While most everyone in the surrounding communities was just beginning to think about a first cup of coffee, candidates of Class 10 of Sunburst Youth Academy at Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base were introduced to their life for the next five and a half months.
After separating from their family yesterday, the candidates — not yet cadets — were rousted from bunkbeds around 5 a.m. this morning by their military cadre. The two female platoons were sent out first, followed by the two male platoons.
Wearing a reflective safety belt and whipped on by the cadre, each candidate was expected to jog a half mile to a parade ground before the sun rose above the horizon.
Already at the parade ground were graduates from prior classes who volunteered to serve as role models for the bleary-eyed candidates. The graduates lined the north and sound rims of the parade ground, standing at ease with impassive expressions. They knew exactly what the candidates were thinking, because each had gone through exactly what the candidates were now starting.
Also on hand were officials from the Orange County Department of Education, and one stray reporter from Orange County Breeze.
Academy Commandant Sergeant First Class Michael Scott led the “shark attack” aided by the cadre. The goal of this first literal wake-up call was to get the attention of the candidates and begin to form unit cohesion — break them down to build them back up.
In order to train the candidates how to use the skills needed to carry through to a better life, Sunburst must first shake the candidates loose from previous behavior patterns that have led to deadend and disaster.
So this first morning was a lesson in following instructions, and in suffering consequences for not following instructions. Push-ups. Duck-walks. Sprints. Running in place. Drinking water. Working together to execute an assigned mission.
Although each and every candidate voluntarily signs up to attend, by no means all candidates are willing to let go of self-destructive behavior.
Sunburst personnel know this, and know how to get past this — and they also know that they can’t save every single candidate.
But they won’t stop trying unless a candidate stops trying.
Good luck, Class 10! And work hard!
Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel of Sunburst Youth Academy Class 10 candidates during their first morning’s shark attack.
- Sunburst Youth Academy to graduate class 9 (oc-breeze.com)
- Sunburst Youth Academy Class Nine graduates, loudly and with enthusiasm (oc-breeze.com)
- Ten-mile beach run (oc-breeze.com)