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Exciting school year ahead for CMA

Posted: September 28, 2017 3:26 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2017 1:00 a.m.

School is back in session and this is my favorite time of the year! There is so much activity and excitement on Camden Military Academy’s  (CMA) campus after a long, hot summer. Not only are we welcoming new cadets to Camden, but we are following up with some of our recent alumni regarding their early successes in their respective universities and colleges. All cadets, new and returning, have a very challenging first few weeks. Along with academics, CMA’s staff focuses on instilling the core values of integrity, organization, teamwork, self-discipline, structure as well as humility. 

CMA welcomed more than 120 new students to the cadet corps this year. Each school year, cadets are anxious and unsure what to expect during the first few weeks of each school year. In an effort to ease any homesickness, new cadets are not allowed any physical contact with their families for the first three weeks. For the first two weeks, there is no voice communication at all. Cadets are allowed to email or write a good old fashioned letter -- remember those? The majority of the first-year cadets are new to any semblance of the military lifestyle so they are very busy learning how to march, salute, make up their beds with hospital corners and pass room and personal inspections.

Also during this initial three-week period, each company of cadets must achieve certification. Achieving certification means that all of the cadets in the battalion have mastered the day-to-day basic military routines and requirements. Furthermore, upon receiving certification, cadets receive a furlough and are able to leave campus to visit with family and friends. To culminate and celebrate certification, CMA holds an annual event known as the Spartan Challenge. The Spartan Challenge, while celebratory in nature, is a time of competition between the companies. However, the competitions focus on esprit de corps. The cadets learn how to work together to conquer numerous obstacles that test their mental, physical capabilities. For example, cadets are challenged to maneuver through a maze while being all tied together with numerous aquatic distractions and obstacles. The teamwork that is required during the day long competition begins to forge the bonds of brotherhood amongst the cadets that will last a lifetime.

On the third Friday after school registration, our first parade of the year is held for parents who are visiting their son for the first time in three weeks to see what all they have learned in such a short time. After the initial shock of the site of their son with a military style haircut, most parents notice even more changes. Parents tell me every year that their son has a new posture and a new confidence about themselves. There is usually an outpouring of emotion from both parents and cadets, which is a beautiful thing to witness as the cadets and parents recognize this metamorphosis.

During this same time of year, many of our recent graduates are reaching out to the staff and faculty of their high school alma mater. Actually, many former cadets stop by the campus and visit as they are embarking on a new chapter in their life: college. They too, like CMA’s first year cadets, are anxious about the unknown and uncertainty of their futures. However, I always reassure them that Camden Military has prepared them for whatever college life presents. I often remind them to reflect on their first few days at CMA and how nervous and insecure they were. Then I quickly ask them to remember their feeling of mastery and accomplishment after a few short weeks in a brand-new school environment and life setting.

Additionally, I enjoy listening to past cadets beginning to reflect and appreciate their time at CMA. My favorite and often recurring message from recent alumni is that every night at 7:30 p.m., they have to urge to study. That simple statement is music to my ears because studying at that time was instilled in them at CMA, as the mandatory study hall at CMA begins each night at 7:30 p.m. sharp! However, that is a very small example of the numerous skills provided by CMA to help insure collegiate success. Faculty and staff will continue to offer support and encouragement to our grads while in college and beyond. 

As you can probably tell from reading my articles, I really love my job. There is no greater feeling in the world than helping a young person, or any person, overcome challenges that they may have felt were insurmountable and then watch them achieve their true potential. I mentioned earlier that this is my favorite time of the year and it truly is because I get to witness firsthand the feeling of accomplishment and pride of both current and former cadets. 

Here is to another great school year!


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