The First Years Look Back on FYOP and Reunion Weekend
*Editor’s Note: The remaining First Year flights were unavailable for comment at press time. We will add them in as they become available.
Articles coordinated by: 27340 OCdt (IV) Léonard Legault Cadet Wing Internal Information Officer (CWIIO)
Looking back on the past three and a half weeks of being at RMC, it is amazing how many new experiences I have had in such a short time. The memories that stand out most for myself are the March through the Arch, kit search, Regatta, Bath Robe Night, Warrior Race, Passing Off the Square, Harrier Race, Obstacle course, and Badging Parade. Although FYOP is very physically demanding and it seems like most of the time I was doing push ups, it is not the PT that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is these other, overwhelmingly positive, experiences that I will recall when looking back on my first three weeks at RMC. Most specifically, I will remember Reunion Weekend.
The obstacle course was both the hardest and most fun workout I have ever done in my life. Although I don’t remember all of it because I was blacked out for a lot, I am pretty sure I was smiling the whole time. The encouragement and support from teammates and peers is what sets this school apart from all others. Without that teamwork, the obstacle course would be virtually impossible. The satisfaction of ringing the bell to signify the end of the obstacle course and the end of FYOP is unexplainable. This year Alpha flight finished in the middle of the pack with a respectable sixth place.
The Badging Parade on Saturday was without a doubt, the proudest moment of my life, as I’m sure it was for many others as well. When I received my cap badge from a member of the Old Brigade and was officially integrated into the school I realized how much grief we had all gone through to get to that point. Not just through FYOP but through Basic Training and Aptitude Testing and standing in the recruit centre on the day they decided to join the Forces, people had been fighting to get their cap badges for what felt like forever. Standing at attention, in my 4s, as a new member of the cadet wing, in front of my family and friends, was the accumulation of lots of hard work and I look forward to continuing to work hard but now as a part of something that’s bigger than myself.
1 Squadron – Alpha Flight
FYOP was definitely an experience, to say the least, however, I can say assuredly that looking back, there is a lot I will miss. Having come straight from basic, like all other O/NCdt’s, and thrown through the floodgates into what was this year’s first-year orientation program, it felt like being plunged into cold water. That’s the nature of the program and through my wonderful 3 squadron staff, our flight banded together, embracing the program, the teamwork, and the suck, to make our way through. After a grueling 3 weeks, FYOP came to its culmination the morning of September 14th when all squadrons and colors came together in the parade square for a demonstration of profound strength, unity, and support for their squadrons and respective first years undertaking the prolific challenge of the obstacle course. The following day, the badging ceremony was held and all first-year cadets were welcomed into the cadet wing as now fully fledged cadets at the college. Without hesitation, I can say that I have never felt such a resounding sense of pride, accomplishment and belonging that I felt during our reunion weekend. Now that FYOP has passed and we begin to adjust back down into regular student life, I can say, and I imagine the same for many other cadets as well, that part of me will always miss FYOP and I will value what it has taught me for the rest of my life.
3 Squadron – Grizzly Flight
As the final week of FYOP rolled around, our daily routine running up to the reunion weekend would either be spent in the classroom or at the obstacle course training for the big day. The way we’d have to carry ourselves each day was rigid, from waking up at 6 o’clock for morning PT to being confined to your lines after class unless stated otherwise.
The day of the obstacle course was one of the most physically demanding days we’ve had so far, many of us were in the black momentarily from obstacle to obstacle but by the end we pulled through together as a flight marking the end of FYOP and the start of our transition into fully fledged members of the cadet wing.
The starting Monday afterwards seemed so foreign to us. There were no more morning PT sessions with music blaring in our ears, it was quiet. Furthermore, we were told to move about on our own time and that we no longer had to check our arms and look straight ahead when entering the cadet dining hall. It was definitely a sigh of relief for the first years knowing that their first major milestone at RMC had been achieved.
6 Squadron – Romeo Flight
As the last log is almost returned to the beginning of the 12 squadron gut check, all members of Tango flight are getting ready for that final sprint to ring the bell that signifies both the end, and the beginning. The end of the obstacle course, and the beginning of reunion weekend. The end of FYOP, and the beginning of our time as RMC cadets. The end of orientation, and the beginning of the next chapter of our military officer careers as students. It was the end of the beginning. We picked up our rocks, and we rang the bell with pride.
Tango flight victoriously exclaimed and howled with excitement knowing that we put in everything we had towards completing of the obstacle course, no matter our position. While walking towards where our own families were waiting to congratulate us, we all joined together in singing Precision – a classic and a Tango staff favourite. It was a very simple moment, but in that song we all felt the extent of our bonds and the fact that we had a tight family here and a home away from home.
Many of us left campus with our friends and families for reunion weekend, explored the city, and most importantly – caught up on sleep. Sunday afternoon, we came back for face check and to carry on with study hours before school the next day. We already began to see the post-FYOP changes such as a drastic increase in our independence, and how we were on more of a platonic level with our staff (rather than a fearful one!).
Transitioning from FYOP into ‘normal’ life at the college has allowed us to continue to discover our interests and capabilities within the borders of the campus, but has not caused us wolves to stray away from the pack we started in. Tango flight was welcomed into the 7 squadron wolf pack with open arms and support from the upper years. As a result, we are continuing into first year smoothly, knowing we have people we can lean on for anything we might need. ‘Normal’ life here at RMC is quite different from that of any other civilian university, but we have learned how to understand, adapt to and even appreciate the intents behind all that we do. At the end of the day, whether it be working through math problems, making beds, or helping each other over any other 12-foot walls life throws at us, we’re all in this together — or rather, we’ll all go down together. But with a flight like ours, this year is undoubtedly bound to be a good one.
7 Squadron – Tango Flight
FYOP had immense impacts in contributing to the first-year cadet’s physical and mental capacity. Consequently, waking up to heavy metal music at 0500 and being granted 2 minutes or less to get ready for almost all timings were decimating moments. However, looking back at these moments now really makes you realize how ridiculous and enjoyable it was; the flight was able to form everlasting bonds. Few days after FYOP ended, our lifestyle significantly altered. We finally got rid of the enormous speaker and instead, we would wake up to our own calming alarms. Additionally, we are always on our own time throughout school, we are authorized to access the gym, Canex, and go to several study rooms during our study periods. Inspections also got easier as we are able to bring in our own belongings for easier access such as fans, speakers, protein powder, and other civilian attires. Nevertheless, the squadron still has physical training twice a week which will maintain the everlasting bond as the second family.
The reunion weekend events essentially consisted of the obstacle course and the badging parade. Mainly, the obstacle course appeared to be the most challenging event that our flight fought through and is the event that truly drew the flight together as one unit. Looking at everyone’s face during the obstacle course made me discern how dedicated they were to completing the obstacle as well as helping others successfully finish the courses. Consequently, the smile on each and everyone’s face after finishing the obstacle course to indicate the end of FYOP was amusing. The smiles never turned upside down as our family and friends greeted and congratulated our accomplishments. Moreover, the badging parade was also a tremendous accomplishment that made our families and friends proud. Being in 4s was one of the most exciting moments as our flight looked extremely sharp. Additionally, receiving our new RMC cap badges was another splendid moment as it amalgamates the first-year cadets into the cadet wing. Overall, the reunion weekend is a memory kept eternally as many actions took place that brought the squadron together as a whole.
8 Squadron – Whiskey Flight
Coming off of the reverie of the Obstacle Course, we were all tired. I remember walking and thinking to myself that I could fall asleep if I closed my eyes for more than two seconds. We gave it our all and I am glad to say it showed in the results. We had families to be seen, a squadron to get acquainted with and a rest well deserved. It was nice and bizarre at the same time. Meeting up with those who we love and trying to explain to them the insanity of FYOP was difficult. For me, it was hard to explain the nuances of the traditions here at RMC. For example, Bathrobe Night, Passing off the Square and the amount of physical training, to name the most prominent. During Reunion-Weekend, I know the majority of us slept…a lot. In addition, hugs were given, tears were shed, phones were given back, fast food was eaten, memories from the obstacle course were solidified, stores were raided for comfortable clothes and boots were polished as the wax had melted off from the short time during the badging ceremony. All in all a good weekend and conclusion to FYOP.
9 Squadron – Warrior Flight
The transition from FYOP to average student life has been relatively easy with only minor hiccups along the way. In FYOP we were awakened by our staff for morning PT by loud music of their choosing and had to march as a flight to and from scheduled activities. Now, as full-time students we rise when we need to, to the music of our own choosing to get to our morning practices, breakfast, and classes by ourselves. With busy schedules and lots on our plates as new Officer/Naval Cadets leaving our FYOP behind us gives us some freedoms to plan our own spare time and finally fall into a routine of our own, for the most part. FYOP never ends after all. We’re still marching across campus and saying “good day” to senior cadets just now with our added sleep there’s a little more spring in our steps and a smile on our faces, because by George we finally made it.
10 Squadron – Merrit Flight