All midshipmen begin the four-year program with Plebe Summer, a period designed to turn civilians into midshipmen. Plebe Summer is no gentle easing into the military routine. Soon after entering the gate on Induction Day, you are put into uniform and taught how to salute by the first class midshipmen who lead the plebe indoctrination program. For the next seven weeks, you start your days at dawn with an hour of rigorous exercise and end them long after sunset, wondering how you will make it through the next day. Forget television, leisure time or movies. You will have barely enough hours in the day to finish your assigned plebe tasks!
The frantic, exhausting pace of Plebe Summer leads you somewhere. It gets you ready for your responsibilities when the brigade returns from summer training and the academic year begins. The summer also builds the foundation for the tangible and intangible qualities that make an outstanding naval officer. You learn self-discipline. You learn to organize your time and decide which things are most important. You reach top physical condition. You develop your ability to think clearly under stress and to react quickly when the unexpected comes your way. Any officer who has stood the watch on the bridge of a ship in a storm or landed a jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier at night can tell you the importance of these qualities.
Plebe Summer introduces you to the basic how-tos of the Navy as well. Aboard Naval Academy sailboats, you learn to respect the power of wind and current. You learn the basics of seamanship, navigation and boat handling. On the weapons range, you learn how to fire small arms safely and accurately. You also learn why we have high standards of honor, character and conduct. And, you begin to develop your own ideas about leadership and the techniques that will make you an effective leader.