It was a day of rest and relaxation for approximately 1,225 new cadets as staff, faculty, coaches and West Point community members gathered on The Plain to participate in the time-honored event, the New Cadet Visitation Day, also known as the Ice Cream Social, on Sunday at the U.S. Military Academy.
During the event, West Point’s community members came together and provided the new cadets a space to relax, interact with one another, and communicate with family in an informal setting.
Since Reception Day, the new cadets have steadily learned to adapt to the challenges of Cadet Basic Training, and now, as they reached the midpoint of CBT, they thoroughly enjoyed their momentary interlude before transitioning to the second portion of CBT (CBT II).
“One of the cadets that came in this morning broke into tears. She was just so happy to be in a home,” Col. Todd Woodruff, the director of the West Point Leadership Center, said. “When the new cadets walked into our home, they’re like, ‘this smells like home, it feels like home.’ This moment gives them a chance to relax and get away even though it’s just for a few hours.”
Woodruff hosted the NCVD in his home for 12 cadets. They enjoyed a variety of ice cream flavors as they genially talked about a multitude of topics ranging from civilian life and how it differs from military culture to reflecting on the first half of the training experience.
“Back when you were a civilian, you’d sit the way you want, move your arms the way you want, looking wherever you want — now I realize I took that for granted,” New Cadet Noah Moncrieft said as he socialized with his fellow cadets. “Then in three weeks, after you’ve gone through military training, you’re allowed to do these things again, you’re allowed to feel normal. You can even hold your phone and even that feels so strange after three weeks.”
New cadet Bethany Jablon welcomed this event, believing it created the perfect balance between developing the military mindset they need to be successful during training and understanding the importance of taking a break when the need demands it.
“I think that it’s really healthy for all of us to have this time to relax and to reflect. Something else that I think has been really great about this whole process is that you’re consistently surrounded by people who inspire you,” Jablon said. “So, throughout the hard times and the fun times, it’s really great to have people there who hold you accountable and who are there for you to have a good time with.”
New cadet Owen Hodges said he is looking forward to jumping into CBT II, which will push the cadets physically as they learn to adapt to military drills and wield various weapons as they train and eventually integrate with the Corps of Cadets during Acceptance Day in August.
“I’ve heard a lot about the second half. I’ve heard it’s definitely more physically tough, but I know the second half will consist of a lot of field exercises, a lot of hands-on tasks that also involve being with your squadmates. This is where we’re really going to form our friendships and our relationships,” Hodges said. “We’re going to be doing Buddy Team live fire so we’re going to be having our weapons on hand near our squadmates, so we really need to look out for each other’s safety.”