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Week 1: The Spectator Sport

Chaos and confusion

Messy bed

2005-06-26

The first week was filled with the new, the unusual, the out-of-the-ordinary, and above all else, chaotic confusion! For the first little while I felt like I was the spectator (perhaps at a sporting event) watching the action but not really participating. I had what I deemed to be the best seats in the house, to observe in amazement the workings of a very different and regimental world.

Clean bed

Thus far it has been quite overwhelming, but exciting all at the same time with many more new and different experiences than I am used to. It’s similar to being super busy and bored all at the same time. It’s hard to explain: someone else described it as surreal – I think that’s an accurate description. On the first day of class we were bombarded with so much information that I cannot really put my finger on exactly what was discussed. Luckily it was mostly administrative and likely will not show up in any upcoming assessments. In the subsequent days the flow of information did not cease, however my ability to retain did improve slightly. Nevertheless, I did recall one very important message from the earlier classroom/orientation sessions: ‘The Cadet Training Program is designed to be challenging, however with effort, unity and commitment, success in its completion is inevitable.’ – Words of wisdom from a senior member.

Needless to say, Week 1 was filled with paperwork, orientation, confusion, getting lost, inundations of information, and my favourite was of course, kit issue (uniform items) pick-up where I had the pleasure of trying on hats, gloves and parkas over body armour in 40 degree heat. (I thought Saskatchewan was a dry heat environment…?) Despite all the excitement I did manage to survive the first milestone: the PARE. In fact the whole troop (well the 29 who tested today - someone was already on the injured list) passed. Of course this resulted in a total of four people ending up on mod-b. [Ed.’s Note: Modified Behaviour refers to sanctioned variations to expected behaviour, eg: an injury requiring a cadet to be excused from certain exercises until s/he is capable of resuming the exercise safely.]

Having passed the PARE I now feel like I can properly settle in. I am continuing to unpack my stuff (both items I brought from home as well as the long list of things I have already acquired either from Walmart or the RCMP stores). My first kit issue is about equal to everything I brought - and there are still a number of things on back order. The trip to Walmart proved to be a little more successful; however they were also missing a few things. I suppose when 30 cadets all need two storage boxes, several binders, t-shirts... they don't stock thousands of items of inventory. The little field trip to Walmart however, was exciting. It was like animals at the zoo, except to the dismay and great misfortune of the other shoppers, we were not in cages. We were like a herd of animals each with our own carts (filled with everything under the sun, including the storage box - we each got one to start) blocking the isles and talking non-stop. I was stopped by three customers who wanted to know whether Walmart was having a sale on storage supplies.

These are some of the things that I can feel free to put away now. (Until tomorrow, when they tell us in Drill where everything really goes - the RCMP way, right?) Of course I did need to try some of these new items out: I have determined that the blue pants are very unflattering - regardless of who you are, the boots feel like someone has nailed 2x4 to the soles, I can eat a whole box of cookies in one sitting, and that my red gun is now forever trapped in the holster. (I tried about 10 minutes to get it back out after I jammed it in there, but to no avail - I'll have to be posted somewhere quiet I guess.)

Thus far I have met so many people. I ask myself whether I’ll ever be able to remember all of their names. My troopmates, facilitators, instructors and other fellow cadets are all quite pleasant, friendly and above all else, helpful. I was actually surprised at the level of ‘niceness’. Of course that all changed at the first Drill class. Drill is responsible for dress and deportment, which is to say that all Cadets had better make sure that kit, dorm (the phrase ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ has never meant so much), and behaviour are up to the standards at all times or you can expect to have an unpleasant ‘chat’ with one of the Corporals. These are scary encounters – possibly across the length of the drill hall – that require little vocalization from the Cadet: ‘Yes Corporal’, usually suffices! As a result of this first Drill class, cleaning, ironing and polishing have now become my ‘favourite’ pastimes! I definitely never thought I would ever iron my bed, but this past weekend that became a reality!

Some of the less taxing ‘firsts’ this week was the troop participation in a scenario. (Scenarios are training exercises where potential detachment situations are acted out and the Troop being evaluated need to respond in an effective and efficient manner.) That was lots of fun – likely the only time where facilitators will allow for (or better yet, request) inappropriate behaviour such as acted intoxication and insubordination. Another ‘first’ included attending the peer performance (Grad prep for the most recent graduating Troop) that was put on in the Drill Hall. That was fun to watch: it’s kind of like watching the Musical Ride but without the horses. None of us could believe that we would be doing the same in about 23 weeks!