Some folks see the beginning of Third Block as summer’s turning point, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the beginning of August.
By the time the sun rises on The Yard on August 1, the Plebes of the class of 2022 have had their second phone call. They’ve also lived through the jarring “changing of the guard” as the second set Detailers have taken over. Plebe parents have learned jargon like Tango Company and SIQ. Plebe Summer has turned a corner and, before you know it, the Plebes will wear their summer whites for the first time at a Bowie Baysox game and, hard to believe, Plebe Parents Weekend is actually within sight.
At the same time, while many Mids are completing summer training, many varsity athletes will begin their summer camps. Plebes will see more Mids on The Yard. There will be more activity, too, as the Academy begins to gear up for the Big Moment – the Brigade Reform. Summer is officially winding down for the Midshipmen.
Summer set up well for my Mid. He had Second Block leave, which butts up against Third Block, so he had some extra time at home. That extra time allowed him to relax – really relax. The difference between his countenance during the school year and these weeks at home is startling. But as the last few days of July start to fade away, a difference begins to emerge. It’s subtle, but as a parent, you notice.
He had a great summer. His Zero Block Yard Patrol cruise landed him just up the road in New York City for Fleet Week. We were able to meet him there and enjoy a great day together. He went through Protrimid during First Block and all went well. He said he felt like he got a good view of the major combat communities – Marine, aviation, surface warfare and submarine. He came home still wired in “Mid Mode” and ready to wind down. And he did.
Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t become a big couch potato. Quite the contrary. He hit the gym daily, sometimes twice a day. He worked on strength and agility, he connected with his club football team’s line coach, working to get quicker off the snap. But he managed a camping trip with a Boy Scout buddy to the Adirondacks. He took a group of high school friends to the Jersey Shore for a daytrip. He watched the house while we were away on an orchestra trip with our Mid Sib.
And when we took our regular week in the Poconos, he came with us for a few days. He took the kayak out, swam with his GoPro, got a fire going despite damp conditions, joined our extended family (the Mid Grandparents were there, too, of course) for games around the kitchen table and even went blueberry picking.
Now he’s preparing to head back to The Yard for Sprint Football camp. I see him started to become a bit more intense. There’s more talk about the upcoming year, what weekends he may (or may not) have available to come home. I see Snapchats of his friends completing summer classes. I read Facebook posts from other USNA parents of their Mids’ exploits in summer training (some are in Alaska, like my Mid was last summer). I also read posts from Plebe parents and the flood of emotions from that time overwhelm me.
It all reminds me that while all of these Midshipmen are on a similar journey, they are all following their own unique path. But now is a turning point in the Summer of 2018 – the paths are once again beginning to converge as the cycle and, therefore the journey, continues.