Reflections on Week 2 of FYOP at RMC / Réflexions sur la semaine 2 de POPA au CMR

Above: First Year Cadets and their Staff challenge RMC Harrier Race during the First Year Orientation Period (FYOP) of 2020. Photo courtesy of RMC Public Affairs / Ci-dessus: Les élèves-officiers de première année et leur staff défient la course du Harrier pendant Le programme d’orientation des élèves-officiers de première année (POPA) de 2020. Photo gracieuseté des Affaires publiques du CMR

Élof Gagnon (First Year)

Le programme d’orientation des élèves-officiers de première année (POPA) est une étape importante dans l’intégration des nouveaux membres des FAC au sein du collège militaire royal de Kingston. Dès la première journée, chacun d’entre nous ressent de la pression et de grandes attentes de la part du personnel en charge. Les journées sont exigeantes physiquement et mentalement. Du matin jusqu’au soir, on doit toujours fournir le maximum d’effort possible dans tout ce que l’on fait et espérer atteindre la perfection sans quoi l’équipe aux commandes va s’assurer de nous faire comprendre de manière stricte et directe nos erreurs afin qu’on ne les reproduise plus. L’expérience POPA est très intense, mais elle permet aussi de comprendre plusieurs aspects de la vie militaire tels que l’importance du travail d’équipe et du leadership. Ces trois semaines permettent vraiment de créer une cohésion de groupe et de prendre soin les uns des autres quoi qu’il en soit. De plus, on apprend l’importance de bien respecter les délais assignés et de ne pas les dépasser. Finalement, on apprend à devenir attentifs aux détails qui nous entourent, que ce soit lors d’une inspection ou en ce qui concerne la façon de porter nos vêtements. Pour ma part, malgré tous les défis que j’ai rencontrés pendant ces trois semaines, j’ai apprécié l’expérience POPA et je sais que cela va m’aider à devenir un meilleur officier au sein des Forces armées canadiennes.

OCdt Hamel (First Year)

While it goes without saying that FYOP poses a significant challenge to First Year cadets like myself, I cannot express how lucky I believe us First Years are to have been to be able to still arrive on campus and go through FYOP with the outbreak of COVID-19. Since my arrival, us First Years have been confined to our division cohorts as a necessary precaution to prevent any spread if there were to be an outbreak on campus, but these rules have been taken very seriously and because of it my flight and I have made it through FYOP without issue. One of many other complications caused by the pandemic was the postponement of MOD I basic training to this upcoming summer, which has made FYOP my first experience in a military-esque environment of strict standards and timings. This alongside other new procedures have made my FYOP experience different from that of the staff, but that hasn’t hindered them in giving their all to teach us how to succeed as cadets of RMC as they have before us. One day of FYOP that I will never forget was the day of the Harrier Race, where both my flight and FYOP staff ran the 5 kilometre race side by side, never leaving anyone behind. It was in that moment I believe we truly came together. From that point on it was no longer just our staff supervising 18 individuals, but rather a working cohesive team. This was a powerful moment for the entire flight, and it is because of the circumstances and pressures created by FYOP that we had the opportunity to come together as a team; a team that can at last take on the obstacle course. Fighter Flight will push through!

NCdt Martel (First Year)

The goal of FYOP is to push the new Cadets in various ways to help develop leadership, physical fitness, teamwork, as well as some basic military skills and knowledge. This year offered many new challenges such as having the cadet wing divided into cohorts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. FYOP 2020 started with a bang for Grizzly Flight as we found our kit had been scattered around Fort Frederick and we had just over an hour to get everything into our rooms and inspection ready. Many things had to be changed due to COVID-19 but the staff did their best to continue with some of RMC’s traditions. Cadets participated in some competitions such as the Harrier race, an assault boat carry, and inspections. Throughout FYOP, time was the biggest challenge as we were constantly being given timings to meet for everything we did. There were some tough days but with each obstacle we faced, Grizzly flight grew closer. The final days of FYOP are marked with the obstacle course, which is the ultimate test of everything we’ve learned followed by the cadets receiving their RMC coin and cap badge. It is safe to say that FYOP 2020 was unique but we have all made memories that will last a lifetime.

OCdt Poitras (First Year)

As the morning PT routine began, we climbed down from our beds, barely rested, physically exhausted. Our hearts pumped with an increased cadence, matching our marches of the previous night. As we descended the stairs and formed up, we began our planks. The time we spent on the ground was dependent on your ability to keep track of your kit after so few deserved hours of sleep. This was it. The First Year Orientation Period had us gritting our teeth for the past week, after a short warm up period of Military Indoctrination.

As we ran ourselves to Navy Bay for our first hours of Physical Training, we glanced at each other, quickly recalling the minor mistakes we may have made. We hoped the staff didn’t catch the discrepancies as we ran into the cold dark morning. Finally, our routine changed from a focus on inspection standards to classes. We got our laptops, booted up our Wifi pucks and settled into the first few real hours of peace we had gotten since FYOP began. We knew the true test was still awaiting us. We had completed the Director of Cadets’ challenge, a simple warm up to the event marking the end of the full blast music and relentless “tasking”. The Obstacle Course still looms over the horizon. In two days, we finish an unforgettable journey that marks every single one of us with a brand of memories that we will carry on for the rest of our lives. The preparation work we have made so far does no justice to the grandeur of the O-Course. As we blow out the bugle, comrade in hand, we will reach for our first chance at glory. This is our moment to grasp it with a firm grip and conclude our journey with a mailed fist to adorn our dress.

OCdt Wood M. (First Year)

Getting to the end of FYOP, I now realize all the things I have been able to accomplish that I never thought possible. We have been pushed mentally and physically every day to be better, smarter, and faster. Leading and being led by staff or peers, we have all been able to develop a new understanding of what kind of leader we want to be. I honestly can say that without my flight mates I never would have ran the time I did on the Harrier Run, gotten my room up to standard as fast, or continued to push myself as hard in morning PT. We have gone through this process together and I know without a doubt that I can count on any of them in a second to support me and hold me accountable for my actions. With the Obstacle Course fast approaching, we have begun practicing some of the more challengin obstacles. We know the practice is nothing compared to how it will feel the day of, when we have to put that leadership, teamwork and trust to the test. Nonetheless, if I had to pick any team to run the O-Course with, it would be my flight. My family. PURPLE NATION

OCdt Gemmill (FYOP Staff)

The First Year Orientation Program (FYOP) this year has been different in a few ways. First Year cadets were quickly brought into the RMC lifestyle with the end of their 2-week Military Indoctrination Period (MIP) and straight into FYOP. Their day to day activities consist of morning PT supervised by PSP staff, inspections of their rooms, and academic classes online during the day. While doing this, COVID rules and regulations have been in place to keep them safe, with cohorts being established to create physical distancing and wearing masks in non-segregated buildings. 10 Squadron (Merritt Flight) currently in Haldimand has proven themselves as a cohesive team that performs well under pressure. As staff, we ensure the practice of RMC knowledge, important positions within the Cadet Wing, and the importance of adhering to timings day to day. Even with the challenges we throw at them, the First Years eventually achieve success, despite having to correct themselves occasionally. Their hard work has continued with mistakes or corrective measures being administered as required.  Although distancing has been a challenge, creating circumstances not seen in the past, Merritt Flight have been meeting their challenges with eagerness and encouraging one another. They are given three meals a day to fuel their day to day tasks and must face college challenges like the Harrier Race, passing off the Square to test their “College knowledge” and finally the Obstacle Course. These activities administered and run by the Cadet Chain of Responsibility serve to introduce them to life at the College and welcome them into the Cadet Wing. The Badging Parade will be their final confirmation which we are all very much looking forward to!