Camden Military Academy - Review #17
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||1986-1989|
|Sports and Activities:||I participated in rifle team and drill team. I was a cadet 1st lieutenant and the training officer for the cadet battalion.|
|College Enrolled:||Defense Language Institute|
|Home Town, State:||Rock Hill, SC|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
CMA introduced me to a structured environment, in which I was given certain expectations and was then able to work toward meeting them. I can't speak to the experience of any other boarding schools as I only went to the one, but the environment at CMA turned my academic career around.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
This one's easy. I was a punk kid who was staring at a life of failure, both academically and otherwise. I went from failing and being left behind to being a cadet officer and on the Honors List, which I attribute to the Academy's emphasis on academics, and to other things. See, CMA was the first place I ever saw that there was point to succeeding, there was a point to bothering to try. While I can't really compare CMA to other boarding schools, I've always felt like the fact that I didn't end up in prison is the best thing that happened to me in boarding school.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
It's probably the same with any boarding school. I was terrified when I first went to CMA, but it faded quickly once I got into the routine. What I would do differently today is, I'd try now to get stressed about things like military rules, which at the time I thought were the point of going to military school - and I'd pay closer attention to academic opportunities, which was the real point.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Others may have had different experiences, but for me, school had a purpose for the first time - even if it did take me a while to see it. When my grades started turning around, the whole picture started making sense, and then I felt more and more like I belonged there, like the school was doing something for me. i would say that the decision to go to CMA was what ultimately allowed me to graduate at all.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Don't let it overwhelm you. Keep your stress level down by managing your time well.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Although a military school, CMA stresses academics over military education. They have a mandatory, monitored study period every weeknight (when I was there it was from 7:30pm to 9:45pm), during which cadets must be studying at their desks in their rooms. Also, classes were kept small and teachers afforded a great deal of personal attention to each cadet. Teachers were available to tutorial periods after the class day, and we often went to class on Saturdays. I've been told that the diversity of classes offered has improved since I graduated, which would be in keeping with national trends.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
All cadets are required to participate in some form of physical endeavor, although not necessarily a sport. I didn't know much about the athletic program while I was there, beyond lettering in rifle team and drill team, which aren't really sports but did satisfy the physical requirement. I think the Academy saw athletics as secondary to academics, and didn't really put that much emphasis on the development of a good football program, for example. I think our football team won two games my senior year, which was a 100% improvement from my junior year - but my memory might be a bit off. I think CMA's athletic program enjoys more attention today than it did while I was there. I know the present headmaster was the football coach and gym teacher back then.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Okay, this is where a place like CMA shines. Kids from all over come into this heavily structured environment, and they have to adjust. This isn't something that's done at the front office or in the classrooms, but in the dorms ("barracks") and within the cadet rank structure itself. A new cadet is accountable to other cadets for his behavior, which makes dorm life something of a meritocracy. Most of us did very well in this environment, and were set up mentally and emotionally to continue to do well after graduation. Merticracies work.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Open, family-style meals. Eight cadets to a table. All meals were prepared in a small kitchen by a small staff, under the supervision of a head cook (I guess that was her title) who'd been there for 20 years. Cadets are seated by company and eat with their peers.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
When I was there, we went into town for church (this was before they built the chapel on campus), and very little else. It was possible to be granted "leave", but I only took advantage of that once or twice. Honestly, cadets try to stay away from the local element, who tend to resent them over perceived socioeconomic differences. Again, this may have changed since 1989.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The "social life" was almost entirely contained within the school. Everyone I knew was a cadet, with a few notable exceptions from church, who I only saw on Sunday mornings. Television use was limited, and this was before the Internet and cell phones, so there was a bank of pay phones behind the guard house. Literally, there was very little contact with anyone outside the school. The people I went to class with were the people I ate dinner with, and the people I went to rifle team practice with, and drill team practice, and then I saw the same people the next day. It can be a difficult "social life" for a teenager, but it also provides for fewer distractions from one's academic pursuits - which is the whole point.
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