooah.

    payitforward, IMPO, let your DS figure this out.
     
  14. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    Wait. So you're saying don't take the weights and don't say anything more about it? Not even the buddy idea?

    @Vista123 -- thanks -- all good points to consider.

    You guys really do take a situation that I feel is practically the end of the world and turn it all around to make me see that what we're paying for here is the BIG PICTURE. I'm so glad I unlurked!

    Edit: well, "end of the world" was exaggerating. I was just irked about that activity fee.
     
  15. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    just my opinion-not necessarily the right answer!!!!!

    • don't take the weights
    • suggest the buddy idea
     
  16. philmont

    philmont Member

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    Yep yep and yep.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  17. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    Slightly different take than Philmont. No, I wouldn't take the weights, but as
    I said before I'd give a motherly "suck it up" speech reminding him of what he's trying to accomplish there and how they're actually helping him to reach his goals. It's hard to remember sometimes when you're in the thick of it. Usually just a gentle reminder that he really doesn't want to be "that guy" is enough. Then suggest the excellent buddy idea and leave him to handle it. A month from now he won't remember why it stressed him, but he may remember and apply your advice to the next situation - and there will be more!
     
  18. payitforward

    payitforward Member

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    I think I'll be channelling @Jcc123 later. keeping it :cool:
     
  19. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I mean this is one of the reasons I didn't got to a SMC, if ANYONE gets in the way of my power cleaning or deadlift time I am not going to be happy :wink:

    In all serious by going to UNG this is kind of what he asked for and I think the buddy system or the grin and bear it method like thousands before him is a effective course of action.

    Once again, he is at a SMC for a reason right?
     
  20. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    This sounds like a rediculously stupid exercise in hypervigilance.
     

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