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advice for plebe summer plebe summer podcast Apr 30, 2024

Insight and Tips for Plebe Summer Success at the United States Naval Academy


Two former Plebe Summer Regimental Commanders share their thoughts on the Academy Insider podcast episode #036 about how one best prepares for plebe summer and sets themselves up for success at the United States Naval Academy.

Success during plebe summer and success at the Naval Academy is not going to look like what it looked like in high school. - Grant Booker, USMC

Grant Vermeer ‘17 is the host of the Academy Insider podcast and his guest is Grant Booker ‘23. The podcast may also be found on YouTube.


Former Plebe Summer Regimental Commanders' Advice


Grant Vermeer

Grant Vermeer '17 was the Plebe Summer Regimental Commander for the USNA class of 2020. His role as Regimental Commander was documented on CBS Sports' Hoops Confidential before the Army-Navy basketball Star game that year. He was also featured in a Navy Sports article.


Grant Booker

Grant Booker is a distinguished class of 2023 graduate of the US Naval Academy who went on to become a commissioned Marine Corps officer. Grant was the 2023 Class President, a Squad Leader, and a Plebe Summer Regimental Commander.

Hailing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Grant's deep-seated passion for the military, inspired by his Marine grandfather, led him to the Academy. During his time there, he not only excelled academically but also took on significant leadership roles, including class President and serving as the regimental commander of Plebe Summer. Both Grants’ firsthand experience and unwavering commitment to the Academy make them an invaluable source of advice and inspiration for future midshipmen and their families as they navigate the challenges and opportunities at the US Naval Academy.

photo courtesy of the Midshipmen Black Studies Club 

Grant Booker's journey to the US Naval Academy began with an unyielding desire to serve his country. His first encounter with the Academy was through an inspiring conversation with a Navy officer, which sparked a deep sense of purpose within him. This encounter ignited a passion for leadership and service that ultimately led him to the Academy. Grant's unwavering commitment to his aspirations and his journey to the Academy serve as a testament to the transformative power of a single conversation, demonstrating the profound impact that personal connections and mentorship can have on shaping one's future.

In the Academy Insider podcast episode #036, you will learn about:

  • Mastering the Physical Challenges of Plebe Summer: Discover how to prepare physically for the demanding activities and training at the US Naval Academy.
  • Unveiling Insider Leadership Lessons: Learn from real-life experiences and insights shared in the Academy Insider Podcast, enhancing your leadership skills and mindset for success.
  • Overcoming Adversity at Plebe Summer: Gain valuable strategies to conquer the mental and physical obstacles faced during Plebe Summer, ensuring a successful transition into academy life.
  • Preparing Mentally for Naval Academy Success: Explore the importance of mindset and mental preparation in achieving success at the US Naval Academy, equipping you to face challenges with resilience and determination.


Navigating the Challenges of Plebe Summer

Plebe Summer at the US Naval Academy presents unique challenges that future midshipmen must navigate successfully. It is a rigorous training program aimed at instilling discipline, teamwork, and resilience in the incoming plebes. The experience requires mental fortitude, physical preparedness, and the ability to adapt quickly to a highly demanding environment. 

Grant Booker shares valuable insights from his time as a regimental commander during Plebe Summer, shedding light on the transformative nature of the experience. Booker emphasizes the importance of mindset and attitude, highlighting that success during Plebe Summer hinges more on one's mentality rather than just meeting physical standards. He discusses the significance of fostering a positive and resilient mindset to overcome challenges and stresses the essential role of leadership and teamwork in thriving during this intense period. Booker’s reflections provide practical advice for future appointees on how to approach and navigate the demanding aspects of Plebe Summer effectively.


Leadership and Discipline: Thriving at the US Naval Academy

Leadership and discipline are core principles that underpin success at the US Naval Academy, shaping the character and abilities of future military officers. The Academy emphasizes the development of leadership skills, the importance of following protocols, and the value of discipline in every aspect of a midshipman's journey. Leadership lessons learned at the Academy are instrumental in preparing midshipmen for the responsibilities they will assume upon graduation. 

Grant Booker delves into the theme of leadership development at the US Naval Academy, drawing from his experiences as a regimental commander. Booker highlights the essential role of attitude and mentality in leadership, stressing that success is more about mindset than meeting specific standards. He shares insights on incorporating positive reinforcement mechanisms, such as positive reg tables, to encourage and reward behaviors that foster leadership and positive attitudes among plebes. Booker's perspective on leading with love and investing in the development of those being led offers a unique insight into the leadership principles instilled at the Academy.


Preparing Mentally, Physically, and Academically for I-Day and Plebe Summer

Preparation plays a crucial role in success at the US Naval Academy, starting with I-Day and extending throughout Plebe Summer. Future midshipmen must prepare mentally, physically, and academically to tackle the challenges they will face during this formative period. Mental readiness involves cultivating a positive mindset, resilience, and adaptability to thrive in a highly structured and demanding environment. 

Grant Booker offers valuable advice on how future appointees can best prepare for the mental, physical, and academic demands of Plebe Summer. He stresses the importance of building a strong reputation from the outset, emphasizing the impact of individuals who can influence one's journey at the Academy. 

The two former regimental commanders' personal anecdotes, provide a realistic glimpse into the unexpected situations appointees might encounter during their initial days at the Naval Academy. His insights on the importance of being well-read and geopolitically aware offer a broader perspective that future midshipmen can integrate into their preparation strategy for I-Day and beyond.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Grant Vermeer is the founder of Academy Insider and the host of The Academy Insider podcast and the USNA Property Network Podcast. He was a recruited athlete which brought him to Annapolis where he was a four-year member of the varsity basketball team.

He was a cyber operations major and commissioned into the Cryptologic Warfare Community. He was stationed at Fort Meade and supported the Subsurface Direct Support mission.

He separated from the Navy in 2023 and now owns The Vermeer Group, a boutique residential real estate company that specializes in serving the United States Naval Academy community PCSing to California & Texas. 

Connect with Grant Vermeer, The Academy Insider here:


Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:00:06 - Introduction to the Academy Insider Podcast

Grant Vermeer introduces the podcast and explains its purpose of bringing together the Naval Academy community to share stories and insights about life at the Naval Academy.

00:01:35 - Excitement for Season Two
Grant Vermeer expresses his excitement for the official launch of the podcast as a 501C3 nonprofit organization and discusses the focus of the first episode on plebe summer advice and preparation.

00:03:19 - Background and Experiences of Guest
Grant Booker shares his background, including his upbringing in South Carolina, his inspiration to attend the Naval Academy, and his experiences as a midshipman, class president, and regimental commander of Plebe Summer.

00:06:16 - Initial Perspectives on Plebe Summer
Grant Booker and Grant Vermeer discuss their initial perspectives on Plebe Summer, highlighting the challenges they faced due to their mindset and expectations as incoming plebes. They emphasize the importance of understanding the purpose of Plebe Summer.

00:11:29 - Plebe Summer Leadership Experience
They discuss their experience as detailers during Plebe Summer, emphasizing the importance of leadership and followership for both plebes and detailers.

00:13:00 - Applying for a Leadership Position
Grant Booker shares his initial reluctance to apply for a leadership position during Plebe Summer, but ultimately embraces the opportunity to lead and mentor plebes.

00:15:30 - Vision for Plebe Summer
Grant Booker outlines his vision as the regimental commander for Plebe Summer, emphasizing the importance of instilling a culture of leadership and love for the plebes.

00:19:40 - Struggles and Positive Reinforcement
Grant Booker discusses the struggles of plebes during Plebe Summer, highlighting the importance of mentality and attitude. He also introduces the concept of positive reg tables, rewarding plebes for positive behavior and leadership.

00:23:23 - Making a Name for Yourself during Plebe Summer
The guest discusses the importance of building a good reputation during plebe summer, which snowballs forward and helps create a name for oneself at the Naval Academy.

00:24:38 - Leadership and Discipline during Reg Tables
They share a memorable experience of discipline during red tables, highlighting the importance of maintaining discipline and leadership as a midshipman.

00:26:25 - Mindset and Preparation for Plebe Summer
The guest advises incoming appointees to understand the commitment and significance of joining the Naval Academy, emphasizing the need to prepare mentally and physically for plebe summer.

00:30:32 - Physical Fitness Preparation for Plebe Summer
The guest emphasizes the importance of physical fitness and provides specific advice on preparing for the physical readiness test (PRT) including running, swimming, and cadence push-ups.

00:33:24 - Avoiding Injuries and Proper Running Preparation
The guest highlights the risk of injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures during plebe summer, stressing the importance of proper running preparation and following the running plan provided by the Naval Academy.

00:34:42 - Importance of Preparation for I Day
Grant Booker emphasizes the importance of being prepared for I Day at the Naval Academy, as it sets up future success throughout the program.

00:35:33 - Additional Preparation for Plebe Summer
Grant suggests seeking out books on leadership as additional preparation for Plebe Summer, highlighting the importance of mental readiness in addition to physical preparation.

00:36:19 - Don't Underestimate Plebe Summer
Grant Booker advises future appointees not to underestimate the challenges of Plebe Summer and to also not underestimate their own abilities, emphasizing the need to define success differently in this new environment.

00:39:02 - The Life-changing Opportunity of the Naval Academy
Grant Vermeer shares his personal experience and highlights the life-changing and transformative nature of the Naval Academy, encouraging future midshipmen to not make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.

00:43:04 - The Special Experience of the Naval Academy
Grant Booker echoes the sentiment of the Naval Academy being a special place and shares his own experience of almost leaving, emphasizing the incredible opportunities and community it offers.


Transcript of the Podcast Episode:

Academy Insider Season 2 Podcast Episode - Grant Booker


Grant Vermeer: [00:00:00] Welcome to season two of the Academy Insider podcast. Academy Insider is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization that serves midshipmen, future midshipmen, and their families. At its core, this podcast is designed to bring together a community of Naval Academy graduates and those Affiliated with the United States Naval Academy in order to tell stories and provide a little bit of insight into what life at the Naval Academy is really like.

I hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much for listening and reach out if you ever have any questions.

The Academy Insider podcast is sponsored by the Vermeer group, a residential real estate company that serves the United States Naval Academy community and other select clientele in both California and Texas. If I can ever answer a real estate related question for you [00:01:00] or connect you with a trusted academy affiliated agent in the market, which you're in.

Please reach out to me directly at grant at the Vermeer group. com. You can also reach out to me on my LinkedIn page, grant from here, and I'd be happy to respond to you there. Thank you so much. And now let's get back to the episode. Hey everyone. Welcome to season two of the Academy insider podcast. I'm so excited to be officially coming to you as a five Oh one C three nonprofit organization, which I know is going to give me the best opportunity to guide, serve, and support midshipmen, future midshipmen and their families.

And I knew there was no better way to start this off than by having the first episode be all about Clevesummer advice and preparation. And when I started Academy Insider back in 2017, I was able to provide the perspective of a recent graduate, someone who's just been there. But now the reality is I'm old.

I graduated back in 2017. I'm eight years removed from my time as the regimental commander of plebe summer. I've transitioned out of the military and I'm now a full [00:02:00] civilian. So I knew that I needed a perspective that is more contemporary. And so I'm so excited to be joined today by Grant Booker. Grant is a class of 2023 graduate of the Naval Academy, commissioned as a Marine Corps officer, but most importantly for this episode is that he also served as the regimental commander of Plebe Summer during his time at the Naval Academy.

And so I think you're going to see as we share our stories and our experiences that even though some things may be different, a lot of things are still the exact same and that the mission and purpose of Plebe Summer remains consistent. In this episode, we talk about our experiences, how we prepared, and then most importantly, we give our advice based on our experiences and our observations about how midshipmen can best prepare both in an actual physical sense and tangible things you can do, as well as the right approach and mindset to bring into plebe summer.

So I hope you really enjoyed this episode. If you have any questions or comments or just want to reach out, please shoot me a message either on the [00:03:00] Facebook page, YouTube, email, whatever the case is. I'd love to get to know you, learn about your situation and see how I can help. Thank you so much and enjoy the episode.

My man, Grant. First of all, great name. Second of all, thanks so much for joining us here on the Academy Insider Podcast. If you don't mind just giving the audience a quick background about you, where are you from, what brought you to the Academy, and then a little bit of background about you as a midshipman, company activities, anything of the sort.

Grant Booker: Absolutely. So my name is Grant Booker. Uh, it's a strong first name. I appreciate the shout out. Born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Growing up, my grandfather was a Marine. Uh, and that's really what sparked my interest, uh, in the military at first and then the Naval Academy. Uh, he kind of steered me in that direction.

So I was super grateful to follow in his footsteps as a Marine. Uh, when I was at the Academy, my first couple of years there, I was boxing, um, and then COVID hit and that kind of messed some things up, but had a lot of other great opportunities. Uh, it was, [00:04:00] President of my class, um, got a chance to serve as a regimental commander for Plebe summer, my senior year, going into my senior year, and then picked up a commission, uh, as a Marine Corps officer.

And now I'm here at Marine artillery officers course out in Forest Hill, Oklahoma. So got to do all the stuff I wanted to do. Uh, I have no complaints about what the Academy gave me.

Grant Vermeer: First of all, congratulations, uh, on so many of those different fronts for anyone who's listening grants, a super humble dude to casually drop that both.

He's the class president and was the reg commander at plebe summer. Like those are things that don't come easy. We'll just put it that way. And we'll kind of talk about, I have other episodes talking about summer. Organization, hierarchy, and how that all works. But like he was the highest ranking midshipman during plebe summer.

And so we go through this episode and you're listening for all the parents out there for perspective midshipmen, people who have their appointment and may be coming like, this is the dude who is the five star for like, when you show up, you're going to have to memorize the name of the person who's in his role in your year.

Like that's [00:05:00] just, it is what it is. So, and then. Marine artillery is no joke either. So I just want to give you a big congrats for, for getting that as your MOS and going out there and doing the Lord's work, that's not an easy job. So congratulations on that as well.

Grant Booker: It's been a blessing. I get it. I give glory to God on all this.

Um, it's definitely not by my own abilities. God bless you in a lot of ways.

Grant Vermeer: It's beautiful. I love the humility. I love the grace, but let's. Let's bring this back towards Pleap Summer because this episode, again, for anyone listening is all going to be about Pleap Summer preparation and advice. So again, for context, both of us in our respective years were the regimental commander of Pleap Summer, which once you're out of the academy, it really doesn't mean much at all.

Even when you're at the academy, it doesn't really mean much. I think kind of the biggest takeaway that we'll offer to you is that we got to see Pleap Summer from a really high level, right? Like we got to see how it all worked. We saw all 30 platoons. Kind of train. We got to witness how everything happened from all aspects.

And we got to communicate with the actual officer in [00:06:00] charge of plebe summer in the commandant in the superintendent and got a really high level view of, you know, the purpose of plebe summer. So that's, that's where we're going to come to you from today. Before we even jump into that, I just want to ask you a little bit about your plebe summer experience.

When you showed up as a plebe, how was it for you? Did you like it? Did you not like it? Kind of? What was your experience going through plebe summer?

Grant Booker: Yeah. So plebe summer, I think I didn't really think about plebe summer as I was going into plebe summer. I think for me, I was really just enjoying people are patting you on the back.

Oh, congrats. Naval Academy. While I was going to be there, you're going to love army Navy. So the entire time I was getting ready to go to the Naval Academy. I was only thinking about what I was going to be doing after I was done with Plebe Summer. And that's really not the right mentality to have going into it.

You have to see Plebe Summer as the thing that you are doing. I think there were definitely times where during Plebe Summer I felt like, oh, I didn't sign up for Plebe Summer. [00:07:00] Looking back when I was 18, that was very, very naive. Yes. I was signing up to do all the really cool things you get to do at the Academy after plebe summer, but you are just as much signing up to do plebe summer.

So for me, plebe summer was tough, not physically, not academically or anything. It was tough because of my mentality. So I struggled not because of the difficulty or not because of my abilities, but because of my perspective on it, honestly. Um, and then, you know, hindsight's always 2020 looking back on it.

I really see that there were a lot of opportunities to grow that I might've missed during my summer. Um, but the value in it now, I can absolutely see.

Grant Vermeer: Yeah, dude. I'm with you. What's funny is I had the exact same like mentality and mindset as you, because Again, I was, I was a recruited basketball player, so when I showed up it was kind of like you, I was like, I'm looking forward to the, to the school year.

Like I'm ready to go play basketball. Dude, , like, I came here to, I came here to hoop. I don't like, I don't know what's going on, but like, I just, like, once basketball [00:08:00] practice start and they're like, basketball practice, dude, but this is the military. Like we, there's no sports period for the first three, like two and a half weeks.

Right. You gotta like make it through to get to sports, period. And I, I was in shock. I was in shock. And, uh, so that, that's definitely a thing. And do you have any, do you have any like stories or anything you remember from your plea summer that like really woke you up to the fact like, Oh no, like I'm in plea.

Like I don't get to go and experience all the cool things in the Naval Academy. Like, I'm in plebe summer now and like, I better, I better figure it out.

Grant Booker: I think for me, the first couple of weeks, the detailers were none of the, all the detailers were fresh for the first couple of weeks. So they're all yelling, they're all in our face and like yelling in my face is what I expected.

So I'm like, okay, people are yelling, whatever. I'm a tough guy. I can take this fine. Then when it really started to wear on me was you'll realize quickly is the plebes individually are the most important people during plebe summer. But it's not about you as an individual. It's about how [00:09:00] the entire plea classes being molded.

So the plebs are the priority, but as a plea, you have to understand this is a team sport. And so for me, it came, I'll never forget somebody in our company did something that was done. We all did stuff that was done, but somebody, it was just their day to do the dumb thing. And they did it and they were going to punish us.

And I was mad about it. And the detailers could tell that I was mad about it. Like they could, they could see it on my face. And I was like, why am I getting punished for this? So I remember one of the detailers said, you know what, Booker, it's fine. You don't have to do this one. Take this chair. You sit down and you watch everybody else do it.

And I was like, yeah, so that was my wake up call. Definitely came too late. This was a couple of weeks in, but that's when I really realized like, okay, plebe slumbers, no joke. They did not come to play. I need to give with the program or I'm going to get left behind. And then from there, it got a lot better.

I started out really strong the first couple of weeks, then I started to [00:10:00] taper off. And then that kind of brought me back from tape. That's the one I won't forget. I'll never forget that one.

Grant Vermeer: Oh my gosh. And that and that that's like a that's the thing. I remember that too. That was always my favorite. Like when somebody kind of has that attitude or mentality that like Oh, maybe like, I might, I may be above this at any point in time, even the slightest thing, like you said, even just given the, the sight that like, you may be frustrated or upset with someone else.

It's like, Oh no. Oh, you think you're better? Like you sit here and then you watch everyone else go, like, we're going to beat down all 30 plus kids in your company and you just get to sit there and watch it. Right. You just get to sit there and watch it. And so

Grant Booker: sitting in that chair was, I felt this big sitting in that chair.

I was like, wow, this is the most embarrassing moment I've had up to this point. So it was effective.

Grant Vermeer: It is effective. And like the funny thing, I think probably the funniest thing that you said in there is you're just like waiting for the next person to do something silly. Right. And it's not even, like, it's not even on purpose.

Like stuff, like crazy stuff just happens during plebe summer. Cause you're moving a million miles an hour. [00:11:00] There's a ton of stuff going on. Your mind's in a million places. You're tired, you're exhausted. Like stuff just happens. Right. And I remember that, like it was, it was my company, right? We had this kid, Rahul Singh, like to this day, friend of mine, I love the kid.

He, uh, he literally, like we were doing uniform races where you kind of change in, again, you're just filling up time during gray space, like finding stuff to do, and so you have to change between all your different uniforms. And, uh, one of them was to change into PT gear. And so he got in his PT gear, put on a pair of UZNAs, all that stuff.

He comes out, we're on the bulkhead. They're like, they're starting to inspect us. And he's got a pair of USNA shorts, he's got a Usna on his left thigh, and then under that is another Usna. The dude put on two pairs of Usna shorts on, cause like, again, you usually wear them underneath like your white works or whatever.

So like, not thinking, he just put on a second pair of shorts over his shorts, right? So now he's sitting there, he's got like the two Usnas on there. And it was the same thing, cause we had a kid in our company. Was like the same thing. He's like, ING, are you kidding me? Right. . I was like, what's going on? And so same thing.

They put him in the middle, they [00:12:00] put him in the chair. Think you think you're not gonna do anything crazy or gonna mess anything up, like you get sick here and watch everything happen, right? So, nah, it's just, it is funny 'cause it, it is only a matter of time until something happens like, and you're gonna, you know, that's, this is my piece is like at some point, no matter how competent you are, no matter how great you are, no matter everything.

You're going to do something. You're going to do something during plea summer. You're going to mess something up. Like that's the purpose. That's the point, right? Like you're going to get into situations to make it happen. So without a doubt. And so kind of moving through your time at the Academy, you got to experience all those great things and then kind of shifting into.

Going into your first year, getting ready for the summer, summer going into first year, you applied for a leadership position at Plebe Summer. What made you kind of want to go out for a leadership position during Plebe Summer? And with that, like, how did you kind of land that role of being the regimental commander of Plebe Summer, and what was your experience, like, once you found out, like, oh man, I'm going to be the regimental commander.

Grant Booker: So, Going into plebe summer and deciding whether or not I wanted to do it [00:13:00] when I was a plebe, I swore I'd never be a detailer because I didn't like plebe summer. I didn't want anything to do with this. When I was going through plebe summer, I swore up and down. I'd never be a detailer. I'll never do that to people, blah, blah, blah.

And you, you'll, you'll come to find that plebe summer is an experience in leadership and followership for the plebes. But it's, it's really an even better exercise in leadership and followership for the detailers. And so, I mean, we had real world problems that we were having to figure out. We have people on our staff.

Who are 19, 20, 21 years old, and we're having to make real time decisions. Like I'm looking at my counterpart, my counterpart was the OIC, as you know, OIC, a plebe summary. And I was like, sir, this is what's going on. You know, we're kind of dealing with this thing. He's like, all right, what are you going to do about it?

Yeah, sir. These were the things that I was considering doing. Um, these are the recommendations I would make to you. And he's like, don't make the recommendation to me. You do it. It's [00:14:00] your decision to make. And so that I think was really what I was hoping to get out of it. Finding out about getting that role, the way it works, at least for the reg level positions, you go up on a board, you'll get screened by, first you get screened by your company officer, battalion officer, and then they'll send you up to the board.

And so I went up to the board, I did an interview. It was, it was one of the most intimidating interviews I've done just because they had the entire conference room table. And there was one chair on my side and then the other side had the deputy commandant, all the battalion officers. Oh, I see a plebe summer, some senior NCOs, and they're all interviewing you.

And it's like, Whoa. So that was a great experience. Uh, getting, getting to talk to them, but finding out the results, they announced it at lunch. They just put it up on the TV screen, the entire slate. They said, here's your detailers. It was really cool seeing my face up there on the board and everybody in my company is congratulating me and stuff like that.

It was really [00:15:00] good, but you, you really have to bring it back in and remember, like, it's not about you at all, like as a detailer, just as much as a plea, but it's not about you as an individual, you're working with a team and you have to figure out really fast how to do that, uh, in the most effective way.

Grant Vermeer: Yeah. And so what was your vision then? Like when you, again, you find out you got the big old picture going on, like, Hey, you're going to be the regimental commander for plebe summer. First of all, which set were you, did you first or second set? And then with that, like, what was your vision? What were you hoping to get out of it personally?

But what were you hoping for? Like plebe summer and like the, what the plebes were going to get out of the summer experience.

Grant Booker: Yeah. So I was first set. Um, so we really got to come in and set the tone, which I thought was great. I really wanted the plebs to understand that, like, yes, you are learning how to follow and, you know, please, I'm just going to break you down, but also understand, like, you need to start learning how you're going to be a leader, the Academy.

Yes. It's a college. And like I [00:16:00] say, Oh, it's not college. That's really true. Like, yeah. It's a college, but there's a lot more to it. You need to be prepared to lead sailors and Marines when you graduate. So just trying to impress upon them the importance of what they're doing, um, and understanding how their actions during police summer are going to affect them later.

And then on top of that, just instilling this culture of loving the people that you're working with. Um, James Baca, he's one of my best mentors from the academy. Uh, he is the leader for officer's creation fellowship. And I talked to him a lot. Uh, he's a retired Navy captain. Pilot P three guy. Um, and he, uh, he kind of walked me through the idea of leading with love and how to do that in, in a stern way, uh, and in a way that's gonna develop, uh, you know, the people that you're leading.

So that, that was the other thing I really wanted was for on the detailer side, all of the detailers to really understand what it meant to love the plebes that they were gonna be working with. Uh, and [00:17:00] to want the best for them, you know, sacrificing anything for them. Uh, pour into them as much as possible.

So that was really my vision. Um, plebe summer is a machine. Uh, it's kind of going to work. It's going to work the way it's going to work. Um, but you can add in, uh, you know, the extra things like that. And that's really where I wanted to try to have a value add there. Sure.

Grant Vermeer: No, a hundred percent. I think, I think that piece is really interesting because, because like you mentioned, there are a lot of people who always talk about like, Hey, first set meant to break them down.

Second set to build them back up. And like, well, those things are true. Kind of like you're saying all of it is, is the same way. Like when we, cause I was second set, right? So I have kind of the opposite factor. I came in three and a half weeks into it and I had to take them to the start of the academic year.

Right. And it's like, yeah, we're building, we're building them back up, but like. That's not just like being nice to them, you know what I mean? To build them back up, like you guys, I joke, like that first set, like you have to break habits. You have to, you have to break habits of, of high [00:18:00] school kids. And start to build the foundation Of someone who's kind of ready to join up into the brigade as as quite literally like a member of the military Right, and so I think that piece is really interesting and the best way To form habits is just to do the same stuff and build that consistency, right?

So like second set I just want to give a full fair warning to all our lovely parents and uh, You know potential appointees out there second set's not easy, dude I mean it it may feel a little bit easier because you're used to it A little bit. Right. But, uh, you know, it's that process. Like you're saying, it's a machine and it's been built to do that way.

And it's, it's meant to break habits and then build new ones. Right. And so, um, I think I always thought that piece was, was really interesting. And, and I love what you were talking about there is like, if you can genuinely love the people in your platoon, your company, your squad, whatever the case is, And like truly invest in trying to teach them and develop their leadership from [00:19:00] that early point.

Again, the machine's going to work, the process is going to happen, but you can make those small little impacts that like people will remember, please will remember, like their impacts that certain individuals made in my experience that I remember to this day. Right. And so that's kind of the, um, the big thing there.

So I love, I love that, uh, um, that piece you had with it. And so, you know, having seen it from the first set in your opinion, and then the second set for my opinion, but seeing sleep somewhere from a high level. What did you see plebes struggle with the most? Like what were you, what things did you see that like plebes kind of could either get themselves into trouble or had a hard time with?

And then on the flip side, what could they do in a positive way to kind of separate themselves in a really positive way?

Grant Booker: Uh, so, One thing that you'll see in Pleave Summer, um, whenever you get there, a place you don't want to find yourself is Reg Tables. You don't want to be the kid that gets sent to Reg [00:20:00] Tables.

It's not a good time. It's embarrassing. It looks bad on you. Your detailers, like it's a last resort for them. They don't want to send you to Reg Tables, but they'll do it. So Reg Tables is basically like where They've tried to get you in line with what they want, and it's just not working. So they send you to sit at a meal with the reg commander XO.

And it's, it's just, it's not a good time. It's not where you want to be. And so consistently what we saw with the ones who were getting sent to red tables, was that. Was it was just, it wasn't ever performance is never performance. It's always mentality is always attitude. And so if you don't want to buy into the program, okay, you know, you're only hurting yourself really.

And the people you're going to lead in the future. You know, it's, it's no skin off their back really to send you to rest tables. It's, it's no skin off our back when you're at rest tables for us to, to, you know, to [00:21:00] kind of blast you a little bit, but you know, that's really where people when they really struggled, it wasn't because of performance, they'll get you to where you need to be performance wise, whether it's physical, academic is repoints is a thing once is a real thing.

Um, you know, you'll get caught up on that type of stuff, but the main thing that'll hold people back is their own mentality. Yeah. One thing that I tried to bring in, and this was kind of controversial when I did it, but positive reg tables, if there was a plea that was doing something that was really, really good, consistently, then we would want to have positive reg tables for them too.

And so whenever we would see. Detailers send their plebes up for that. It was always the ones that were taking time not only to work on themselves, but to work on others. So to take their positive mentality and pass it on to the other plebes in their company. Um,

Grant Vermeer: I can remember one that's, that's

Grant Booker: big,

Grant Vermeer: that's big time.

Remember? Do [00:22:00] remember one I'm, I'm gonna have you talk, talk about that, because that was actually something I tried to incorporate too, was a little bit of that, that positive red table and positive reinforcement. So gimme, gimme that example that you're talking about.

Grant Booker: Yeah. So I'll never forget Mr. McShane.

He, uh, we went up on his on their deck one day, uh, to just kind of watch what they were doing. And this kid was smiling. And I remember there was another time I saw him. We were outside and in uniform. This was at PT in the morning at Pep. You're not supposed to have your chain hang outside of, if you're wearing a neck, it's not supposed to be outside your PT gear.

So we had gotten down and we were doing mountain climbers and I was standing up on the podium because I was one of Major Antonelli's like demonstrators for the day and we were doing mountain climbers. So I'm, I'm leaned over and then I stand back up in my chains hanging out. And I didn't see this. It's not like I did it on purpose, but I looked down and I see Mr.

McShane, he goes, and I was like, Oh, thank you. Appreciate it. So, [00:23:00] and then I hear from his detailers that he's just consistently, you know, stepping up, being a leader, being positive with, with his classmates. So. Just being bold, being brave, you know, being somebody that wants to help others without really thinking about yourself.

That's what really is going to get you through plebe summer. Those are the ones who excel in plebe summer. And when you excel in plebe summer, you start, you, you give yourself a good reputation going into the year. And then it just, it's snowballs forward. So you really do start to make a name for yourself, uh, during plebe summer.

So Mr. McShane, he, he was always great. Um, I'll never forget him, uh, as a, as a detailer. Yeah.

Grant Vermeer: Also side note, side note on that one, being on the pet platform with major and Sally. That's the hardest thing I've ever done. Because you know

Grant Booker: there are a thousand people watching you, dude. There are a

Grant Vermeer: thousand

Grant Booker: people.

Like, you

Grant Vermeer: can't miss a single

Grant Booker: thing.

Grant Vermeer: Oh, my gosh. You have to do everything like 100 percent perfect. I remember doing that. Everyone has to be [00:24:00] perfect. I was, I was tired. I talked to my ex after that. I was like, I was like, you gotta, you gotta do more information today. I'm, I'm gassed, dude. I'm gassed. Oh, man.

That's crazy. And, uh, yeah, so just, I want to tell a funny, like, Reg story. Uh, Reg Table story, too, because I'm glad you had those positive experiences. I was a very, I yelled probably about three times over plebe summer. Like I was not a big, my, my XO to this day, love that dude. He was like, he was like locked on.

He was super like strict with regs kind of guy. Like, that's just not my personality. You know what I mean? So like when I yelled, it was crazy. And like, one of the only times I yelled was during reg tables. And, uh, there was a girl who had written some profanity about, uh, one of her detailers on a, uh, On her calendar that was like left out on her desk, right?

Like wrote some profanity. And so they're like, yo grant You got to see this and it's like send her to reg tables, dude Send her to reg tables and so they do and I remember having like a pre [00:25:00] brief with my team I was like, all right guys, this is how it's gonna go down You know i'm gonna ask some questions when I ask her what she wants the service left no matter what she answers Like we're going, we're going in, right?

Like we're going in. Right. And so everyone was like, all right, we're on board. And so same thing like happened. She always like, you know, ask some questions. Oh, where are you from? All this stuff, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, Oh, you have any idea what you want on the service? Like, she's like, Oh, I want to go Marine Corps.

And so I was like, once you said that, everyone was like, we like slammed our fans, you want to go Marine Corps. Are you kidding me? You think you've been hate, like you can behave this way and go in the Marine Corps, like blah, blah, blah. And like. It went in and it was so funny. Cause at the time gunnery sergeant habit, who was, uh, you know, she was an SEL, but also in charge of drill.

She like came over to the table. She was like, what's going on? Are you okay? Because nobody was used to seeing me Ellen. Right. And so like I showed, I showed her like the picture of like what that girl had written, she was like, Yup. Kill. Get her. And I was like, let's go. You know, we, uh, it was just like, it was just so wild.

But just to echo the sentiment, try not to [00:26:00] get to Reg Tables. Whatever you do, don't go to Reg Tables, because it's probably not going to be a fun time. It's not hard to stay away

Grant Booker: from Reg Tables. If you have a good mentality, you won't go to Reg Tables. You may be during my set. I think we saw six negative and two positive.

Restables are not a common occurrence. Just do the right thing. Do the right thing and you'll be okay. It's not hard not to go, but if you find yourself there, stand by. Stand by.

Grant Vermeer: Uh, alright, yeah, so just to shift a little bit now and really tailor this conversation to, um, you know, the appointees who are coming out to Annapolis for I Day.

When you look back on your experience, probably didn't have the right mindset or mentality coming into plebe summer, just trying to see if you wish you would have done anything a little bit differently in preparing for plebe summer

Grant Booker: and getting ready for plebe summer. I think physically I did everything I needed to do.

Uh, I was, I was in decent [00:27:00] shape going into plebe summer, so I didn't have any issues there. When you get ready to go to plebe summer, they're going to give you a packet of things you need to memorize. Um, mission and naval academy is one of them. I think I had to know a major chain of command up to like the sec nav or sec def, um, memorize those things, learn those things.

Um, I, I did all that stuff. I think that one thing I could have done. One thing I would definitely do now is learn more about the state of the world, uh, geopolitically. There's a lot going on right now that was not going on when I was getting ready for Plebe Summer. Um, you know, right now what we're really seeing, more so even now than when I was, when I was about to be incoming, we're seeing now.

Peer adversaries, not near peer adversaries. You will hear this term near peer adversaries. We're starting to see peer [00:28:00] adversaries, um, and just learning what the threats to the country are now. Yes. We're a peacetime military, but. Understand what you're signing up for, understand what the nation's interests are, uh, you know, abroad.

Try to frame what you're doing, uh, with that. It's a lot bigger than induction day, plebe summer, plebe year. Two for seven, all these things you're talking about the Academy, this is, this is a real deal. Um, you're going to swear an oath and that means something. So just get really, really serious about that.

It's, it's not a, it's not a, you know, I don't mean to throw like rain on the parade or anything. It's just something to consider as you get ready to go. I think that also helps, um, as you're getting ready to make this commitment, being committed just means doing what you said you were going to do. When the mood that you set it in has [00:29:00] passed.

And so understand what it is that you're committing to, uh, so that you can, you can properly do that. Count the cost before you, before you go.

Grant Vermeer: I love it. It's, it's, it's great advice. Um, and kind of just, just with that. And, you know, I think that's, that's really interesting. And I think kind of in a niche, funny way that may actually help you like, In the midst of plebe summer as well because exactly, you know I don't know how your experience was But I mean even from like the funniness of just like being at meals and meal tables, right?

Like a lot of conversation and a lot of questions about hey What articles did you read in the paper today? Because again, you don't have your phones during plebe summer Nothing like what you get is a newspaper, right? And they'll ask you like, Hey, what articles did you memorize? What are, or not memorized, but what articles did you read all this stuff?

And so if you come in well read and you come in understanding kind of like the state of the world, being able to read some of those things and just little snippets and be able to have good conversation, Will be really helpful right like that's that's [00:30:00] like a an impressive important thing to do too. Um, and so, uh, no very very interesting insight and then Um, you know kind of away from your experience and just kind of talking again directly to some of the appointees now How can they best prepare themselves from, you know, we kind of talked a little bit here about overarching mindset advice.

We talked a little bit about being, uh, under like, read up on the current state of the world. But what would you talk to people about in terms of fitness, academic study and read points or not? Um, and anything else you kind of see fit, like what would you, uh, give as advice for best preparation kind of coming into plebe summer?

Grant Booker: So in order to get ready for plebe summer, you definitely are going to want to be in good shape. You're going to want to be in good running shape. Um, you're going to run a lot at pep and they're going to break you out into running groups. Uh, you can always move up a running group once plebe summer started, but coming in with a really good baseline is going to help you stand out.

Um, so, you know, if you're [00:31:00] really into lifting, cause like that was, that was always my thing in high school lifting. I loved, I didn't do a lot of running, at least not long distance running. I was a sprinter on the track team. Um, run, get your cardio up. If you're not a good swimmer, start swimming. Swimming is something that is not necessarily tied to how fit you are.

It's a technique thing. So if you're not a super strong swimmer, start swimming because there's going to be swim that you have to do during plebe summer. Uh, and that's, that's really going to help you, um, for the PRT just understanding, uh, what the PRT is. Cause that's going to be another metric that they use.

It's really the main metric. So it's going to be cadence push ups. That was a new thing during my plebs summer was the cadence push ups familiarize yourself with cadence push ups. Uh, and then make sure you can, you can do the plank, um, maxing the plank is it can be kind of gimme points if you can, if you can max the plank.

So, um, work on that. And then the last part of it, just that mile and a half run running is really the main thing. [00:32:00] Get good running shoes. Get good running shoes before you go.

Grant Vermeer: Yes, right. He's the main thing that I, and I think that's huge. Right. And especially I'm talking to all my varsity athletes out here that are, like, you know, think they're in great shape.

Right. Cause that was me. I was 17. I was like, dog, I'm about to go play division one basketball. You run a lot. Right. And it's, and it's, you know, what's really interesting is it's not even necessarily about being the fastest. It's about your health. Right. Cause if you go from not doing any long distance running to running five times a week.

Like you're gonna, you're gonna hurt, right? And I'm not saying you're going to get injured, but you're going to hurt. Right. And if you get to a point where you're starting to get shin splints or your knees are starting to bother you, right. It puts yourself in a really bad spot from a, from a lot of different aspects.

Like you don't want to be hurt, but then you're also in a point where like, if you can't run, then you're one of the people that just left out on the field while everyone else is running and that's not a great look, you know what I mean? And so. That's, that's always my biggest advice. Like you're saying, get good running shoes and run, run before you get [00:33:00] here just to keep yourself healthy, right?

Like this biggest thing is you need to train your legs. You need to put miles on your legs and you need to get used to it before you get here so that way you stay healthy. And that goes to all my varsity athletes too. I know you think you're in great shape, but the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself before going into the school year.

Cause you didn't properly prepare for the reality of the Naval Academy experience was that you have to go through summer before you make it into the academic year. Right. And you go on and play your sport or whatever the case is. So, um, You know, I think, I think that piece is really big and I'm glad you touched on that.

Uh, and that's, that's the one thing I wish I would have told myself, you know, before I showed up was just run, right? Just run more, just run more. Um, stress

Grant Booker: fractures. We saw a lot of shin splits and stress, just going back up to the reg commander view, we would see when people would be injured. We saw a lot of shin splints and stress fractures.

And that just comes from either not running properly, uh, not being in great running shape. You know, doing way more miles than you're used to. [00:34:00] Don't let the first time that you run five miles would be at the Naval Academy during plebe summer. You're already wrong. Uh, if you're, if you're in that position, you're already wrong already,

Grant Vermeer: already.

And so, uh, you know, I think the Naval Academy usually sends out like a, almost like a running plan before showing up. Yeah, they do.

Grant Booker: They do.

Grant Vermeer: Right. Like, so I'm about to, I'm about to give the most radical advice of all time of like all this Academy insider stuff and giving advice for plebe summer. Follow what they send you, dude.

Right, like, this is the crazy thing, is that you don't need any, like, inside secrets, you know, anything. Like, if you prepare for the running and take care of your health, and then you show up, like, again, I've heard people be like, Oh, just, you know, buy a copy of Reef Points, study all this stuff. If you want to do that for your own entertainment, sure.

Right. But like, just, just memorize what they tell you to memorize for IDA, right? Like if you show up and you're prepared for IDA, it sets you up for success, like throughout the time going through it. Right. And so, um, there are all these different things, but you know, the crazy advice and the recommendation is just like actually do what the Naval Academy tells you to do to prepare to [00:35:00] show up.

And I think like you actually put yourself in a really good spot. You actually put yourself in a really good spot. Um, So, all right, uh, with that is, oh yeah, please, please give me something.

Grant Booker: Um, this just kind of goes back to your question about, you know, what can I do going into pre summer? Uh, not necessarily physically.

If you're going to do extra, do what they tell you to do because the programs they come up with are good. But if you're going to do extra, when I was at the basic school, uh, Colonel McClam, he was the commanding officer of the basic school. One thing he told us was think about what you think about leadership.

If you're going to do extra, seek out books on leadership, um, so that you can prepare your mind that way. That's just one little thing that I, that I would add in there, uh, just talking about the program that the Naval Academy is going to put you on to get you ready. If you're going to do anything extra, I would suggest make it about leadership, uh, cause that's, that's going to serve you well as you're trying to get through those hard times.

Grant Vermeer: No, I love it. I appreciate it. And as we get ready to kind of wind this [00:36:00] down and wrap up, um, do you have any other, again, parting words of wisdom, parting advice, things that you would like to take this opportunity, kind of related to anything you want, again, addressing parents, addressing future appointees, Like, what would you tell them?

What's your overarching advice and just anything that you want to relay to them?

Grant Booker: Um, I guess just a few things. Plebe Summer is challenging. Uh, it's meant to be challenging. Don't underestimate the challenges of Plebe Summer and don't underestimate yourself. If you underestimate the challenges of Plebe Summer and you think it's going to be a cakewalk, uh, then when it gets hard, you're going to be in for a really rude awakening.

And kind of on the flip side of that, if you underestimate yourself and your abilities, then the first time you fail at something, because you will fail at something during Plebe Summer, it's designed so that you fail at at least a few things. The first time that you fail at something, you're going to get really discouraged.

You're going to feel like you slipped through the cracks and you're going to get imposter syndrome. So just don't [00:37:00] underestimate the program and don't underestimate yourself, uh, and learn how you define success, success during plebe summer and success at the Naval Academy is not going to look like what it looked like in high school.

A lot of people come to the Academy. They were top performers in their classes, top 5%, top 1 percent in their class. 99th percentile in the SAT, ACT, varsity team captains, like everybody's got those stats. When everybody's got those stats, you have to define success differently because you might not be top of your class anymore because everybody else was top of their class.

Learn what success means to you. Is it being the fastest one on the run or is it being the one that finishes the run and then goes back to encourage somebody else who's struggling on the run? Maybe that's what success looks like for you is still having some energy in the tank for that, you know? So just define success, define it every day.

Uh, and then the last thing I'll say, find something that [00:38:00] you can hold on to during police summer to keep you grounded. My thing was always my faith. Um, everybody's got something, but find something that can keep you grounded because it can be easy to forget why you're doing what you're doing when it gets hard, uh, find, find whatever that thing is for you.

But. It's going to be okay. If you are at least a, if you're capable enough to get into the Naval Academy, then you're capable enough to make it through plebe summer. So everything is going to be fine. Once you get to plebe summer and get through induction day.

Grant Vermeer: No, 100%. And, and thank you so much for, for all that.

I couldn't agree more, uh, in the echo of that sentiment. Um, and I'm just going to add just a little bit on about my own, you know, personal parting, uh, advice and thoughts on all this. And this comes from the perspective of a dude who quite literally almost left during police summer, right? Like again, if you're not familiar with my story, I highly encourage you to go back and look at all the resources that I have at Academy Insider where I kind of tell my story, but like, I was ready to go.

Like, I was ready [00:39:00] to go. I didn't, I wanted nothing to do with it. About, about like two and a half weeks in, Fourth of July night, when those fireworks were popping off and people were saying, Ooh, ah, I was like, Doc, I'm done. I was like, I just want to go home. I just want to go

Grant Booker: home.

Grant Vermeer: And so, um, you know, I sit here and I tell this story and it's, and it's really funny and I'm, I'm at this point where, Again, I separated from the Navy a year ago.

I graduated from the Naval Academy in 2017. I did my five years. I did multiple submarine deployments. I did my, I served my country and I'm really proud of everything that I've done. I can sit here as a 28 year old in a civilian world, like doing my own thing, building my business now, just enjoying life that the Naval Academy.

Is a generationally changing opportunity. This university and this institution is incredible because of the people that you're going to meet because of the experiences you're going to go through because of the network, you're going to become a part of like all this stuff is incredible. Going to the Naval Academy was the best decision I ever made in my life.

And when you, if you asked me that while I was a plebe, I would have been [00:40:00] like this, you're crazy. Like this is, you're crazy. Right. And so, um, I just want to reiterate how special this place is. And I encourage you to not make a permanent decision. Based off temporary emotion, right? And like, had I made the decision to leave the academy, my life would not be the same.

Right. And so, um, that's my big, my big thing here. Don't, don't make a permanent decision off a temporary emotion. Find that thing that grounds you, right? Like Grant's talking about, find that thing that grounds you and just, and just keep going through because being a graduate from the United States Naval Academy is a life changing opportunity.

It's a community changing opportunity. It's a generational changing opportunity for a thing. Right. And so fight through it. The second thing kind of like, again, just kind of talking about my experience is that whatever your reason for going to the academy is, is the right reason and never doubt that, right?

And so, you know, I had a lot of people during my bleep summer telling me, Oh, you came here to play basketball. You didn't come here for the right reason. You need to leave. The mission [00:41:00] of the Naval Academy is to develop midshipmen morally, mentally, physically in order to kind of pursue that career of naval service and being a part of it.

This isn't OCS. You're not here being screened. They have taken highly competent, highly amazing, high leadership individuals to bring to the Academy to develop them into people who are ready to go and serve in the Navy and Marine Corps, right? And so, you know, I had self doubt as a part of that and part of wanting to leave.

I was like, I don't even like, I don't belong here, right? I don't, I'm not like everyone else. I don't belong here. And I think that's the biggest thing is just understanding like, own your experience, realize that your reason for coming is the right experience, and like, by being at the Academy and buying into it and investing in it and being a part of the experience, it will develop you into the point where you're ready to go out and lead Sailors and Marines.

Just point blank, period. Right. And so, um, you know, that's my parting advice, everything that Grant said, everything that I said, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me here at Academy Insider, I can put you in touch with Grant. He's a busy man. I mean, it's actually in the [00:42:00] Marine Corps. I got a lot more time to talk now, but, uh, you know, again, anything we can do for any parents out there, grandparents out there, aunts, uncles, appointees getting ready to come.

If you have any questions, if you just want to talk, you want to get ready Again, talk, feel free to shoot me a message here. I would, I would love to, I'd love to do it. I'd love to do it. I'd love to help. Um, I want to end this episode by just reiterating one more time about how special of a place the United States Naval Academy is.

You should feel blessed. To have this opportunity to come here for all the parents out there, family members, you should be so proud. Like this is really cool. And I hope, you know, you're joining the community of people who are, who are ready to go and like change the world and make a really positive impact on it.

Right. And so, um, so yeah, Grant, anything else, anything you want to end the episode with?

Grant Booker: No, I could not agree more with everything you said. Thanks for the opportunity. Um, like you said, if you want to, uh, throw my email in there for, for people to reach out, I'll check in [00:43:00] as much as I can. Um, and I, I love to talk to anybody who's, who's coming in.

Uh, the Academy is a special place. I was in a similar place where I wanted to leave, not during plebe summer, but after plebe year, I was, I was working on an application to another school. And I'm so glad I stayed. I've had a lot of great opportunities, so thanks for having me. Thanks for letting me share my experiences.

I watched Academy Insider videos when I was getting ready to go to Plebe Summer, and so it's just so funny now that I get to be a part of one of these. So, you know, I hope it helps at least one or two people. Uh, yeah, absolutely. So, absolutely.

Grant Vermeer: All right. Absolutely. Grant, thank you so much, man, to everyone listening.

I hope you have a really amazing day. Thanks. Man, what an incredible episode. This was so fun for me. I actually reached out to Grant a little bit ago and, uh, you know, he let me know that he had watched Academy Insider Stuff before he showed up to Believe Summer, which one, just made me feel really old, but two, it's just like, it's incredible that we're able to bring this platform back and hopefully help the next wave of midshipmen, [00:44:00] future midshipmen and their families kind of really get the most out of the Naval Academy experience.

So if you have any questions at all, you just want to reach out, touch base. If there's anything I can do for you, please feel free to shoot me a message to Grant. at academy can reach out to me any kind of way, and I would love to be a help. So make sure to reach out. I hope you enjoyed the episode.

Thank you so much. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Academy Insider Podcast. I really hope you liked it, enjoyed it, and learned something during this time. If you did, please feel free to like and subscribe or leave a comment about the episode. We really appreciate to hear your feedback about everything and continue to make Academy Insider an amazing service. that guides, serves, and supports midshipmen, future midshipmen, and their families. Thank you.