A Look Back: FYOP 2019 Week 3 / Le POPA 2019: Retour sur la troisième semaine

Above: Fighter Flight on the Obstacle Course. Photo by 29102 OCdt Lo / Ci-dessus: Fighter Flight sur la course à obstacles. Photo par 29102 l’Élof Lo

Editor’s Note: RMC’s First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) is a three-week introduction to College life which culminated with the Obstacle Course on Friday, Sept 13, 2019. Below are the experiences of the First Year Officer Cadets and of 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 qui a culminé 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 personnel dans leurs propres mots.

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

Alpha Flight

Our third week of FYOP is finally complete. A week dedicated to school and training for the obstacle course, we found ourselves with an entirely different challenge from previous weeks; it was not our staff who were the ones making us sweat, but rather the obstacles that we practiced over and over again. And yet we pushed through; after many obstacles, sore arms and shoulders were a common. And the obstacles are no laughing matter; starting from the rope bridge to the infamous twelve foot wall, each presented a unique but challenging environment to demonstrate our physical and mental resilience. I distinctly recall looking at some of the obstacles before doing them and thinking that there was no way I could manage it, and others I thought would be fairly easy and would serve as a break from the others.  Come the day of the course, any illusions were shattered. Our flight rushed into each obstacle with speed and aggression, including some which we had never had the opportunity to attempt. The march into the lake with all our kit was exhilarating and tiring, as we struggled to stand tall and not slip in the mud, either on shore or while we were submerged in water. The obstacle prior, the crawl under a bridge while wearing gas masks, was an exercise in claustrophobia. Wearing a foggy gas mask while desperately struggling to move kit was quite frankly terrifying; I was not sure I was going to make it out from under that bridge alive. And yet I did and we carried on forwards; each obstacle tiring us out further. By the final obstacle we were fatigued, but the roar of the crowd as we sprinted back was uplifting. One more final sprint to our faithful stone frigate, and we all grabbed on to the bell and shook it as hard as we could; FYOP was over. Our hard work over the past 3 weeks culminated in the obstacle course, and we were now first year members of the College for real.

Fighter Flight – Élof Bouquin

Pour commencer, je dirais que le module 1 du Qmbo nous a plus ou moins préparé au standard du Collège Militaire Royal Du Canada. Les premières inspections n’ont pas été un franc succès et pour cause deux facteurs principaux : notre habilité à effectuer les tâches rapidement et notre capacité de communication au sein du flight. Par des moyens souvent physiques, notre personnel de FYOP nous a fait comprendre que le travail d’équipe est impératif. Beaucoup (moi le premier) avaient tendance à travailler seul ou avec leur binôme de chambre sur leur inspection. Cela nous a quand même pris une semaine et demi avant d’avoir une bonne cohésion d’équipe. Ce fut durant les quatre jours précédant l’inspection du DCdts que nous avons pu nous rendre compte de l’ampleur de la force du travail d’équipe. Le niveau atteint en général pour ce qui attrait au pliage du linge, au repassage des chemises, à la propreté et précision des lits ainsi que le polissage des chaussures a nettement augmenté. Il est important de mentionner le dévouement de nos staffs pour nous aider dans l’amélioration de notre standard, ils ne se contentaient pas de balancer les lits dans la cage d’escaliers si ce dernier était mal fait. Ils nous donnaient et nous donne toujours de judicieux conseils pour chaque élément de l’inspection. Leur minutie nous a permis de toujours progresser et leurs commentaires positifs, lorsque nous les méritions, nous a encouragé à continuer dans la bonne voie. Lors du jour de l’inspection, nous n’avions jamais été aussi prêts et unis. L’inspection se déroula quand même bien dans son ensemble, mais Mr. Pecora et Mr. Nettie nous ont bien entendu vite fait comprendre que le chemin vers la perfection est long et qu’il nous faut redoubler d’ardeur pour oser s’en y approcher.

N’ayant que 5 soirées pour se préparer pour cette épreuve, je suis étonné du produit de notre labeur. 5 soirées, 5 fois 2 heures et demi de pratique de techniques de passages des différents obstacles. Dans ces 2 heures et demi de pratique journalière, chaque minute était précieuse et notre efficacité lors de ces périodes s’est reflétée dans notre performance durant la course. Il va sans dire que la course est une épreuve révélant l’esprit d’équipe et la cohésion du groupe la complétant. Ces dernières qualités avaient été travaillées précédemment lors de l’inspection du DCdts. Nous sommes donc arrivés la première soirée d’entraînement avec une bonne connaissance des forces et faiblesses de chacun. Nous avons pu ainsi déterminer une stratégie, conseillés par nos staffs, qui n’a nécessité que très peu de changement pour certains obstacles. Il est cependant important de noter que certains élèves officiers, faisant partie des équipes compétitives universitaires, avaient le devoir de se présenter à leur entrainement chaque soir ce qui les empêchait d’être présents aux pratiques. Nous nous entrainions donc souvent en sous effectifs ce qui nous compliquait vivement la tâche. Cependant la visualisation du parcours complet la vieille a été très utile pour nous préparer mentalement à cette grande épreuve. Le jour J nous sommes partis dans les derniers et avions donc l’avantage de pouvoir prendre des pauses si nous rattrapions l’équipe en avant de nous. Nous avons réussi à le faire quelquefois et cela a été une aide précieuse tout au long de la course. Chaque épreuve était difficile mais réalisable et nous a poussé au dépassement de soi. Bref, ce fut une expérience exigeante, formatrice et cohésive qui restera à jamais gravée dans la mémoire de chacun des élèves de première année.

Grizzly Flight – OCdt Martens

The third week of FYOP has mainly been spent in preparation for the Obstacle Course and the badging parade. All the flights have been using their free time to perfect their skills in hopes of winning the Obstacle Course. Wednesday morning and night the First and Second Year Cadets had long practices to prepare for the badging ceremony. By the time Friday came, everyone was very excited for the Obstacle Course to begin. Even the FYOP staff were hyped up and having fun with the cadets. The Obstacle Course was fun but also challenging. Everyone pushed themselves as hard as they could and never gave up. I found that Grizzly Flight had such a strong team dynamic, and the teamwork required for the Obstacle Course came naturally. We held each other accountable and were able to motivate each other so we could stay together. The wall is one of the most historic obstacles on the course and is often a challenge for most flights. Grizzly Flight stood up to the challenge by getting all members of the flight over the wall. We struggled to get the rucksack up; however, we made up for it through our last man manoeuvre, which is the best part. Unfortunately, Grizzly Flight did not win, but we had a great time and have become even closer as a flight. The badging parade is also one of the most important events for a first year cadet at RMC. It’s the day where we officially join the college and the start of a new role in the college. It was an honor to receive my badge from a member of the Old Brigade. It was amazing to see all the friends and family that came out to show their support this weekend. Good luck to everyone in their academic studies for the rest of the year!

Kaeble Flight

05:53. La chanson résonne dans le couloir. Si je n’étais pas déjà réveillé, je serais tombé du lit. Je suis fatigué, pas que je n’ai pas bien dormi, mais nous avons eu une dure soirée la journée précédente. Voyez-vous, nous avons tous assisté à la cérémonie funéraire pour nos meilleurs amis les roches, morts de faim puisque nous avons tous oublié de les nourrir pendant le diner. C’est ainsi que Spencer, le récipiendaire du prix Nobel de la roche la plus en paix, et Juan Carlos Estebez le troisième, une roche immigrante illégale en provenance du Mexique, ont rejoint la Navy au fond des eaux autour de la péninsule.

07 :30. Après le pt, c’est le temps de déjeuner. Alors que nous sommes tous autour de la table, prêt, notre IC fait sa présentation…ou…eh bien… notre IC et nos trois commandants de sections font tous leur présentation… en même temps. Je ne peux m’empêcher de sourire. « Why are you smiling miss Grenon? » J’essaie de faire disparaitre mon sourire, qui semble cousu à mon visage. Un simple « You can eat » est dit par le IC. Sauvée par la cloche !

07:50 Temps d’aller en classe! Et comme plusieurs personnes, je n’aurais jamais cru dire ça, mais j’avais hâte d’être assis devant un bureau avec papiers et crayons. Évidemment, sur la route, il ne faut pas oublier un petit « good day senior » et « good day » aux personnes qui travaillent fort pour que le collège soit une si belle place. Autrement, un petit oubli, et il faut se préparer mentalement pour un peu d’exercice physique en soirée.

16:40. C’est le temps de pratiquer la course a obstacle. L’escadrille au grand complet est concentrée. Notre IC explique son plan. Cette année, « Shark leads the way! » Tout le monde est prêt dans la starting box. Un, deux, trois, go! It’s «live or die in this day», because we are entering «into the last good fight we’ll ever know, once more into the fray. »

We are Kaeble flight! And if we learned one thing during FYOP, it is teamwork and to always give our maximum. Obstacle course, here we are! Whatever is happening, you won’t break our spirit, because Kaeble flight is here, and Kaeble flight is a whole!

Romeo Flight

As the final week of First Year Orientation Period came around I found myself and my flight mates in a very excited and motivated state. The arrival of the last week not only meant soon to come freedom but also preparation for the obstacle course. Opposed to other tasks such as inspections and passing off the square the flight and myself seemed to have a different mood and overall a higher positivity towards preparation for this event. The dynamic throughout the team was at an overall high throughout the past weeks and we had challenges daily to test these bonds we have made. I also feel that the relationship between the fyop staff and the flight changed significantly in this last week. The first two week had a harsher relationship which in many times made me try to avoid interacting with my staff. At the arrival of the last week this changed to the point where if I am to have a problem at the school they would be one of the first points of contact. The day of the obstacle course and the badging parade where an amazing experience that ended FYOP in a way that left the Cadets very fulfilled and proud of finishing the three weeks. During the obstacle course seeing and hearing 6 Squadron supporting and cheering us on was a great feeling. This day made me feel like I earned a spot in 6 Squadron and the acceptance behind Sauve after the parade was a very nice touch. Week 3 was a week with a lot of anticipation and excitement and was a great way to finish off FYOP.

Whiskey Flight – OCdt Sekyewa

FYOP’s almost over. Looking back, it feels like somehow the longest and the fastest 3 weeks of my entire life. This last week has been full of prep for today – the Obstacle Course. Every evening this week, my flight put on our helmets and gloves and practiced some of the more technical obstacles we’re going to encounter this afternoon. Every time we practiced, we worked smoother and more effectively as a unit. Overall, I’d say that FYOP (especially the stressful aspects) prepared us well to push ourselves for the Obstacle Course. We also had a ton of parade practice for the Badging Ceremony, which is Saturday morning. The First Years will be officially a part of the Cadet Wing and we will receive our RMC cap badges in front of our family, friends and the Old Brigade. As FYOP comes to a close, I can confidently say that it has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Learning how to keep going and to stay disciplined even when I’m exhausted and while maintaining a level head is what I’ve taken away from this experience. All of the skills (and the fitness) I’ve gained has come from my awesome staff. I’m looking forward to winning the Obstacle Course today!

Warrior Flight – OCdt Jamieson

The last week of FYOP in Warrior flight was certainly just as busy and just as stressful as the previous two if not more so when the flight began to feel the pressure of the upcoming obstacle course. Even during the last week, the discipline and restrictions placed on us First Years never relaxed; we were always kept to a very high standard and disciplined when needed up to the very last day. During FYOP week 3 there was also a greater emphasis put on schoolwork by many of the professors which made our study time that much more important.

However, things such as homework often had to be postponed by the First Years like myself emailing our professors for extensions due to the mandatory Obstacle course practice which took away our study time. With that being said I believe the mandatory Obstacle course practice to be absolutely necessary, as many of the varsity students were not getting as much practice as those left with the FYOP staff after academic periods. In the end FYOP week 3 focused mainly on obstacle course practice, with class workloads becoming gradually larger and had no lack of discipline or stress put onto us First Years.

Merritt Flight – Élof Séguin

Les réveilles accompagnés de musique frénétique suivie d’entraînement matinal, accompagné de nombreuses inspections par jour vont finalement prendre fin. Cette troisième semaine était dédiée à la pratique de la course à obstacle, à la préparation en vue de la parade d’insigne et bien sûr, à rester à jour dans nos devoirs et leçons. En préparation pour la course à obstacles, nous avons utilisé cette dernière semaine pour planifier comment chaque obstacle serait franchi et avons mis en œuvre ces plans pour en voir l’efficacité. Tandis que pour la parade, nous avons pratiqué du début à la fin chaque manœuvre pour nous assurer qu’au jour “J” aucune erreur n’arrive. Le travail d’équipe et la camaraderie sont mis à l’épreuve tout au long du POPA, mais lors de la troisième semaine, tous les Élofs se resserrent encore plus, car nous savons que seulement ces deux valeurs nous aideront à franchir la ligne d’arrivée de la course à obstacles. La dernière semaine du POPA est une semaine extrêmement exigeante, mais tellement gratifiante pour les nouveaux Élofs du RMC. La réussite de la course à obstacles ainsi que l’obtention de l’insigne du collège furent des moments tellement valorisants pour les Élofs. Toutes les larmes, les fous rires, les nouvelles amitiés, les moments plus difficiles, mais surtout toutes les belles mémoires créées lors des trois dernières semaines valent plus que tout l’or du monde. Maintenant que le POPA est terminé, les premières années font officiellement partie du collège avec le reste des étudiants. Ils pourront désormais consacrer la grande majorité de leur temps à leur étude, la pratique de leur langue seconde, développer leur compétence de leadership et finalement se préparer en vue de l’évaluation physique qui arrive à grands pas.

Hunter Flight – OCdt Roy

The last week of FYOP was a very satisfactory conclusion to the three weeks of FYOP, especially with the fact some of us had just departed from The Mega when we arrived three weeks ago. Our Section Commanders, CFL and CLF 2IC maintained, perhaps even surpassing, their standards towards us throughout the week as we prepared for the impending obstacle course. It was very beneficial for us to spend our time between class and study hours practicing the more technical obstacles of the obstacle course, as we absolutely needed that practice for the Friday event. Some of us overcame their fear of heights climbing the 8 and 11 obstacles, which would have a massive hindrance for us had we not been provided any time for practice whatsoever.

Our staff was also very open in giving advice and tips towards improving both ourselves on the obstacles as well as keeping ourselves safe. They made it evident for us that while they wanted us to be fast, simply blazing through the obstacles was useless if it caused the flight to rack up detrimental penalties. As such, much of the afternoon trainings were made for us to perfect our techniques on the obstacles while keeping a fast pace.

The obstacle course in itself was as taxing as we were lead to believe, making the completion of the course so much more enjoyable. Despite the accident on the 11th obstacle, it made finishing the last obstacle even more intense as we tried to finish not just for our flight, but also for those who couldn’t finish with us.

The badging ceremony was as expected, and the weather made it so much more comfortable compared to the tight and enclosed practices we had in the gym.

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

Kaeble Flight – OCdt McCabe

FYOP has been easily the most rewarding thing I have ever had the privilege to be involved in. From day one to now, one day out from the 2019 obstacle course, I have overseen the development of Kaeble Flight from a section commander’s perspective. I’ve come to know each and every Cadet personally, shaping their experiences, instilling discipline, sharing successes and addressing failures. The initial few days consisted of many failures amongst the First Years, which allowed the staff to address them and use our expertise of life at RMC to their advantage. As time went on, they began to develop themselves, perfecting their drill, beds, inspection standards, time management skills and many of the other qualities required of a Cadet at RMC. Along the way, we made sure they developed themselves mentally and physically, with the use of our morning PT sessions and strategic placement of mental stress. Initially their ability to cope with both mental and physical stress at the same time was poor, however with proper training, they have come a long way and are prepared for the mental and physical stressors of life at RMC. Last weekend, Kaeble Flight participated in the Harrier Race and the Cadet Wing Sports Day. The Harrier Race served as a great opportunity for them to understand what it is like to push themselves for a longer distance as a flight, and they did an amazing job at it. We saw them come together as a cohesive unit and the staff were extremely proud of them for it. In addition, on Sunday, we had the Director of Cadets inspection. After nearly 3 weeks of preparation, they efforts came to fruition when they finished 2nd overall in the college for the inspection. This past week specifically, the First Years have been attending classes every day and we have begun mental preparation for the obstacle course. They are feeling more prepared and as the days go on and Kaeble Flight is set to lead the College at first in the order of march for the obstacle course, it is apparent now more than ever that sharks lead the way.

Romeo Flight – OCdt Balagtas

The third week of FYOP was the week where all FYOP staff and First Years could see their hard work come to fruition. The week started off with the Director of Cadets’ inspection where the members in each respective First Year flight worked together to produce high quality, standard rooms for the training wing staff and members of the Top Five to see. For Romeo flight, after micromanaging inspections for two weeks and bringing up the new First Years’ standards, we took a more laissez-faire approach for their inspection to see how they would function as a team given only a goal. Despite not placing too well in the overall rankings for this inspection, this self-lead teamwork set them up for the upcoming week of obstacle course practices.

Our flight had an IC assigned to each obstacle with the task of planning, leading, and executing their respective obstacles. Though the first run-throughs of the wall, cargo-net and rope bridge were not the best, our First Years learned from their mistakes and fine-tuned their plans every night. As we got closer and closer to the obstacle course and badging parade, we continued to emphasize the importance of teamwork and determination to get them through this final sprint. The first years spent long hours practicing drill and continued to improve at every obstacle course practise. We eventually got to the last night of singing “Goodnight Saigon” together with all members of Six Squadron to show the First Years that they have all these people supporting them for what was to come the next day.

Finally, the morning of the obstacle course came. The sense of eagerness and excitement filled the hallway before everyone was sent off to school. Once classes had ceased, the parade square was filled with squadron pride- an exciting sight to see for all First Years and their families and friends. The obstacle course was a proud time for everyone involved as the First Years worked their way through each obstacle while continuing to support each other. Once the obstacle course had finished, we had a celebratory swim at the dock and finally let the First Years join their loved ones. The next morning, all on parade had delivered a great performance and the first years were finally welcomed into the Cadet Wing, ready to take on the greater challenge of four years at RMC.

Whiskey Flight – OCdt Boucher

Entering FYOP as a Section Commander, I had many worries. It was my first leadership opportunity at the Military college and naturally I was not sure what to expect, nor how well I would perform. Three weeks later, I can say nothing anyone told me could have really prepared me for the rollercoaster that was ahead of me.

Whiskey Flight began FYOP unable to remember to tie their boots and make their beds. Three weeks later they ran one of the most teamwork intensive and physically demanding steps of the ROTP. Guiding the progression of these young Officer Cadets through one of the first portions of their military careers was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. Although there is a lot of work left to complete to ensure they are ready for their time at RMC, the flight has come far in such a short time. Given enough time and guidance from the staff, these Officer Cadets will make the College proud as they move on to their military careers.

The last week was gruelling. The Obstacle course is physically exerting and requires a high level of team-level technique. The final Parade preparations had us ensuring that uniforms were perfect and practice our precision and attention to detail. The last week had our flight focus primarily on these two events. This forms their official initiation into the Cadet Wing. I have never been more proud of a group of individuals than I was when I helped to present them their RMC Cap Badges at the Badging parade. I am elated to welcome them into the Cadet Wing and call them my peers. Here’s to three great weeks, and a semester of hard work!

Merritt Flight – Élof Gibson

La dernière semaine de l’édition 2019 de POPA fit remplit d’excitation et d’action.

Tout au long de la semaine, les membres de l’Escadrille Merritt s’entrainaient de manière intensive pour la course à obstacles. Leur degré de motivation face à cet entrainement était bien encourageant à voir.  Chaque soir, nous avions seulement besoin de mentionner les obstacles sur lesquelles nous pratiquerions, et les troupes se ralliaient avec enthousiasme à chaque station.  Ils planifiaient leur plan de match pour le jour de la course,  et ils le simulaient sur place avec le même degré d’intensité qu’ils auraient lors du jour J. Par contre, cet effort était bien demandant sur les soldats, et il était physiquement possible de voir les résultats de cet acharnement incessant. Leurs bras et leurs jambes étaient tous meurtris, et leur visage indiquait qu’ils étaient bien épuisés.  Outre,  après beaucoup de glace et de sommeil, ils étaient prêts.

Pendant que Merritt se concentrait sur l’entrainement, le restant de l’escadron de 10, et plus particulièrement les deuxièmes années, était bien actif dans l’arrière-plan en préparation pour la cérémonie d’ouverture. Honorant la tradition de l’Escadron, nos deuxièmes années prirent l’entièreté de la soirée de jeudi à vendredi pour construire notre voiture pour la festivité. Cette voiture, représentant notre mascotte, un dragon,  a su détourner l’attention encore une fois cette année. Elle adornait des ailes, une tête et une magnifique peinture blanche (notre couleur) avec des écailles pour représenter la peau du dragon. Le tout était complimenté par un contingent d’élèves officiers aux couleurs de l’escadron qui l’accompagnait, et d’un haut-parleur sur le capot qui jouait la chanson de DMX : X Gon Give It to ya (version propre). Dans le cas du choix de la chanson, le X représente notre numéro d’escadron.

L’anticipation au jour J pendant les sessions d’entrainement, mêler aux festivités d’ouvertures, ont su motiver les membres de Merritt pour l’évènement.  Nos membres se sont démarqué par leur niveau d’habilité à naviguer le circuit, et par leur intensité lors de la performance.  Ils ont même été en mesure de rattraper l’escadrille qui les précédait à deux reprises. Comme résultat final, Merritt termina deuxième au classement, et cette position était très bien méritée. Nos membres ont de quoi être pour cet accomplissement.

Hunter Flight – OCdt Tan

The First Year Cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada were in their final stretch in completing the First Year Orientation Program this past week. During the exciting final week of FYOP, all the flights were busy planning for their final challenge, the Obstacle Course. This obstacle course consists of 12 obstacles that highlight teamwork, communication and physical fitness. The IC of every flight used this week to carefully establish a plan that he or she believed would get their flight through the obstacles the fastest. Without teamwork, no one can be successful. Physical fitness and mental endurance was also tested throughout. The drive and determination I saw in all the First Years within Hunter Flight was unbelievable. Following the obstacle course, the first years received their RMC cap badge the following day. On the Badging Parade that took place on Saturday, the First Years successfully became fully fledged members of RMC after three long weeks of gruesome training. Every RMC Cadet has had the honor of being presented with the RMC cap brass by a member of the Old Brigade. This time it was the Class of 2023’s turn.