Random Tips for SS Candidates


5-Year Member
Feb 10, 2017
So, it’s getting to be that time again! Most candidates probably know by now whether you will be attending Summer Seminar or not. If you didn’t get accepted, no worries. Seriously, getting into SS…or not…is in no way indicative of whether or not you will be appointed to USNA.

If you did get in, though…congratulations! You’re about to have the time of your life. Here are some completely random thoughts/bits of advice for you. I have tried to organize it starting with the more serious advice and ending with some lighthearted things. If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me!

1. Cemetery – If at all possible, try to go on a tour of the cemetery. During my SS experience, the detailers had several of these tours while we were over on Hospital Point, mostly for people who wanted a break from intramurals. DEFINITELY go on one. It is both sobering and motivating to see how many men and women have given their lives for our country. I consider my tour of the USNA cemetery the most valuable experience I had at SS. And do the 22 pushups…you will know what I mean if you go on a tour.

2. Church – Even if you are not religious, consider attending either the Protestant or the Catholic service on Sunday morning. That’s likely the only chance you will have to see the inside of the chapel, and it is breathtaking. Definitely not something to miss, in my opinion!

3. Motivation – Encourage your squad-mates at all times. Especially during Sea Trials. You will all struggle at something, even if you think you won’t. Stick together and motivate your teammates and you will have fun. And…it doesn’t hurt to memorize some motivational quotes. One of my squad-mates gave a stellar recitation of the entire Braveheart freedom speech (you can YouTube the speech if you don’t know it) at the beginning of the obstacle course during Sea Trials, complete with accent. In a word, it was EPIC. :) My squad was so pumped up for that course!

4. Arrival time – Unless you want to be playing sports all day, try to arrive on the first day toward the middle or even the end of the time period allowed. Keep in mind that you will be taking the CFA the next morning, and you want to do well on that because it will go on your application to USNA. (If you wind up doing poorly then you can retake it, but why not just do it well once and have it over with?)

5. Indoc Night – Just relax about it. Really. It’s only 30 minutes, it’s optional (although you REALLY don’t want to be that one kid who abandoned his squad…), and you will have your water bottle siting on the floor beside you. I mention this last bit because the detailers will encourage you to hydrate, and they will not yell at you while you’re drinking. So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and a detailer is heading your way, that’s a good time to get thirsty. ;) If you’re not completely sure of an answer the detailer asks for, yell your best guess as loudly as you can. The detailers are looking for confidence more than accuracy. To be honest, I was dreading Indoc Night going into SS, and I wound up actually enjoying it. Trust me, it is not as scary as you think to be yelled at when your squad is standing on either side of you and everyone else is being yelled at too. Just don’t worry about it. Memorize your rates to the best of your ability, and you’ll be fine. But PLEASE, for your own sake and your squad’s, don’t be that one kid who starts crying. It happens every year…don’t let that be you.

6. Air conditioning – I’m sure the weather varies year to year, but the week I was in Annapolis was very hot and humid. The rooms are air conditioned, but they are also on a thermostat (which is not set very cool) and will turn off automatically long before the room is as cool as one might hope. It can be hard to sleep at night in a hot room…thankfully, there is a way around this. Somewhere in your room, there is a small metal panel on the wall (about the size of the panel around an electrical outlet.) If you rub this panel briskly with your hand until it warms up, the air conditioning will turn on again. An upperclassman gave me this tip and my roommates and I slept much better after that!

7. Washing clothes – definitely bring a small amount of liquid laundry detergent so that you can wash your shorts and PT shirts in the sink at night. Your clothes will get gross very quickly. After you wash them, you can lay your clothes on top of the air conditioning units to dry them faster.

8. Memorize – On your first or second day at USNA, you’ll receive something called a rates sheet. This has information for you to memorize, some of which you will be asked to recite during Indoc Night. Try to memorize as much as you can. Bring that rates sheet with you wherever you go and study in your spare moments. It will save you and your squad-mates some yelling and supplementary PT. :) However, if for whatever reason you’re very bad at memorizing things and can’t remember everything, ask your squad leader what the most important items are. Usually s/he will give you 5 or 6 of the most important things to study.

9. Footbridge – you will be running across the footbridge to Hospital Point several times during your stay at USNA. Be VERY careful not to brush against the railing as you are running! This will result in massive amounts of splinters and/or tears in your shirt sleeves. Ask me how I know…

10. Thought of the day – I don’t know whether every squad does this, or if it was just mine, but I thought this was a great idea. Every evening, my squad leader gave us 10-15 minutes to write a “thought of the day” – basically, the top three things that stood out to us about that day. It could be things we saw, our impressions of USNA, things we hoped to do tomorrow, etc. Even if your squad leader doesn’t require this, it’s something to consider to help you get the most out of SS. I took pictures of mine before giving them to my squad leader, so now I can look back and see what I was thinking during SS. :)

11. Peanut Butter – ALWAYS check the PB container when you arrive at your table. You will quickly learn what to do if it is a new container. ;) Also (you’ll know what I mean once you get there) be very careful what you yell in King’s Hall. One poor kid tried to say “Go Navy” and “Beat Army” at the same time and accidentally yelled “Go Army” while he stood on his chair and smashed the PB jar open…he was not a happy camper. Nor was his squad. (I promise, you WILL know what I mean about the PB jar.)

12. Squad Pride – it’s always fun to come up with a unique name/chant/etc. for your squad to yell at random (appropriate) times…Go Monkey Squad! :)

In summary: Have fun, try hard at everything, and get the most out of it. You only get to go to USNA SS once.

Once again, feel free to PM with questions/comments! Starchaser21 out.
Thank you for sharing this. I passed it on to my DS. (Session 3)
Hey OP were you session one last year because I remember a kid yelling the "Go army" as well[emoji23]
One poor kid tried to say “Go Navy” and “Beat Army” at the same time and accidentally yelled “Go Army” while he stood on his chair and smashed the PB jar open…he was not a happy campe

Now that's funny.... I can imagine it surprised the NASS cadre, because BEAT ARMY is engrained in your head since Day 1 of Plebe Summer. The thought of anyone even thinking BEAT NAVY is alien to them. I still do a double take when I see or hear someone say that. That being said, alot of kids go to both West Point and Navy summer seminars, sometimes back to back, and would expect them to be confused from time to time. To be honest, it would be kind of fun to mess with the Cadre by letting a Go Army slip out from time to time...what can they do, cut your hair and send you to West Point ?
Similar story from my DD but first week of Plebe Summer (class of 2019). One poor guy at the end of a VERY long day shouted at the top of his lungs "GO ARMY - BEAT NAVY"
DD said the entire floor fell silent and then the same plebe said in a quieter voice (Boy I really F***ED that up)
No consequence that she heard of - but she said it was all everyone else on the floor could do to not crack up!
Great advice OP, only thing I could add to that is make sure to take the opportunity to ask plenty of questions. Ask your squad leader questions. Ask the instructors during the workshops questions. Ask anyone you can things about life at the Academy (short of being that one candidate who doesn't shut up of course.) Remember, the point of NASS is to introduce the candidates to life at USNA and help them decide if it would be the right fit. Spending a fun filled week over the summer is definitely not the same as spending four years as a mid, so catch the glimpse if you can. Some candidates will go in being 100% sold on the SA life and come out uncertain, while others will have the exact opposite path. No one knows until they are experiencing it what it will be like. When I went my company even broke out into male/female candidates with their detailers, so there will be a time to ask anything.

BTW, I also found myself at Session 1 last year! I was the nutcase carrying around a sign for the second half of the week. Go, Action Alpha!