A Look Back: FYOP 2019 Week 2 / Le POPA 2019: Retour sur la deuxième 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 completed another FYOP milestone as they run the guantlet of the Passing Off the Square on Friday, 6 September, 2019. Photo: Cpl Brandon James Liddy, RMC Public Affairs // Ci-dessus: Les élèves-officiers de première année ont franchi une autre étape importante dans le cadre du programme POPA en tentant de faire semblant de ne pas être à la place le vendredi 6 septembre 2019. Photo: Cpl Brandon James Liddy, Affaires publiques du CMR

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

Alpha Flight – OCdt Sands

An important event in the career of any Officer Cadet studying at RMC is to perform, with a partner, a silent drill routine called Passing off the Square. For us it was an exciting moment, taking place right after dinner in the evening on the parade square in front of the Mackenzie building. As we approached, we could see the Top Five Cadets of the College patiently lined up at ease, waiting for us to run the gauntlet to approach them and “pass off the square”. Before we could do that however, we had to march past several Cadets senior to ourselves while performing drill perfectly and without calling out commands. Some people counted timings in their head, while others used discreet audio cues, or perhaps a brush on a shoulder. Any perceived failure would force you to run back to the start of the gauntlet and await your turn again. There was no uncertainty as to whether you had failed, or you could continue; the seniors made it very clear and made sure everyone knew. From the moment we started to march, we were completely in the zone, in sync with our partner, focused on completing the gauntlet. After all the drill, we had to present ourselves to one of the Top Five and answer their questions, ranging from facts about the College to belting out the national anthem proudly. On my final attempt, the Cadet Wing commander asked me and my partner to do precisely this, and we sang with as much enthusiasm as we could muster. The breeze from Lake Ontario kept us cool throughout the night as some people finished on their second attempt while other pairs took ten, fifteen, twenty tries. When it began to rain, the Top Five threw on their rain jackets over their scarlets without us noticing. Passing off the Square continued through out the night as more and more First Year Cadets got one step closer to becoming real cadets of the college.

With another week of FYOP reaching its conclusion, it is once again time to reflect upon the journey so far. This week was characterized by the start of the academic school year and classes beginning on Tuesday. While the usual FYOP rituals still occur in the morning and at night, the days are completely different from the previous week. We find ourselves marching around campus by ourselves from class to class, trying to find this room in Sawyer and that room in Massey. For engineering students, our schedules are tightly packed, while our comrades in the arts have more time to reflect. We still find ourselves struggling to stay awake, as the days are long and so are some of the classes. But the class sizes are also fairly small compared to a regular university; there are no teachers with megaphones or microphones here. The professors are intent on creating a focused learning environment; In particular, the ban on cellphones is a rather intriguing difference from other universities.

We First Years march around the campus with our heads held high, making sure to properly greet our senior Cadets as well as making sure to salute the commissioned officers. Slowly but surely, we are starting to feel like real Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College. Truth, Duty, Valor.

Fighter Flight – OCdt Magee

I believe FYOP is good as a concept because it introduces candidates to the school standards that are higher than what they were in basic training. It’s also good to help students become familiar with recognizing other students, staff, and places around campus. Having almost constant contact with upper year students is helpful to answer any questions as well.

One aspect of FYOP I enjoy a lot is the traditions that are still followed today. Squadron specific traditions, like passing off the bathrobes or sneaking up on our FYOP staff in the woods, and the school traditions, like Sports Day and Passing off the Square, are fun and make the first years feel more welcome at RMC.

Passing off the Square was challenging but enjoyable. It was difficult because some of the standards for drill were different than what they were at basic, and coordination was difficult with the noise of the crowd, but it was still achievable. Overall, the student coordinators, staff, and the crowd were supportive and cheering us on, making it a positive, memorable experience.

All in all, I think that FYOP is challenging but a good experience to set yourself up for success at the College. You can tell the staff care about their flight and want you to succeed.

Kaeble Flight – OCdt Smart

I have been on FYOP since August 24th 2019. In the past week, it has been a flurry of activity. I had a day as IC of my flight, we had the FYOP Regatta, the start of classes, three large inspections and the meeting of our academic “parents”. For me personally, I love FYOP and the institution as a whole. I’m learning lots of traditions and rules for how to act around campus. For my day as IC I had to prepare myself to lead my flight through the squadron commander’s inspection, the first major inspection by an officer we faced here at RMC. To start off the day, we had PT in the morning at Fort Henry hill. My flight mates and I ran up and down the hill multiple times, with many pushups, sit ups and planks in between. For most of the day after that it was briefings and, for the most part, inspection preparation. The flight put in 110% working hard helping one another and making sure all the details were right. The feedback we received for our effort was positive, our collective efforts had paid off. On Saturday August 31st, we had our largest inspection yet, the division commander’s inspection! Again, our flight worked together to improve upon our previous results and do better than before. This inspection went decently and lessons were learned, standards communication being the largest point. The next major event for us this past week was the FYOP Regatta on Monday September 2nd. The regatta was an excellent bonding experience for my flight and within the squadron as well, all of the academic years came out to cheer us on and the feeling was special. My flight worked hard in practicing, strategizing and the carrying out of our plan. The canoes were to take twelve cadets, we had only ten able to participate and still managed 6th place, our total time being 8:24 to complete the challenge. The final and perhaps most exciting event was the introduction to our academic parents. We started off by being “sent to bed” for messing up real bad. We were awoken to loud music and of course yelling. The Second Year Cadets took us on a run and challenged us to come up with a personal reason as to why we should be part of 4 squadron. After that we were taken to the cafe in sawyer building and introduced to our academic “parents”, along with food and bathrobe gifts, mine being a shark suit, the mascot of 4 squadron. We learned things about the school and who will help us out when we need it. This past week has been amazingly memorable, I look forward to the coming weeks and school year!

Romeo Flight – OCdt Cunningham-Reimann

The second week of FYOP tested the Officer Cadets’ mental resilience through the balance of school and challenging activities in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. For many Cadets, this week was their first exposure to university life and classes which makes the second week at RMC difficult to balance adapting to a new environment while keeping up with the demands of FYOP. The challenging aspects of starting classes were navigating through the buildings, especially the Sawyer building due to the different floors, modules and rooms, staying awake in class and concentrating during study hours. Although the navigation was hard to figure out at the beginning, it became easier due to the helpful Cadets in Second, Third and Fourth Year that gave instructions to the First Years on the whereabouts of their classes. To add, we were also given a tour of the academic buildings from our FYOP staff prior to starting classes which put Cadets more at ease before the first day of classes. Secondly, from the observations made in class it is clear that the Cadets had a challenging time staying awake because of the very physically challenging morning physical training sessions and the length of our day doing activities with the FYOP staff. On the upside to the second week of FYOP our flight participated in the Regatta, the Passing off the Square and the Harrier Race. The FYOP staff prepared us very well for each of these events allowing the flight to win third in the regatta and finishing the harrier race first out of all the First Year flights. The second week developed our flights teamwork and strength to make us more prepared for the obstacle course. Overall, the second week was hard to complete due to the new environments the Cadets were exposed to; however it was rewarding with all the fun events the flights participated in and the strength it built in our flight.

Tango Flight – OCdt Gordon-Guimont

“Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, AGHH” is the sound we wake up to every morning at 5am. I jump out of bed and as fast as I can I put my running shoes on, grab my canteen, do my five chin ups, and run as fast as possible down the stairs before the song ends. These past two weeks of FYOP have been both the most arduous and rewarding of my life. Learning that my body is capable of doing so much more than what my mind thinks and to overcome that voice in the back of my head that says I can’t keep going, has been nothing but an enormous reward. One of the best days we’ve had so far as Tango flight was Saturday September 7th, the Sports day. We pushed ourselves to our maximum to reach the best possible time during the Harrier Race, 23 minutes. We then continued our 110% mentality and went full energy in every sport we played against other squadrons. This was then followed by a barbecue and the Recspo where we were able to learn about different RMC clubs. The final competition started at 13h00, tug-o-war. With sweat and hard work, 7 Squadron won third. The news that made this day the most rewarding for Tango flight was hearing that 7 Squadron won the overall sports day. Screams of joy and satisfaction were shared throughout the whole squadron. These past two weeks have been challenging, however with teamwork and determination I am certain that Tango will be able to overcome every obstacle in the upcoming week.

Whiskey Flight – OCdt Sekyewa

This week has been packed. Starting Saturday, the flight pulled together and pooled our skills together to prepare for the Division Commander’s inspection. We worked morning and afternoon, ironing shirts, sweeping floors, and perfecting our beds. It was stressful but worthwhile. On Monday, the flight worked together again for the College’s annual First Year Regatta. In 2 laps the entire flight piled into a massive canoe and paddled our way down the pier. Though we didn’t win, Whiskey flight showed the Cadet Wing that we mean business. Tuesday onwards has been the beginning of the school year. Travelling around campus has been cool and starting new classes has been crazy. So far I’ve only gotten lost four times in Sawyer building which I consider to be pretty good. Upcoming this weekend is the RECSPO, where we check out all the recreational clubs we can join this year. I’m excited!

Warrior Flight – NCdt Sudan

The second week of FYOP began in an unusual manner, following a quick dinner and some intense inspection preparation, we met our second year “academic parents”. The first night was split into challenges for First Years to win their ceremonial bathrobes and ask the Second Years for advice. The night was extremely beneficial in raising the morale of the flight; hearing the Second Years’ experience and stories helped the flight feel more normal about their mistakes and punishments. In general, the week was entirely different from the first week with school starting on Tuesday. The main difference the Cadets noticed was the amount of time they spent with the FYOP staff. During the first week, every minute of the day was spent under supervision and instruction of staff, unlike this week. The only time spent with the FYOP staff was during morning and evening physical training, the rest of the day was spent in class. Moreover, being able to walk to our classes without being supervised by staff makes the flight feel a sense of belonging to RMC. Despite having more free time due to spares and lack of homework, the week has been quite busy outside of school. Many Cadets have spent their spare periods and free time polishing boots and studying College knowledge to prepare for the Director of Cadets’ inspection and Passing off the Square events, respectively. The events are at the end of the week and will mark only one week from the Obstacle Course. Cadets have been working extremely hard preparing for both events as they strongly affect the flights’ order of march on the Obstacle Course. Parade training on Wednesday morning strengthened this intuition as Cadets prepared for the badging ceremony.  In conclusion, despite the lack of stressful timings enforced onto the flight by the staff, the week has been extremely busy as Cadets prepare for upcoming events.

Victory Flight – OCdt Bender

For me, the First-Year Orientation Program at Royal Military College is the most challenging and most rewarding experience ever. It is meant to push junior cadets past their limits to show them what they are capable of individually, but also as a team in flights. FYOP takes approximately 20 First Years from all over the country who don’t know each other at all and turns them into one unit. We learn to trust and work efficiently together to accomplish anything, from team building activities to inspections and more. Just today, my flight tackled the 12-foot wall, something that there is no way we could have ever done two weeks ago when FYOP began. We have grown so much closer and do our best to enjoy this difficult time together by helping each other to be better every day. There are also tough parts about FYOP,  like the stress, lack of sleep, physical training, and lack of freedom, but they teach discipline and grit, two things that you cannot go without in a military career. These hard parts will help us to appreciate the College and all the good things about it to a heightened degree once FYOP is over. The staff work hard to show us that we can go farther than we think we can and to work together because that is the only way that we will succeed. They also have a little bit of fun with us sometimes too. The activities planned like the Regatta, Obstacle Course and many other events show us First Years the school spirit and pride that all the students have at the college. I know that no other post-secondary school in Canada has the type of togetherness and school spirit that RMC does, and the foundation of that ideology is built during FYOP. The memories that I have made so far during FYOP will be with me forever.

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

Kaeble Flight – OCdt Skvortsov

The second week of FYOP is a challenge for both the FYOP staff and First Year Cadets. Sunday afternoon’s Regatta presented high stakes for all aspiring First Year Cadets, as their standing in the race directly affected the starting order of the flight in the Reunion Weekend Obstacle Course. The mixed backgrounds and experiences of the Cadets allowed for excellent mentorship opportunities for those most familiar with the sport. Embarking on the canoe that afternoon was for some their first ever exposure to watercrafts. Kaeble flight’s teamwork and arduous effort secured them sixth place in the regatta. This week was also the beginning of classes for the Cadet Wing. For the First Years this was the beginning of a four-year long challenging yet rewarding academic journey. However, with the help of their peers, mandatory study hours, the success centre, and of skills such as time management developed during the last weeks, they have all the tools and support required to succeed in their programs. As a FYOP staff, our responsibilities only continue to increase. The Training Wing has vested much trust in us, which leaves Third and Fourth Year cadets with a controlled environment to develop leadership skills: events such as morning physical training sessions are fantastic opportunities to coach and mentor First Year Cadets. Furthermore, the successful execution of mandatory study hours relies entirely on the flight staff to supervise the Cadets. Personally, I believe that as a FYOP staff at this institution, our most important responsibility is to set the example of the best Officer Cadet that we can be. By adopting the slogan of “Truth, Duty, Valour” into our lifestyle, we become ambassadors of the College’s values. Furthermore, reflecting the College’s four pillars through ourselves demonstrates personal discipline and the desire to succeed that can easily motivate and inspire First Year Cadets.

Romeo Flight – Élof Rouhani-Langlais

La deuxième semaine du Programme d’orientation des élèves-officiers de première année (POPA) s’est amorcé avec une activité cohésive inter-escadrille, la Regatta. Nous nous étions longuement préparé à cette compétition. L’esprit de corps de l’escadrille était au rendez-vous. En tant que personnels du POPA, nous sommes de plus en plus fiers de nos premières années! Ils ont terminé en troisième position lors de la compétition! En outre, l’évènement a permis à la plupart des membres de l’escadron de se réunir autour d’un même esprit d’équipe pour encourager les premières équipes.

La transition entre les activités liées au programme et le début de la session d’automne a été pour la plupart difficile. La fatigue se fait de plus en plus ressentir. Le balancier entre les devoirs et les responsabilités du POPA nécessite encore quelques ajustements.

La course « Harrier Race » et la journée sportive ont permis de renforcer l’esprit de corps. En effet, ils devaient compléter la course sans laisser personne derrière. Tout comme la Regatta, la course est un élément-clé de la coupe du commandant en plus d’être déterminant pour le classement des départs pour la course à obstacles. De surcroît, la journée sportive permet d’initier les premières années aux autres membres de l’escadron grâce à de diverses compétitions de sports d’équipe entre les escadrons/divisions.

Nous sommes enthousiastes d’entamer les préparatifs de la course à obstacles qui s’approche à grands pas!

Tango Flight

Before starting classes, FYOP candidates took part in the Regatta, a yearly event where the different flights row against each other to show who’s the best. As FYOP staff, we had to make sure our flight was ready for the event, meaning a lot of preparation went into this. Le reste de la semaine était composé de cours, comme nous en avons l’habitude depuis plusieurs années déjà. C’était notre responsabilité de s’assurer que les candidats ne manquaient de rien, et c’était un bon défi de ramasser tout le matériel dans un temps limité. Le samedi suivant, l’école a participé à la course Harrier, soit 5 km, qui prend place sur la péninsule. The FYOP staff and candidates had to run together and finish as one, and the flights were ranked based on how long they took. Tango flight ran really fast and was able to outrun several flights that started before them. Even if the flight struggled at some point during the race, they always followed our pace, and never gave up. Après cela, c’était l’heure de la journée sportive, où tous les élèves de l’école s’affrontaient au-travers de différents sports. At lunch, the candidates had the opportunity to look at the different clubs offered at RMC during the RECSPO event, and sign up for whatever they’d like. As FYOP staffs, we could guide our First Years towards clubs they would maybe like to sign up for, and answer questions they might have before referring them to the club’s president. Puis, en après-midi, les escadrons se sont affrontés au tir à la corde. This was one of the first time where FYOP candidates and FYOP staff could cooperate fully on something together, as this was a 20-on-20 game. This was a hard competition, but Tango, alongside Wolfe squadron, managed to end up in 3rd place. Pour la journée sportive, grâce à l’effort fourni par tous les membres de Wolfe, l’escadron a fini en première place général. L’équipe de POPA était fière de l’escadrille Tango, pour l’effort qu’ils ont mis dans cette journée a permi à Tango de se démarquer des autres escadrilles de première année.

Merritt Flight – OCdt Gibson

It began with the FYOP Regatta event. This competitive event, which consists of a canoe race, places First Year flights in direct competition against each other. To add to this stress, the respective squadrons of the First Year flights come to encourage their comrades by offering support and motivation to the recruits in order to install a sense of squadron pride and a sense of belonging. Under the disarray of adrenaline and stress, Merritt flight did not achieve the result that we expected to have. Despite the heartbreak of this defeat, it served as an important lesson on mental resiliency and stress management.

On the night of the regatta, the RMC tradition of bathrobe night also took place. Here, under careful ruse, the new members of the squadron met their Second Year mentors who help them and guide them throughout the academic year, and are highly involved with the First Years throughout FYOP, in an effort to keep their morals high throughout their hardship. After the Shakespearian drama of bathrobe night, the Second Year and First Year flights of Montcalm Squadron enjoyed pizza, movies and some much needed rest.

Last week was also the start of the academic portion of FYOP, as the Cadets of RMC started their school year. Throughout the week, they would start the introductory lectures in their classes and met their new teachers for the session. First Year Cadets often needed help to find their classes or navigate around the campus, but their FYOP staff were always around to guide or answer their questions.

The week ended with the Passing off the Square event, where the First Years, once again supported by their squadrons, went through a circuit on the parade square. This circuit consisted of a series of drill maneuvers, culminating with face-to-face trivia questions about College knowledge. I am proud and happy to say that our flight stood out as one of the best squadron because of their quality of drill and knowledge.