Welcome to the first day of Orientation! Or as we call it here, "Day 0"- the real show starts tomorrow! You could feel the excitement in the air this morning as families and their cadet candidates lined Academy Drive, duffel bags, contraband bins, and pillows in hand. I had a great time getting to meet so many wonderful families, and hearing how far some of you have traveled to be here. Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Hawaii, plenty from Maryland and New Jersey, and some from even further- Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and more! We’re so happy to have all of you join our MMA family, and I hope that you’re able to follow along with this blog, no matter where you call home.
At sharply 0900, check in started, and cadet candidates were issued nametags and PT gear, and assigned to a company. Their company will be their second home here at MMA, and the friendships they make there will last a lifetime. All of the cadet candidates here have taken the first step in a journey that will last the rest of their lives. The next 10 days will be physically and emotionally tough, but these cadet candidates have already made the choice to come here. They chose to come to MMA, to learn discipline and leadership and set themself apart from their peers- to take the road less taken. These two weeks will fly by, and soon enough they'll look fondly back at their cadet candidate days.
After move-in, the cadet candidates changed into their PT gear and headed down to the stadium for our opening ceremony. The Cadre marched onto the field, looking crisp and sharp in their uniforms, and turned towards the audience to take their oath. These Cadre promised to guide the cadet candidates placed in their care, and I know that each and every one of them will do just that. They marched off the field, and as the cadet candidates left the bleachers, Orientation really started.
The cadet candidates formed up behind the bleachers in platoons, and were instructed by the Cadre on how to present themselves during orientation- to stand at attention, eyes straight ahead, don't look at anyone, tuck your shoelaces/shirt in, address the Cadre with "Sir/Ma'am/M Sandwiches" (that is, to start and end every sentence or question with Sir/Ma'am/M), that there are no more I/Me/My'sas they are all one team now, and to refer to themselves as "this Cadet Candidate". They quickly learned the meaning of "books in your faces"- that is, to open up their youngie handbooks and hold it in front of them to learn their knowledge. The Cadre would quiz them on different youngie knowledge and the C/C's were expected it spout it in response. It was absolutely a culture shock, but the Cadre carried themselves with professionalism and respect, and made an effort to teach the C/C's rather than just scream at them.
From there, they were shuttled to lunch, where they learned of even more customs to follow. You must ask permission to come aboard (meaning, to sit down) from the squad leader sitting at your table, when they get up everyone must rise, you must take your "moonbeam" (flashlight) out and place it in front of you, you must pass the salt/pepper/water/etc clockwise and thank your shipmate who passed it to you with 'Shipmate, thank you, shipmate." While many of these customs may seem unnecessary or bizarre, they're all rooted in real life applications that you need at MMA. You have to always carry your "youngie gear", including a moonbeam, because in an emergency on the ship, if you don't have a flashlight you wont be able to find the exit. You can't "block a hatch" (stand in front of a door) because ship doors will automatically slam shut if a fire is detected and can seriously hurt someone standing in the way. These are all important rules to abide by, even if they may seem confusing at first to these cadet candidates.
After lunch, our wonderful volunteers from the MMAPA, Campus Bookstore, and cadets and their families helped process all the C/C's to get all the uniform parts of their Seabag. We thank everyone who helped get the uniforms ready, we couldn't have done it without you! Rear Admiral McDonald, the President of MMA, and Mr. Ortiz, the Dean of Enrollment Management, Equity, and Inclusion, were there to personally greet these C/C's and give them their Seabag. Once recieving all their uniform items, the cadet candidates returned to their companies to get quized on their youngie knowledge and practice basic drill movements.
Before too long, it was time for dinner, where everyone went through the same procedures as lunch. After dinner, the C/C's were shuttled to Admirals Hall for their first of many meetings during Orientation- a medical briefing by Dr. Cukor. Everyone's safety is our absolute priority this week. During these meetings, the Cadre were able to meet to discuss what's been going well and ways to improve on today, before picking their kids up and marching them back.
Afterwards, we had a fire drill, and all the companies met on the field to go over evacuation procedures. Then, it was time to return to their dorms, and give in all their contraband- phones, watches, fans, wallets- that will be returned to them at the end of the week. The Cadre explained the importance of Taps while every single cadet candidate lined up at attention in the hallways of their respective companies. After Taps played, it was time for bed, their first night of many here at MMA.
Tomorrow, we look forward to "Meet the Cadre" in the morning, where squad leaders will outline their expectations to the week and introduce themselves to their C/C's. We have a full day of activities lined up, and I can't wait to watch as these cadet candidates develop into fine young leaders.