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US Naval Academy Summer Seminar: A Day In The Life Of A Camper

Ahh, the sweet sounds of summer. Grass being mowed, kids playing in the sprinkler, a group of campers calling out cadence as they march in formation.

Wait, do all high schoolers march in formation during their summer vacation?

If you are anywhere near the United States Naval Academy in June, you will get to see high school students participate in a summer camp that is like no other.

They will work together, experience what life is like as a Midshipman at the Naval Academy, and have the time of their lives.

What is the USNA Summer Seminar?

Summer Seminar is a summer experience program to allow rising high school seniors interested in attending the United States Naval Academy for college the opportunity to see what it is like.

The 5-day camp invites rising high school seniors to campus during the summer between their junior and senior years of high school.

They participate in light versions of Academy life and activities, including physical training, academic seminars, and camaraderie-building experiences.

A US Naval Academy summer seminar team building exercise. Image: Flickr.com

The United States Naval Academy is a 4-year undergraduate institution that trains students, called Midshipmen, to become Officers in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps.

Related ArticleHow To Get Into The US Naval Academy: 5 Challenging Steps

As one of 4 service academies in the United States, the Naval Academy combines rigorous academics with leadership and character education to produce high quality military leaders.

The application process is very challenging and competition to enter the freshman, or plebe, class each year is stiff.

Just like the Midshipmen during the regular academic year, Summer Seminar campers are grouped into squads.

Each squad is led by a current Midshipman student, who uses the opportunity to gain leadership experience.

Other upper-class Midshipmen act as company leaders and staff for Summer Seminar.

usna summer camp
Image: Flickr.com

The USNA Admissions department (and most Mids, faculty/staff, alumni, and anyone who knows how demanding Academy life can be) recommends that all interested high school students apply for Summer Seminar to see if the United States Naval Academy is a good fit.

Life as a Midshipman is unlike the normal college experience, with an above-average academic course load, additional sports and physical requirements, and mental discipline needed at every turn.

Summer Seminar can help students know if they are up for the challenge.

How to apply to Summer Seminar

To apply, high school juniors will need to visit the USNA Admissions page online before the March 31 deadline. (see a link to that application here)

Applicants will complete an online application that includes a variety of information.

United States Naval Academy Admissions specifically notes that the application must be completed in one sitting, so it helps to have the information prepared and on-hand before beginning.

This is particularly true of the personal statement, which applicants may want to work on over several days to craft the perfect essay.

Basic demographics

  • Full name
  • Birthdate
  • Citizenship
  • Gender
  • Height and weight
  • Social Security Number
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Physical address, email address, and phone number

Admissions Information

  • Congressional District
  • Primary and Secondary academic interest from menu of USNA fields of study
  • How you learned about Summer Seminar
  • Parent/guardian name and contact information

Education Information

  • Education level
  • Expected year of high school graduation
  • High School name
  • SAT, ACT, or PSAT scores
  • Class rank (if applicable)
  • Grade summary for core courses

Activities

  • Athletic participation (sports, varsity letters, special awards)
  • Non-athletic participation (ex. Boy/Girl Scouts, Community Service, Student Government)
  • Leadership roles held

Personal Statement explaining reasons for wanting to attend Summer Seminar, which is limited to 1000 words.

Navy Sports: All applicants must disclose if they have been contacted or recruited by a United States Naval Academy coach for a particular sport. They also have the opportunity to indicate if they would like to be considered for USNA Sport Recruitment.

Medical Conditions

  • IEP, 504 Plan, or educational accommodations needed
  • History of medical conditions (ex. Asthma, heart condition, vision or hearing impairment)
  • Required use of inhaler or daily medication
  • Allergies

Session Selection: Applicants need to indicate their ability to attend 1, 2, or 3 sessions based on dates.

Workshop preferences from menu of available academic workshops

What does a Summer Seminar day look like?

A typical day at Summer Seminar begins very early.

This is to mirror the early schedule that new Midshipmen will have during their indoctrination summer, should they attend the United States Naval Academy.

Campers participate in physical training from 5:45-6:30 am. Campers are organized into squads and attend all events with the other members of their squad.

This starts first thing in the morning when squadmates motivate and push each other during daily runs, strength exercises, and other physical challenges.

united states naval academy summer camp morning run

The morning physical training is held outdoors on one of USNA’s athletic fields.

Campers enjoy meals in the Naval Academy dining hall. After breakfast, campers attend morning academic workshops.

usna summer seminar coursework
Image: Jb.mil

They then attend lunch and return to new and interesting afternoon academic workshops.

Workshops are meant to highlight the various academic areas that the United States Naval Academy offers to help interested students better understand what a course of study at USNA would look like.

All Midshipmen take the same core classes, including leadership and basic engineering, science, and math.

They are then able to select a major and take advanced courses within that discipline.

Summer Seminar workshops academic workshops include:

  • Information Technology
  • Naval Architecture
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Flight Testing
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • Chemistry
  • Language Studies
  • Martial Arts

There are also academic workshops that are focused on ships and their operation, such as Seamanship and Navigation as well as time aboard the Navy training ships, Yard Patrol Craft (YPs).

Campers participate in hands-on Navy damage control and ship-driving simulations.

Leadership is a big focus at the US Naval Academy, and Summer Seminar campers are exposed to this area from the very beginning.

They participate in Ethics and Character Development workshops in additional to other academic disciplines.

Following the academic-focused portion of the day, campers participate in intramural sports and other special planned events from 4:00-6:00 in the evening.

This mirrors a typical day for many Midshipmen, who are required to participate in some sort of sport at the intramural, club, or varsity level each afternoon.

Campers have their evening meal at 6:30 and then are off to build camaraderie during squad time or an evening planned event.

This could be a movie night in the company common area, called the Wardroom, or a barbecue planned by the Summer Seminar staff.

Summer Seminar Highlights

One of the most popular portions of Summer Seminar comes at the end of the week.

Campers work alongside each other and the Midshipmen leading each squad to complete a full-day physical and mental obstacle challenge, called “Sea Trials.”

USNA Summer Seminar participants crawl along a rope during Sea Trials. Image: Flickr.com

Sea Trials includes team runs, team situps with linked arms, and relay races.

The challenge is not just physical but mental, as the event runs for hours and is very fast-paced.

Campers learn to rely on their teammates to support them and keep them motivated.

This team-oriented mentality is very important at USNA.

The mock Sea Trials in Summer Seminar is meant to give campers a glimpse into USNA freshmen, or plebe, life.

At the end of their plebe year, each class of Midshipmen wake before dawn to complete their Sea Trials.

They conclude a day of running through the woods, swimming in the river, and roughing it during other organized challenges with the pride of a successful team.

This event is the culmination of their entire first year of hard work to become the best Midshipman they can be.

Summer Seminar Sea Trials, while a lighter version, allows campers to experience that same pride of accomplishment and teamwork.

Other highlights include swimming training, damage control pipe patching, and getting to see the advanced engineering technology and equipment at USNA.

The Next Step

For campers who love the Summer Seminar experience and hope to join the next incoming class of Midshipmen, the Summer Seminar application serves as their preliminary United States Naval Academy application.

All of the information is included in their candidate file.

Evaluations by Midshipmen who lead the Summer Seminar as squad leaders are also included for each candidate that attends.

Summer Seminar is not a requirement for application or admission to USNA and many successful Midshipmen don’t attend.

But it does help the candidate fully understand if the United States Naval Academy lifestyle is for them and gives them a glimpse into what life would be like as a Midshipman.

US Naval Academy Summer Seminar: A Day In The Life Of A Camper
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Katie B.
Katie B.
A small-town Missouri native, Katie is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in English. She served 5 years as a Surface Warfare Officer, including 2 deployments onboard a Guided-Missile Destroyer and Aircraft Carrier. She has a Master's Degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Connect with Katie @katiebwriter or at www.katiemelynnbegley.com.

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