Writer looks his future in the eyes -- sees pushups


Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Five hundred chanting teenagers stood in the Naval Academy's auditorium, dedicated to one single chant. As a U.S. Navy Midshipman approaches the podium, the chanting disappears and the 500 sit and become attentive.

How is it possible that 500 teenagers can be silenced? It's called NASS.

Officially known as the United States Naval Academy summer seminar. Each summer, three sessions are held in June at Annapolis, Maryland. Each session is one week long and is the introduction to the Naval Academy. Teenagers from around the globe hoping to find their future in the Navy, apply and plan for a summer of new acquaintances and experiences.

I had the fortune for my application accepted by the academy as a participant of the first session. After handing in the papers I waited for the flight to Maryland. The day came and when I entered the main hall of Annapolis, a chill ran up my spine. I approached a midshipman at a table, gave her my name and received my instructions to my room.

The battalion 500 teenagers was composed of four companies, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. In each one were four platoons, composed of five squads, each with six teenagers. I was assigned to Charlie company, fourth platoon and fourth squad. My squad mates came from Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, even one from Sicily, Italy. We came to test our ability as future Midshipman.

In those six days I attended workshops on martial arts, history, naval navigation, engineering and war games. Every morning we did physical training on the football field. We ate meals as a battalion in the main hall. We learned how to drill and competed against the other platoons.

The most exciting event was called sea trials. In it we ran a two mile obstacle course in the woods, jumping over barriers, climbing down ropes and running up hills. There was a wrestling competition in the mud, and other physically and mentally demanding challenges.

Our return left us exhausted, but there was a greater challenge ahead. On the first day we received a paper that contained the Navy and Marine Corps ranks, mission of the academy and other Navy aspects to be memorized.

On the night the Midshipman of Delta company challenged Charlie company. Many of us failed and did a lot of pushups. It lasted for half an hour and was not in any way personal. After it was over we found that the Midshipmen who were hard on us were quite nice.

Doing NASS was one of my best experiences and that one week was by far the best part of any summer.

This article is the opinion of Thomas Osterman. Osterman is a senior attending Skyview High School.

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