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Fireside Chats During Plebe Summer at the United States Naval Academy

plebe summer Aug 06, 2019

My favorite part of being the Regimental Commander during the Class of 2020’s Plebe Summer was being given the opportunity to sit down and individually talk to each Plebe Company.  Named after FDR’s fireside chats, Plebe Summer fireside chats are a designated 45 minute time period in which the Regimental Commander addresses each company.

There is no script and there is no influence on what is to be said during this time, but rather it is an unfiltered discussion between the Regimental Commander and the plebes.  Both the 1st set and 2nd set Regimental Commanders will give fireside chats, so the plebes will have two in total over the summer.


The Fireside Chats are meant to be positive, educational, motivational, and inspirational.  Therefore, they are held outside of Bancroft Hall and away from the company detailers. There is no set location for the fireside chats, but rather it is at the discretion of the Regimental Commander.  I initially chose to have the plebes come to Dahlgren Hall because… well, it was honestly just pretty cool.


But eventually I shifted to an academic building lecture hall because there were chairs for the plebes to sit in, there was better air conditioning, and it was much easier for them to hear in a closed environment.  

However, I also quickly learned that the phrase “stinky plebes” is not a joke but is actually an accurate description of their odor. When you put close to 80 plebes in a closed classroom, their stench is overpowering.

What Do You Even Talk to the Plebes About for 45 Minutes?

The fireside chats gave me an opportunity to share my journey, my story, and my experiences at the Naval Academy with every single member of the Class of 2020 with the hope that it would help even just one person. 

I shared my reason for coming to the Naval Academy, my failures and hardships at the Academy, the reasons I signed my 2 for 7 and stayed at the Naval Academy, and the overall life lessons I have learned and applied to my daily routine.  

I shared with them that the reason I came to the Naval Academy was to play basketball.  I shared with them my hatred for plebe summer (I know, it’s ironic), and I brought that infamous note that seems to always make its way back into the discussion.  

Yep, that one again.

I told them a story from my plebe year Naval History class that almost, and probably should have, landed me on Restriction (don’t worry, I will tell the entire story in a separate post). 

I told them multiple stories about one of my friends/teammates/and mentors named Kevin Alter, and each shared a common theme: LEADERSHIP MATTERS. Never underestimate the impact you can make on someone’s life with simple actions.  

But most importantly, I had the opportunity to look each plebe in the eyes and tell them to be proud of their reason for being at the Academy, to have a relentless work ethic and bring an enthusiasm to life, to be the peer pressure, and to turn their ‘shoulds’ into ‘musts’ because their journeys and experiences at the Academy are just beginning.

It is reassuring to express to the plebes that even the highest-ranking midshipman over Plebe Summer experienced the same thoughts and the same feelings and that perfection is not what we are looking for, but rather constant growth and improvement.  

I was so grateful to have this opportunity because it allowed me to reach out and help every single plebe who was having the same doubts and fears that I was having during my Plebe Summer.

The thought that I could potentially help even just one person decide to stick it out or reassure them that everything was going to be worth it made my job so special. 

I am the luckiest person in the world to have had that opportunity.