A Look Back: FYOP 2019 Week 1 / Le POPA 2019: Retour sur la première semaine

Editor’s Note: RMC’s First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) is a three-week introduction to College life which will culminate with the Obstacle Course on Friday, Sept 13, 2019. Below are the experiences of the First Year Officer Cadets and their staff in their own words. // Note de la rédactrice: La période d’orientation de la première année (POPA) du CMR est une introduction de trois semaines à la vie au College. Elle culminera avec la course d’obstacles le vendredi 13 septembre 2019. Vous trouverez ci-dessous les expériences des élèves-officiers de première année et de leur propres mots.

Above: First Year Officer Cadets complete the FYOP Regatta on Monday, Sept 2, 2019, an important milestone in the FYOP program. Photo credit 28418 OCdt McConkey. // Ci-dessus: Les élèves-officiers de première année terminent la régate du POPA le lundi 2 septembre 2019, une étape importante du programme du POPA. Crédit photo 28418 Élof McConkey.

From the First Years / Le point de vue des élèves-officiers de première année

Alpha Flight – OCdt Sands

The first week of FYOP feels like the first step of an exciting new journey into a unique little world. The Royal Military College has over 200 years of tradition and history behind it and entering it as a First Year student is quite the experience. The first week is challenging, with long days filled with exercise and room inspections, with little time to collect yourself. But it is worth it; for every moment I feel like I’m going to pass out from exertion, there is also a moment where pride swells up in my chest; from walking through the dining hall and seeing the walls lined with pieces of the school’s history, to yelling greetings to the senior Cadets, and to seeing iconic historical building such as Fort Henry every morning.

The road to even get to FYOP was a challenge. The uphill battle that is the first module of the Basic Military Officer Course brought many people to FYOP in less than perfect health. Upon reaching Kingston, we were greeted by our staff and sent off to do some paperwork, before getting a chance to reunite with our friends and family, many of whom we haven’t seen in over a month. Following this was our march under the Arch, an important tradition that was exhilarating. For many this was their first parade as well, with a band to accompany. After the parade, we had our first objective, get our kit. We ran to the location where mountains of bags and boxes awaited us. Everyone as scrambling to find their things as heavy metal blared. The next few days of FYOP were a similar order, with early, sudden mornings as we desperately try to wake up and get our rooms sorted while loud music encouraged us to move urgently. We followed this up with morning PT, something different and challenging every day; once we ran to Fort Henry and back, the next we did grueling sets of push-ups, sit ups, carries and drags. Our first well deserved break is breakfast, and the comfort of the food at RMC is a welcome shelter for us weary first years on FYOP. Here’s to another week.

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Fighter Flight- Élof Bonhomme

Je n’ai jamais vécu une expérience similaire au Programme d’orientation des élèves-officiers de première année (POPA) dans le passé, POPA a une réalité qui lui est propre. C’est une expérience unique qui nous pousse constamment à se surpasser. Il y a beaucoup d’information à apprendre en si peu de temps. Les défis sont au rendez-vous. Ce qui est le plus difficile pour moi c’est l’activité physique intensive combinée au manque de sommeil. Cela-dit, ce que j’apprécie le plus c’est la cohésion d’équipe qui se développe un peu plus avec chaque défi. L’entraide est l’élément essentiel pour réussir chaque obstacle qui se présente quotidiennement. Les staffs font preuve de rigueur de manière professionnelle et partage leur compétence afin que l’on puisse s’améliorer. Le POPA est intensif et exige de la persévérance mais je suis certaine qu’une fois terminé, j’en garderai de bon souvenir.

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Kaeble Flight – OCdt Comeau

Within the first week of FYOP my flight has been bombarded with 30 second timings, panic music, and a whole lot of fun. Although we would all enjoy the opportunity to sleep and extra 5 minutes, or shower for more than 2, we have managed to enjoy our time here so far. Our bond as a flight has grown stronger with every passing day, and our appreciation for the FYOP staff has also continued to develop. In the moment, PT at 0500, long held stress positions, and the constant fear of being yelled at may seem like the worst thing in the world. However, we all understand the importance of what we are doing. We want to become the best officers that RMC has to offer, and FYOP is the first step.

My flight has been lucky enough to be assigned staff members who know how to be serious yet still have fun with us at times. Overall, the staff has our best interest at heart and we all appreciate the little things they do for us. Humorous games, like wheelie chair hunts for missing luggage and late night stretching sessions keep our moral high and our mental health in check. It is the little things that made FYOP enjoyable, and our drive to continue high. I believe that we are all looking forward to the challenges to come in the next two weeks and we will try to approach it all with confidence and a positive mindset. We look forward to dominating all the other flights in the Obstacle Course on the 13th. LET’S GO KAEBLE!!

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Papa Flight – OCdt Papaioannou

Well, FYOP is going as well as can be expected. So far it has been one of the greatest challenges myself and my peers have faced. Our FYOP staff may be intimidating, but we are all impressed with the professionalism of the FYOP staff as well as their level of physical fitness, as they are doing the PT with perfect form right along with us. It is evident that the Obstacle Course is the priority for the end of FYOP, and tasks throughout the week have revolved around making beds together after having them thrown down flights of stairs to improve team cohesion, encouraging others to push themselves during morning PT sessions, and sprinting around the highway in the mornings to ensure everyone is formed up downstairs before the bodies hit the floor. It has been intense but rewarding as we are starting to learn to work better as a unit, improve our level of physical fitness, as well as learning how to lead effectively. Though our staff may seem tough, they always have our flight’s wellbeing in mind.

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Romeo Flight – OCdt Kim

From waking up at 5AM to go for a dip in the water to working on perfecting our inspection standards with the multiple inspections throughout the day, First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) is an experience all cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, ON has to go through. Referred to be a “right of passage” into the College, it consists of physical training, keeping up room standards, and team building through solving problems. Although it is mentally and physically challenging, it is highly rewarding in the end. The day is strictly regimented and structured, with little to no room for individuality. It can be frustrating to have no control over your daily endeavors, but it is nice at times to not have to plan everything as the schedule already dictates what the day will look like. The one aspect of the military that is highly enforced is teamwork. The 12 first year flights all have their unique team dynamic and cohesion which contributes to their overall ability to work as a team. The FYOP staff has made it crystal clear that teamwork is the only way one will succeed at RMC. Whether it be classes, room inspections, or the obstacle course, it is heavily emphasized that teamwork will be a key to success. Daily life during FYOP can be overwhelming. The morning PT occurs daily and consists of multiple activities such as swimming in the river, a 4.5Km run, and hill rushes. We found that although it is challenging, it is highly rewarding and helps us get started with the day. The feeling of accomplishing the first task of the day is extremely motivating to tackle the challenge that the flight faces. As expected, teamwork is enforced during these PT sessions. In terms of meals, it is unnatural to not be able to look around the Cadet Dining Hall. It was difficult not to look around when there are so many new and old faces around, but as time went by, it was easier to adjust to this change. The quality of food is much higher than expected. The salad bar is always filled with fresh vegetables, and the CDH staff are always friendly and welcoming. The staff’s professional conduct is very reassuring. As we face drastic changes, we always have our FYOP staff to ask questions and they are always willing to answer our questions. They put “leading by example” into practice. When we do PT, they don’t just sit off to the side. They are on the ground, with the flight, doing the same exact exercise with us.  Their emphasis on physical and mental health just goes to show us that they care about our well-being and wants us to succeed. Overall, FYOP may be difficult in all aspects, but it builds mental resiliency, team cohesion, and gives an example of what kinds of standards the Cadets attending RMC are held to during their time on the peninsula. We are excited to see what the rest of FYOP has to offer us!

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Tango Flight – OCdt Heinz

FYOP at RMC has been both one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life. The challenges presented have brought me to my physical and mental limits; however, this experience has taught me that I am far more capable than I had believed. In one week, a flight of twenty strangers become a part of a team and more importantly a family. We have learned to count on each other, trust each other, and forgive each other no matter the situation. Together we learned that teamwork is a force multiplier and when each member pulls their weight, the team is capable of anything. Individuals have strengths and weaknesses, but when a team uses each other’s strengths the team succeeds. Whether it is making beds, polishing boots, or climbing over a wall a team will succeed. The largest mental obstacle I’ve had to overcome is the stress of having a lot to do and little time to do so. Preparation and planning ahead makes everything in life easier, whether for inspection or morning exercise.

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Whiskey Flight- Élof Sekyewa

Après avoir passé cinq semaines à l’École de leadership et de recrues des Forces canadiennes, arriver à une nouvelle place et apprendre toutes les règles était excitant et un peu effrayant. Quand je pense à ma première semaine au CMR, POPA était plein de surprises.

Samedi, nous sommes arrivés à Kingston après un long voyage. Après avoir déjeuné avec mes nouveaux membres d’escadrille, je suis allé retrouver ma famille. C’était bon d’entendre leurs voix et d’être avec les personnes que j’aime. Ensuite, la classe de 2023 a marché sous l’Arche Mémorative. C’était un moment spécial pour moi et tous mes pairs. Notre leader d’escadrille nous a escorté à nos chambres. Puis, POPA est vraiment commencé. Tout à coup, nos leaders nous ont dit d’aller dehors pour chercher notre équipement. Quelqu’un jouait de la musique rock bruyamment et nos sacs étaient partout. C’était la première fois que nous devions travailler ensemble comme une escadrille. C’était un défi, mais nous avons réussi. Lundi matin, nous avons eu notre première session d’entrainement physique. Encore, il y avait de la musique rock qui jouait et notre couloir est devenu une autoroute où nous devions courir sur le côté gauche. Nous avons eu beaucoup d’inspections ce jour-là et nous avons appris le standard des chambres du CMR. Pendant notre travail, la musique rock jouait toujours. Au cours de la semaine, nous avons commencé à nous sentir plus confortable autour de l’école. Nous sommes allés faire un tour du campus et avons commencé à apprendre notre «College Knowledge». Nous avons beaucoup de faits sur l’école à savoir, et ma colocataire et moi sommes toujours en train de nous tester l’une et l’autre. Mercredi, nous sommes allés recevoir nos uniformes du CMR. En résumé, cette semaine était tellement longue, mais pas tellement mauvaise. Les traditions du collège, comme crier Goodnight Saigon par Billy Joel chaque soir et dire bonjour aux autres escadrilles, sont amusantes. La semaine prochaine, nous commençons nos classes, ce qui sera un autre type de stress.

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Warrior Flight – Élof Gagnon

Mon expérience POPA débuta un samedi, soit le 24 août 2019, après deux semaines de vacances bien méritées avec tout le travail accompli durant mon QMBO mod 1. La fin de semaine fût tranquille, ce qui me laissa perplexe. J’avais entendu tellement d’histoires par rapport à ces 3 semaines que je ne pouvais pas croire que ce serait ainsi. J’ai rapidement réalisé que cette fin de semaine n’était pas la réelle réflexion du POPA, mais ces deux journées permirent à mon escadrille et moi de faire connaissance juste avant le coup de départ.

C’est alors que le lundi matin arriva. Il devait être 5h du matin quand la musique Heavy Métal commença à jouer. Tout le monde devait se lever rapidement avec tous les cris des quatrièmes années qui retentissaient dans les corridors. La tenue d’entrainement physique devait être portée, nous nous apprêtions à participer à notre premier entraînement matinal. Après avoir couru dans la colline, nous sommes allés prendre une douche. C’est à ce moment que commencèrent les «timings» serrés, habituellement très difficiles à compléter. Nous n’avions que 10 minutes pour passer 16 personnes sous la douche et enfiler notre uniforme de combat. Pour chaque tâche où le temps n’est pas respecté suit une conséquence, généralement du genre physique. Je croyais avoir trouvé le QMBO difficile mais le POPA est loin devant.

Ensuite est venu le temps des inspections. Toutes les chambres doivent être identiques selon de très hauts standards déjà établis. Ce sont généralement des tâches assez simples qui deviennent très complexes quand le temps pour les accomplir est limité. Celles-ci permettent de renforcer notre travail d’équipe, une valeur très importante dans les Forces Armées Canadiennes.

De façon générale, les journées sont de plus en plus difficiles puisque nous devons toujours être meilleurs que la veille. Le temps alloué pour chaque tâche est réduit de jour en jour, ce qui augmente énormément le niveau de stress. De plus s’ajoute la fatigue physique et mentale. Malgré toutes ces difficultés, il y tout de même des moments amusants où des liens peuvent être créés et qui nous permettent de travailler plus fort pour accomplir tout ce qu’on attend de nous en tant que futurs officiers des Forces Armées Canadiennes.

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Merritt Flight – NCdt Tanaka

On Saturday, August 24, 2019, we marched under the RMC arch alongside many other OCdts and NCdts to mark the beginning of our journey at RMC. It was a bit exciting and nerve-racking to have our friends and family watch us.

From the first day, 10 squadron, Merritt flight’s FYOP staff demonstrated to us what it meant to be a senior Cadet. They were professional, knowledgeable, supportive and compassionate. They made it known to us that they respect us and that we aren’t alone in this journey. That being said, during FYOP, we have one goal: Aim for excellence so that we can succeed at the obstacle course and in the four pillars or RMC: bilingualism, academics, leadership and athleticism.

Between early morning PT, drill lessons, back to briefings… Life at RMC during FYOP is “stressful,” but I’m grateful to be a part of a squadron that cares enough to push us to do better and better

Everything that is asked of us during FYOP is about the bigger picture, or the long-term benefit.  FYOP challenges us and is a once in a lifetime experience and I look forward to the upcoming weeks leading to the obstacle course.

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Victory Flight- Élof Garand

Pourquoi le RMC ? Pourquoi je suis ici présentement en train de faire le FYOP ? Pourquoi je ne suis pas avec le reste de mes amis du secondaire qui vont au CÉGEP et qui font la fête ? C’est assez simple. Mon rêve a toujours été d’être pilote de chasse et si je regarde les options qui s’offrent à moi, eh bien il n’y a pas d’autres que les forces armées canadiennes. C’est pourquoi que je suis allé sur le site internet des FAC et j’ai découverts le RMC. Pour moi, se fût un choix facile. Pourquoi aller dans une université civile quand je pouvais venir dans une université où en plus d’un diplôme, je pouvais devenir un meilleur leader, être plus en forme et devenir bilingue? Dès cet instant, mon choix était fait. Après l’an et demi dans le processus de sélection, je me suis retrouvé au CFLRS. Les premiers jours furent un peu plus difficiles puisqu’il s’agit d’un gros choc entre la vie civile et la vie militaire. Cependant, j’ai su apprécier ce que nous faisions là-bas et de me faire pleins de nouveaux amis. Après cinq semaines qui ont passé très rapidement, je suis ici au RMC, fessant mon FYOP. Ça fait seulement quatre jours que s’est commencé et je trouve le FYOP intéressant et même des fois plaisant! Le FYOP nous permet de nous préparer à la vie au RMC. Nous travaillons sur notre leadership, le travail d’équipe et sur l’entraînement physique. J’aime les entraînements physiques puisqu’ils me permettent de me dépasser et de devenir plus en forme.

De plus, j’ai rencontré 14 autres personnes avec qui je vais passer les quatre prochaines années de ma vie et avec qui je vais toujours rester ami. Tout le monde a ses forces et ses faiblesses et le FYOP nous permet de les utiliser tous ensembles afin de devenir une meilleure équipe. Alors, pourquoi je suis ici au RMC? Je suis ici, car le RMC est la meilleure université au Canada et j’ai très hâte d’en faire officiellement partie.

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From the FYOP Staff / Le point de vue du personnel du POPA

Alpha Flight – OCdt Dohm

Although change is not always well received, striving to improve the way in which individuals are trained is the only way to achieve progress. This is undoubtedly the case for the First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) at RMC. The primary goal of FYOP is to properly integrate First Year Cadets into the College and set them up for success. With the many challenges that First Year Officer or Naval Cadets face, this is not always an easy task. In the past several years, various changes have been made in order to better the program. The two most notable changes which have occurred are the shortening of the program, and the mandatory study hours on Sunday to Friday. During these study hours, Officer and Naval Cadets must devote their time to academics. Not only does this improve their grades, but it also allows for professors to move along with their course material at a normal pace. Another benefit of having study hours is that it teaches the importance of time management, a skill which is necessary for success not only at RMC but also in the Canadian Forces. The shortening of FYOP from five weeks to three weeks has also made it much easier for the academic staff to help their students succeed. Another noticeable change has been how physical fitness is handled during FYOP. Instead of having Third and Fourth Year Cadets being in charge of fitness, it is now either conducted or supervised by the PSP staff, who are professional trainers that know exactly which programs work the best. This has led to a significantly lower injury rate and has allowed for much tighter control of training. Through these changes, and various others including an emphasis on leadership and teambuilding, FYOP has become a much more effective tool at preparing newcomers for a successful and rewarding time at RMC.

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Grizzly Flight – Élof Lamb

Le FYOP est une partie essentielle du parcours d’un Élof au RMC. Cette étape lui permet d’apprendre tous ce qui essentielle à sa vie au collège militaire et à sa carrière militaire. 

Il est évident que le FYOP est incroyablement difficile et il est construit afin de sortir les Élofs de leur zone de confort. Cela permet aux Élofs de découvrir qu’ils sont capables de faire beaucoup plus qu’ils se croyaient capable de faire. Chaque jour, l’Élof fait face à des obstacles qui semblent parfois impossible, cependant, lorsqu’il s’entoure de ses coéquipiers, il réalise que tout est réalisable. Sans équipe, il n’y a aucune victoire, ceci est essentiel à la réussite du FYOP, les coéquipiers, sont l’outil le plus essentiel, non juste durant le FYOP, mais durant tout la carrière d’un militaire. En conséquence, l’Élof se retrouve avec une deuxième famille, une famille remplis d’amis qui porteraient mieux le titre de frère et sœur.

Un élément extrêmement essentiel est l’attitude de l’Élof face au FYOP. Comme mentionné plus tôt, le FYOP est très difficile, par contre, il peut être plus facile ou plus difficile dépendante de l’attitude de l’Élof. Tout est possible en étant positif en ayant une bonne résilience mentale. Si un Élof se dit qu’il va passer trois mauvaises semaines, il va passer un mauvais trois semaines. Bref, tout commence avec le mental, peu importe l’individu.

En conclusion, le FYOP est une étape demandante du parcours d’un Élof. Il doit se menir d’une attitude positive et s’entourer de personnes qui vont l’aider à passer à travers le FYOP. Les leçons appris lors du FYOP sont bonnes pour la vie, il est important que l’Élof en prenne avantage.

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Papa Flight – OCdt Cameron

FYOP 2019 is now a week underway, and the new First Year Cadets are adapting well to the rigours of the program. The gradual transformation from a group of individuals to a cohesive and effective team is always fun to watch, and Papa flight is making significant progress in that area. While the early mornings, constant inspections, and tight timings may not be all that enjoyable, the First Years are learning many valuable skills that they will carry with them through FYOP and contribute to their success here at RMC.

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Whiskey Flight- OCdt Gorman

I and the rest of the Whiskey flight staff eagerly awaited the arrival of our first years the 24th of August 2019. The CFL was occupied with completing their in-clearance upon arrival and led them through the Arch, the first real step in their challenging ROTP adventure. After getting the flight settled in we quickly moved to teaching the first years the rules of FYOP as well as coaching them with our experience at RMC, between all three elements as well as various OJEs and courses. During their first weekend, here (the 24-25 Aug 19) we moved slowly so as to ensure they understood the expectations we had for them and to discern what they expected and would receive from us as their FYOP staff. Once Monday hit much of that instruction process had been completed, and though we still worked throughout this week to coach them up to the expected standard with regards to inspections, College knowledge, and general FYOP etiquette, we were expecting them to achieve the standards placed in front of them. It was at this point we could begin to add extra stressors to test the leadership of the IC (who would be given an AAR at the end of every night by the CFL) as well as the teamwork and cohesion of the flight. Through LRCs, short timings, loud music, and fastballs from the staff the First Years’ ability to communicate, think critically, be aggressive, and to put the mission and men before themselves was tested. There is still a long way to go but we legitimately believe that they have potential to be the best flight and through continued effort at every morning PT, inspection, drill, or other task given to them we have no doubt that they will be prepared for their First Year at RMC.

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Hunter Flight – OCdt Pitre

Young men and women embark on their first three weeks at the Royal Military College of Canada. Unlike most university students, the RMC First Years must partake in an orientation period named FYOP.  Most of the incoming First Years had no idea what this orientation period would involve before arriving here. Some are prepared for the weeks to come and are excited to get the following three weeks under their belt and get into the College. Yet, regardless of how many First Years are prepared, none of them have any idea of the relationships they are about to create and the camaraderie that is about to arise.

Propelling themselves forward into the unknown the First Years have been soaking up as much knowledge as possible. Every situation that they are exposed to is as important as the last. Nothing that they will learn is to be swept under the rug. In the event that they encounter any problems, they can use the knowledge they gained from FYOP and apply it.