Our Mid Sib has expressed a great interest in military service. And unlike her brother, who was strictly focused on the Naval Academy, she is open to all branches, including academies and ROTC programs. (I love her thought process – “Everyone who can serve should serve. And I’m capable of serving.”)
She’s obviously seen plenty involving the Naval Academy and the Navy. But in order to get her some perspective, it became necessary to undertake covert operations and get behind enemy lines.
That meant a road trip this past summer. First stop, the United States Military Academy. That’s right, West Point.
It was quite an interesting visit. I hadn’t been there since a Boy Scout camping trip some six or seven years ago and we didn’t know it, but we arrived on the Friday the senior class (like USNA, known as Firsties) were to receive their class rings. And, like USNA, it was quite a big deal, so there were a lot of folks there.
We ended up parking out by the football stadium, which at first seemed like a big inconvenience, but it turned out to be kind of fortuitous. You see, we ended up a few places we weren’t actually supposed to be, including the heart of the campus near some of the barracks, some academic buildings and the “civilian” housing out the outskirts of the campus.
Because of this behind-the-scenes access, the Mid Sib ended up connecting with a bunch of Cadets. Among them:
- An exchange student from Canada. A super nice young man who could not say enough about the American academies, though he admitted that it wasn’t easy. “Do you like pain? If you do, this is a great place.” He went on to say that while it wasn’t exactly pleasant, he knew it would pay off in the long run.
- Keegan West, who just happens to not only be the quarterback for Army’s Sprint Football team, but also the coach’s son. When we told him our son played Sprint for Navy, he was nothing but gracious. “We got really lucky last year and this year we have to go down there. It’s going to be a tough one.” He and Mid Sib had a great conversation. (As it turns out, Army did win during the regular season, but Navy won the game that counted – the league championship game!)
- A young lady who grew up in Japan. Talk about gracious, she answered all Mid Sib’s questions and asked some of her own to get a better idea of what she was all about. She then offered her cell phone number – “call me or text me any time.” I still can’t believe she did that. Mid Sib has since had a couple of nice exchanges with her.
As we meandered back to our car – having to find an alternate route since we had been “busted” for being in the wrong place – Mid Sib connected with another handful of Cadets. Each took a few moments to answer questions. All in all, lots of info.
So far our timing had been perfect. That continued when we got back to the stadium, looking up to see the parachute team above us, headed right toward … the stadium. It was like they were headed right for us. We got to chat with a couple of them as they left the stadium and got into a great conversation with the parents of one of the jumpers.
I know as a Naval Academy parent, I probably shouldn’t say this, but we had a great time. Mid Sib loved the look of West Point, especially the more open, rolling campus and was genuinely touched by the way the Cadets responded to her so positively.
With all of that intelligence gathered, we packed up and headed east. Next stop, United States Coast Guard Academy.