For college students, collectively shouting out “drink beer” is a fairly commonplace activity. But when they shout it in time with every stroke of a paddle on a boat they will soon capsize, that’s an indicator of more than just a wild weekend.
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets of the Leader Development and Assessment Course’s 2nd Regiment participated in the water confidence course July 7. Two of the course’s four lanes required them to work as a team or in pairs.
On the Zodiac Assault Course, Cadets entered the water in their boots and fatigues and manned a sturdy black zodiac. Everyone took up a paddle and worked to get their strokes in sync by shouting a phrase the platoon had decided beforehand.
Cadet Michael Shoop, Alpha Co., 2nd Regiment, of Central Michigan University and Muskegon, Mich., said going into the water wasn’t easy because it was before noon, and the temperature did not rise much above 65 degrees until after lunchtime.
“The hardest part was getting in the water,” said Shoop, who is prior service. “But once [I was] in, it wasn’t that bad. It was kind of nice being in the water.”
After rowing the zodiac to a designated point in the water, Cadets had to capsize the boat, then right it again. On their way back to their starting point, they also executed a beach assault. Because the event was timed, platoons competed against each other.
Additionally, Cadets worked with a battle buddy to efficiently secure their equipment inside their ponchos on land before pulling the pack through the water. If Cadets tucked the ponchos tightly and twisted the rattail ends taut, their packs made it in the water, around brush and back on land mostly dry.
Michael A. Drummey, non-commissioned officer in charge at the site, a military science instructor at Boston University, said the most important thing for Cadets to learn from the poncho raft and zodiac lanes was the dynamics of leading and following.
“If you’re in charge, be in charge,” said Drummey. “If not, listen.”
Cadet Sheneika Johnson, Alpha Co., 2nd Regiment, a student at Alabama A & M University and Huntsville, Ala., said relying on the team was crucial to the course.
“You know the people who wear the same uniform that you wear have your back,” said Johnson.
Shoop also emphasized the importance of teamwork.
“It just helps to build camaraderie and stay motivated, even if you don’t want to do it,” he said. “Fake motivation is better than no motivation.”
Because 2nd Regiment is nearing graduation, Drummey said the site was a good one to save for the end.
“It’s a fun lane…I equate it to Six Flags,” he said. “If the weather’s nice and the wind is low, you can’t ask for a better way to end things.”