Plebe Training Part III at Marine Military Academy
Maj Harold Compton
Plebe Training contined on the LEAD Complex on the weekend of 25-26 August 2012 as the plebes are approaching the end of their training. On Saturday morning all plebes arrived at the MMA tower for their first high events where they would take on rappelling, rockclimbing and the zipline. Plebes first received a short class on proper wearing of the harness and all were dressed while being assisted by Cadet Instructors. Following briefings on safety, rappel procedures and demonstration by Cadet Instructors, all plebes moved to the ground practice station. Current regulations require that all plebe training include practicing a simulated rappel on the ground prior to moving to the top of the tower for the real thing. Although the simulated rappel does not have the element of fear of heights, plebes will practice the exact technique they will use on top of the tower. This helps to instill in them some confidence in their ability to manage the rope while lowering themself without the danger of any fall. Once all plebes had completed this phase and indicated they were confident plebe training moved to the top of the tower.
Plebe Training Completes Rappellng
Plebe training requires each plebe to complete a successful rappel from a height of 30 feet. Prior to the plebes attempting a rappel they are given a demonstration by an experienced cadet on proper technique while listening to a brief by the MMA Rappelmaster on how to execute a safe rappel. Following the brief and demonstration plebes are checked to ensure they have all necessary equipment: locking carabiner with harness, helmet, figure 8 and rappel gloves. Once they have been checked they will be to the top of the tower. During this initial training plebes will be rappelling down a 30 foot wall. Each plebe must face the moment when they will be secured to rope and told to lean back out into space. This is the moment of truth when they must have confidence in themselves, their equipment and their safety belayer. For some this part of plebe training this is a challenging moment as many of them have never been this high up on the edge of a wall looking down. Although the tower is only 30 feet high, for many of them it must look to be 100 feet up and you can see the fear in their eyes. Conquering that fear is the goal of this training and this year’s plebes did an outstanding job of doing that! All of them successfully completed their descents and are now looking forward to their next trip back to try out the helicopter skid rappelling.
Plebe Training Takes on the Climbing Wall
As plebe training moved to the climbing wall it was evident by some of the comments that most of them felt that this would be an easy task. They were soon to find out that reaching the top of the wall was much more difficult than originally imagined and many of them found themselves dangling on their climbing rope before reaching the top. Those that paid close attention to the instructions on climbing technique found that they were able to go much higher and many reached the top of the wall. Once again the conquering of their fear of heights would go a long way to making the next day’s adventures much easier.
Plebe Training Finishes the Day on the Zipline
One of the most popular high events items at the Academy is the 350′ zipline. Plebe training gave many of our plebes the chance to experience it and they had the time of their lives riding down the cable. Of course that first step off the top of the tower does take a little bit of courage but after seeing fellow plebes ride the cable most of them were excited about their upcoming ride; at least until they were standing on the edge looking down 30′ to the ground. A little encouragement from their instructor and they were off and riding. Although all the plebes did not get a chance to finish on the zipline they will be coming back in the future and those that missed their chance will get to take their ride on the cable!
Plebe Training Moves to the High Ropes Course
All of the preparatory training on Saturday would come into play on Sunday as plebe training took on the High Ropes Course. Each plebe would be required to climb 30′ telephone poles to get onto the high ropes cables and negotiate the events. The events included the Cable Traverse, Jungle Vine Traverse, High Balance Log and the daunting Power Pole. Although attached to a safety rope handled by an MMA staff member, many of the plebes were initially very nervous about being so high up. Once they had completed their first event the mood changed quickly from one of fear to fun. The Power Pole, as always, was the one event that challenged them the most. Plebes climbed to the top of a 20′ telephone pole (attached to a safety line of course), were required to stand up on the top of the pole and on command jump out and attempt to touch a rubber bouy hanging 9′ in front of them. As they jumped the safety belayer pulled out all slack and caught them 10-12 feet off the ground. and they were then gently lowered to the ground. All of the events test the plebes fear of heights and their ability to f ace and overcome those fears. This semester’s plebes demonstated and excellent ability to do just that and should be proud of their accomplishment.
Plebe Training Cools Down at the Pool and Mud Course
Plebe training needed what was on the schedule for Sunday afternoon. The hot south Texas sun had beaten down on the plebes all morning with temperatures hovering in the low 90’s. A good cool down at the pool after lunch and this was followed up by endulging in a mud bath unlike anything you have seen before. Crawling under bardwire, swinging over ropes and swimming through the canal is just part of the challenge. Climbing over a mud caked wall, rolling over a low hill and jumping back into the water are all part of the fun of the Mud Course. Mothers would be shocked as the goal was to see just how dirty and muddy they could get and none disappointed as they demonstrated an expertise in this task! A cool shower at the end to rinse off the mud and another plebe training highlight came to an end.
Plebe Training Nearing the End
Next weekend will mark the final time during plebe training that they will find themselves on the LEAD Complex before graduation. Plebe training will mark this event with them taking on a series of team games that in addition to challenging their teamwork ability are also a lot of fun. Check back next weekend to read about their adventure!
Plebe Training Photos.
Check out all the photos from this Satuday’s portion of Plebe Training on the MMA Facebook Page.
Check out all the photos from this Sunday’s portion of Plebe Training on the MMA Facebook Page.
Learn More about Plebe Training and Marine Miltary Academy
Click on the image below to request information about enrollment. We are still accepting applications for the fall semester!