.... what was to come next would be a chance for the Cadets to have one of their finest moment, this would be their chance to show the Instructors, Miss Anna, Sgt Lynch, and themselves what they have learned as part of Class 07. Following their break the Cadets were ordered to hit the beach. The marched to the edge of the lake, still under a light rain, then under a heavier downpour for the hoses of the Bogota Volunteer Fire Dept. Engine Co #1. The Cadets were march to the shore of the lake and waited further orders. This wait was short lived as they plunged themselves into chilly waters of an August night. Back and forth they went in and out of the lake. Faces into the sand, then squat jumps in the water, push-ups along the shore line to be followed by jumping jacks back into the water.
All of the training of discipline, effort, trust, and respect would be put on display for one final test. The orders were given by at a steady pace only to be broken by informing an individual Cadet to move towards " The Pit". Along the way each Cadet had to do a series of exercises, which main purpose seemed to be how much sand could a Cadet leave the beach with on their bodies. Once arriving at their destination they were met with questions and eggs, more questions and some Whipped Cream, more questions followed by flour, and syrup. A few more question and more eggs to top it all off with. Then some were topped off with rainbow sprinkles. Each Cadet stood tall and held their ground, trusting no harm will come to them. Showing one more time the focus and comment to their duty that may not have been apart of them only one week earlier. The nervousness and fright of Orientation Day has been replaced by a resolve to face whatever is thrown at them and survive it. When they were finished being turned into a "Little CupCake" then they were ordered to clean themselves off. This was not to be a warm bubble bath from their Parents, but, by a cold shower from above by fire hose system in the middle of the night. After the last Cadet emerged for the pit is was time to move to the next stage.
Finally the Cadet were allowed to leave the pit and return to Home Base. On their way across the sand Cadets were greeted by Sgt Lynch. He told each Cadet of the pride he felt towards each young Woman, or Man for standing tall and facing the challenges put in front of them. Some cold, and shaking, other sore and tired but all determined to to finish their journey. Once they came under the shelter of the base, and wrapped in the warmth of their towels the exhaustion over overcome by smiles. The fear, and uncertainty of the night was replaced by comradeship and pride of telling each other of what had just happen. As Cadet congratulated each other some slipped off to "sick-bay" to check on two of their classmates withheld for medical reason. One for a wrist injury a day before, the other an ankle injury earlier in the evening. Even though this two did not do everything the others had done, they are still members of Class 07 and were included in the classes success as a group.
On a rain soaked dark night in August under the harsh glare of spotlights Sgt Lynch stood in front of them all and ask of them to perform on more duty. The Class was brought to attention and waited for what was to happen next. Sgt Lynch and Miss Anna walked through the ranks and stopped at each Cadet. He looked them in the eye and ask if they would accept their dog tag as a symbol of becoming Cadet in The Bogota Emergency Services Youth Academy Class 07. With their voice left in the pit, tears left in childhood, each in turn took their tribute with a firm hand. Some smile, others had to sneak a peek of the new jewelry all must of had thoughts of what they have just accomplished. The importance of this ceremony was shown as Charlie Squad Leader Owen Rosado steaded squad member Andres Cabrerea whose ankle had force him out of the Challenge Race. For his effort Cadet Cabrerea would recieve his dog tag before his squad leader. The final dog tag was awarded to Class Commander Maryann Gesmundo. Cadet Gesmundo is the first Academy Cadet to be given the duty of overseeing the entire class. This, and with a naming of leader for each squad, is the next stage in the Academy program to develop leadership responsibility in their Cadets.
The only unfortunate part of this ceremony was the announcement by Instructor Martin Perez that this would be his final duty for Class 07. Due to personal business would unable to attend their Graduation on Tuesday -15-August. Instructor Perez wanted to use this time to thank the Cadets for their hard work, sacrifice, and fortitude in standing up to the challenges of the Academy and to their responding to his orders.
Instructor Perez was then given a round of applause by his fellow Cadets in a loud heartfelt thank-you for his leadership to Class 07. Soon after base camp was broken down, and members of the Academy started the trip home. As the caravan made its way through the dark headed to Bogota the exhaustion from the past four hours disappeared in song and celebration. Class 07 arrived back at the Steen School to proud Family members awaiting their return. The Cadets emerged from the vans more disheveled than they left and with a odd smell of pancakes in the air. Their Cadets were greeted as heroes and while a joyful exchange hummed over the sidewalk, there may have been a thought of, will they be able to stay awake long enough to change for bed. With another thought of should they be let in the house for a real shower, or just wash them down outside.
Links to the Bergen Record's Story about Duty Day 4 : http://www.northjersey.com Bogota and http://www.northjersey.com BPESYALink to NJTV news story about Duty Day 4: http://www.njtvonline.org Bogota Youth Academy
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