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O-Week: Not Your Normal College Orientation

UH-60 BlackhawkSo you’ve been accepted to college, you’ve packed your bags and are on your way to school? You’re dreading orientation because you’ll feel all alone? There’s another alternative to normal orientation that you might not have known of. Army ROTC gives you a chance to try something new.

Starting a new chapter, meeting new people, taking on new challenges is what freshmen look forward to in college.  Orientation is a big part of this. It can help you make friends, learn your way around campus and give you a chance to ride in a blackhawk.

Army ROTC has it’s own Orientation week. You learn to shoot, rappel and the Army way of life. It takes all the pressure away from being new at college and puts you in a constructive and high speed environment where you feel like part of a team. This experience is in place to not only help acclimate you to your new life but welcome you into a tight knit group of people who strive for more than your normal college experience.

It not only helps you learn your way around campus and get ready for morning classes through early morning runs, but helps you to gain confidence and camaraderie through small unit challenges and training. You will very quickly make friends while having fun and pushing your limits.

The orientation process can be a formative time of your freshman year. The ROTC O-week is designed to help orient new students to Army life as well as life on campus. This is a short but effective process that happens over the course of 3 days.

When you first arrive you will be given all the equipment you need to look like a G.I. After that there is a few hours of introductions and just getting to know each other. This is where you can ask any questions that you may have about anything army or college related. Then they take you up to learn how to repel. After a few training runs on 10′ walls then you can take a run at a 70′ rope.

After that you’ll begin to ease into army culture while learning terms, ranks and basic military movement and tactics. Then after ‘chow’ you’ll go to sleep in sleeping bags, on mats on the floor of Barton Hall. The next day you’ll wake up and test your physical capabilities with a Army Physical Fitness Test. The test consists of push-ups, sit-ups and a 2 mile run. This test is done to ensure that you can perform all things expected of you during training. Then you’ll get packed into vans and head to ROTC’s training area on Mt. Pleasant.

Once there you learn the basics of orientering with a basic land navigation course. There you will be taught how to use military maps and compasses to find specific points in the wooded terrain. Then you’ll be sent out to test your new skills. Once everyone finds their way back to the training area, IMT practice begins.

IMT are individual movement techniques that are employed by soldier to move more safely and tactically over the terrain. IMT involves crawling, walking and running. Each technique is used for different reasons and in different situations. Once each cadet knows these techniques, squad tactical exercises begin. This is where a whole squad of cadets works together to complete a specific mission. During these missions you employ all of the skills you have learned thus far. After the missions are complete, all cadets are fed hot chow and set u their sleep systems in a field on MT. Pleasant and ready themselves for sleep.

The third day involves one more test before celebrations begin. When the cadets wake up they are taken to a pool to test their comfort levels of swimming while wearing equipment. This is done to ensure that cadets are not in danger if they find themselves in water during other training events.

After this comes the celebration portion of the orientation. The program celebrates your learning, and completion of O-Week. First, all cadets are transported to the local airport where they get to see a blackhawk up close and personal. Then they get a ride in it. The blackhawk flies over the campuses of Ithaca, Cornell and Cortland. After all the flights are over, the cadets are allowed to change out of the army uniform back into civilian clothes.

Last event of the orientation is an Excelsior Battalion BBQ. This is where the cadets can get to know everyone on a more personal level, free from the army environment. This is a great opportunity to make friends with people you weren’t able to previously talk to during orientation. It’s light hearted and everyone has a great time.

This orientation is an opportunity for new students to see another side of college life that not many others get to see. It also allows them to test their limits and learn how strong they actually are. It is a great introduction college life and should be taken advantage of anyone who wants to be challenged. Either way   I think it’s an experience that anyone would be glad they had, after it’s over.

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