Saturday, May 22, 2010

Father Time at boot camp, entering week 10

Two and a half months I've been here, I arrived March 13th and if everything goes according to plan on the 18th of June I'll be done and on to my next posting. As time marches on the training gets tougher and tougher, but I'm holding strong and having made it this far I'm not going to stop. The CF does allow recruits to ask for a voluntary release after 5 weeks, but that isn't even on my radar, I just add it for those who might be curious.

I didn't realize I was claustrophobic until this past week when I had to crawl through a maze in a sewer pipe that was pitch black. Down on my hands and knees the darkness closed in on me and I had a panic attack. After screaming "I HAVE TO GET THE #### OUTTA HERE" I soon realized that with 20 guys behind me the only way out was forward, so moving as quick as I could I scurried ahead and jammed the butt end of my weapon into the ass of the guy in front of me. After pulling back my weapon he told me to keep my hand on his foot and he'd get me through...and he did. Canadians never fight alone, we hang tough together, the second time through I was fine.

Still more tests await me, field training comes in weeks 12 and 13 along with a week of sleep deprivation, but I took parental leave with both my kids so I'm sure I'll survive.

For any forty somethings thinking of joining up I'll offer some advice. Firstly get in shape before you get here, there's lots of running, lots of push ups and sit ups and lots of physical training. Those who don't meet the minimum physical standards on arriving are sent into training which lengthens the stay is this little corner of hell. Before joining I used to run 5k two or three times a week with plenty of sit ups and push ups. Two weeks back I managed 45 sit ups in one minute, not too shabby I think....the top guy in our section of 15 or so did 50, but he's only 19 or 20 years old.

Oh yeah, and be prepared to deal with the juvenile behaviour of "kids"...most of whom consider breaking up with a girlfriend in grade 10 to be their most stressing life experience. I can handle the stress of basic better than handling the stress of dealing with freaked out teenagers.

That's enough for now, thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions. I do check back from time to time and may add to this space on the holiday Monday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Life at boot the age of 43

As you may have noticed this blog has more or less gone silent, those who've kept tabs know its because I've joined the Canadian Forces, a buck private recruit at the age of 43.

I didn't come to this decision lightly, and I have found it even more challenging than I anticipated. Obviously the physical component is very taxing, but frankly I'm not doing too bad at all keeping up with the twenty somethings on my platoon. More difficult for this soldier is the adjustment to military life, realizing that you are at the beck and call of your superiors 24/7/365. That is of course as it should be, military service inherently means that you put yourself second and your country first.

Basic training is 13 weeks long and on Monday I'll be embarking on week 8. Everything is designed to see how the individual copes with stress, be it physical, mental or emotional. Being in my forties is in many ways an advantage, although I do miss my children incredibly. That's something that has to be dealt with though, once fully trained if I'm sent on a humanitarian mission to say Haiti, well missing family is part and parcel of the job.

I won't have many oppourtunities to update this space but if I do I'll jot down a few lines.

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