Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 1, 2011

Summer Like a Midshipman

Plebe Summer Fun

Plebe Summer Fun

When a high school graduate selects USNA, their first year begins right after high school graduation, before June is even over. It is called Plebe Summer and is filled with exercise, work, study, tests, no phone calls or IM’s. No contact with anyone.

Once they are in the Ac Year (still their first year at USNA, but classes have started), it gets easier, but not much. At the end of  each school year, they get a short leave if there’s time in between other duty requirements, including summer school, summer cruise(s), working at Plebe Summer activities as Cadre or other functions.

What I’m saying is, this bias for action is a mindset that moves well beyond summers-are-for-relaxing that most teens adopt like skin. Look at Plebe Summer. It’s the last summer before college. All the Plebe’s friends are playing, beaching, vacationing, and the newest USNA Midshipmen are running with logs on their shoulders, paddling rubber boats, learning to shoot weapons, cleaning their rooms for inspection.

So, I’m thinking, high school students should try a bit of that, see if it fits them before committing. How’s this sound:

  • Summer school. Get classes out of the way to make room for the AP classes they need later.
  • Summer sports. That’s kind of like running with logs on your shoulders. My daughter was in club soccer, which competes all summer. She also took boxing at a gym. She could have gone more often, but said she got tired. I bet the Cadre don’t care if you’re tired.
  • Summer enrichment–take a class just to make yourself better. Well, truth be known, my daughter didn’t do that. She said she needed to relax a little bit, Mom. OK. I remind her that Winston Churchill said, “It’s no use saying you’re doing your best. You have got to succeed.” (I might have butchered that a bit, but you get the idea). She said she was succeeding. OK. Now, five years later, I see she was right.
  • Be so busy, you must learn to react well under stress and think clearly under fire. In my daughter’s case, not a chance. Her stress doesn’t come close to the level of ever having to figure out how to fit an elephant in a refrigerator.

Here’s a slideshow of images from my daughter’s Plebe summer:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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  1. Wow, sounds like a fun-packed time! I like the idea of high school students taking a similar “sampler” too. Love the photos – thanks for sharing!

    • Most high school students don’t realize that once a Midshipman, the Navy owns you. You are an employee with a paycheck (surprising, isn’t it) so you’re lucky to eke out two weeks off from them. They’re serious about getting their money’s worth, too!

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