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.
The Mid Sib was down on the Coast Guard and was clearly making the trip to placate her parents. She looked, at best, uninspired, as we entered the campus and made our way into the visitors center to check in. We strolled through the museum there, which is pretty cool and had a chance to catch up with a second-year Coastie and learn a bit about life as a Coastie.
We meandered around the relatively small campus (it’s literally one-third the size of the Naval Academy) and not much happened to change Mid Sib’s position. As we walked through the bookstore, we came across two female Swabs and they were more than interested in chatting with us or, more specifically, our daughter. One was from Washington State who said she loved the premise of the Coast Guard – “we’re always helping people,” she said. I didn’t give it much thought, but later I realized that statement clearly struck our daughter as she listened intently as the young lady elaborated.
The other Swab was from Colombia and grew up as a young girl living on the Amazon River. She regaled us with stories of “playing” on the Amazon, her mother sending her off with her puppies. Mid Mom was mortified, of course, but I had to laugh. But we all laughed when she talked about coming to the USCGA. “It’s the only school I applied to,” she said.
Her friend, who turned out to be her roommate, had to pick her jaw up off the ground.
“Wait, it was the only school you applied to?” She said without blinking. “I mean, you didn’t have a backup school?”
Her friend just smiled and shrugged. “Nope” was all she offered.
Mid Sib chatted with them for some time and we headed out to see the rest of the campus. Our daughter’s countenance had noticeably changed.
We ran across a group of Swabs … first-year cadets … and we apparently had arrived just at the end of Swab Summer. Now, Mid Sib remembers clearly the nightmare stories of Plebe Summer her brother told time and again. She remembered the stress at home and the not-too-encouraging phone calls. She’s heard many Mids share similar stories and about how all of that misery followed straight through Plebe Year until Herndon.
These young Coasties admitted Swab Summer was difficult. But to a person, they said that now that it was over, the upperclassmen told them, “we’re all in this together” and they had bonded. I’m not sure, but I think I saw my daughter’s head spin around 360 degrees. They had nothing but good things to say about the upperclassmen and the detailers who had led them through Swab Summer.
Stunned, we ran into another cadet as we hit the end of campus and began to turn back. Unprovoked, he offered to give us a tour of the rest of the campus, pointing out the various buildings and talking about the opportunities the academy afforded and what attracted him. My reserved daughter continued to ask thoughtful questions and listened intently.
We stopped at a seasonal seafood spot along the Thames and Mid Sib admitted, “The Coast Guard Academy seems pretty cool. I expected to trash the place, but I really liked it.” On the long ride home, she said that he was, as we expected, intrigued by the concept of helping people and the more she thought about it, the more she realized that’s what the Coast Guard was all about. And she wanted to be a part of it.
So Coast Guard is officially on her list. Here’s hoping she is on their list.