New Braintree, MA: My father is alieutenant in the Massachusetts State Police and has always wanted me tofollow in his footsteps. The state police have a week-long programdesigned to give high-school students an opportunity to see what theState Police Academy is like. Its official name is the Student TrooperProgram, but I call it Boot Camp!
My dad thought it would be agreat chance to toughen me up. When I arrived, there were 115 students,only 12 of whom were girls. We were told the basic rules for the weekand then the sergeant in charge left and told us to sit silently.
Twenty minutes later, 10 troopers came rushing into the roomyelling and screaming. One started to read off the attendance list. Whenhe got to my name, he came over and stuck his face six inches from mineand yelled, “Are you Lieutenant H.’s daughter?”
I answered, “Yes, sir!”
“Good! I knowwhere you live and when you screw up I can drag your sorry butthome!” Obviously, having my father on the force was not going tohelp me! Then, they told us to get up and bring our luggage to thegymnasium. There they told us to hold our bags in front of us for oneminute! I thought my arms were going to fall off after 30 seconds! Nextthey told us to go in double time (running) to our rooms and change intogym clothes.
For the rest of the day we ran, did push-ups,sit-ups and were told how to address the troopers (never look them inthe eye) and other rules. We sat in silence at dinner. We were told whatto do, how to do it and when to do it. I really felt as if I were in themilitary.
That night we were told to get into formation in frontof our dorms from our rooms in 12 seconds. We all tried, but it took 13seconds. And so they made us do it again, but this time in 10 seconds!We were late again. We ended up running in and out six times! Finally,they said we could go to bed. I was exhausted and wanted to go home sobadly. I did not think I could make it through the week.
I feltlike I had just fallen asleep when the bell rang at 5:30. For two hourswe ran and did more sit-ups, jumping jacks and push-ups. Breakfast nevertasted so good! Then we learned about driving, police style. They taughtus how to maneuver in tough situations, and how to stay safe when inpursuit.
I never thought I would learn so much from boot camp.The next day we went on the ropes course. This was my favorite day. Ourplatoon was broken into five squads, each going to a different station.At one there were two telephone poles 40 feet apart with a thin wireconnecting them. We put on harnesses and were told to climb up to thewire and walk across. Two people would go at the same time, so when wegot to the center, we would have to pass each other! I still cannotbelieve I did it.
At the next station there was a 16-foot highwall. Our squad had to get everyone over the wall. On the other side wasa small ledge 10 feet up so two people could lean over to help others.We had to plan how we were going to do this. We’d gotten 10 peopleover when we realized the only ones left were me and a guy who weighedabout 175 pounds. All the guys started to complain that we were going tofail the mission because once I got to the ledge there was no way Icould lift this kid over the wall.
Once I got to the ledge a fewguys took their shirts off and made a rope. I passed it down to him andsomehow I was able to lift him over the wall completely on my own! Istill don’t know how I did it. When we both climbed down to theother side, I turned to my group and asked, “Who said Icouldn’t do it?” They were just as shocked as I was, evensome of the sergeants couldn’t believe it. I felt sogood.
By the end of the week I didn’t want to go home. Ihad learned so much, met great people and gained new respect for policeofficers. Going through that week was one of the best things I couldhave done. It taught me respect, mental and physical toughness and thatif I put my mind to it, I can do anything. I definitely reccomend you try this! It was a truly great experience!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.