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Around The Fleet

Running the Course:

Building Confidence

Every year, Plebe Summer begins with approximately 1,200 incoming freshmen shedding their civilian clothes and receiving new haircuts. They are introduced to their detailers, senior students who will provide mentorship that both shapes and humbles in equal parts, helping pave the way for plebes to one day assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

One of the many activities the freshmen, or plebes, participated in was the confidence course, designed to instill self-assurance, teaching the new midshipmen to trust their equipment, the staff and, most importantly, each other.

Built in 2001, the confidence course features ropes and platforms suspended at tree-top level, resembling a treehouse. Each section tests the future military leaders' dexterity, while presenting an opportunity to overcome fears.

As with the other training midshipmen receive during Plebe Summer, the over-arching theme of the course is one of unity and teamwork, Kirk Woolfolk, the confidence course manager, explained.
Three photo collage of Plebe confidence course.

"We had one plebe who was really afraid of heights and talked himself out of going up the wall," Woolfolk recalled. "After several minutes of talking to him, two of his [detailers] geared up and went through the course with him.

"It was not only great to see him overcome his fear, but it was great to see the leadership of his two upper-class detailers," Woolfolk continued. "It took almost an hour to get him through, but what he and his classmates got out of it was an unforgettable moment."

According to Woolfolk plebes are encouraged to take what they learned this summer and apply it to their lives, both personal and professional.