Busy summer? You don't know the half of it!

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- As a young college student, I viewed my summers as nothing more than a great excuse to immerse myself in the most irresponsible behavior I could possibly imagine.

My friends and I concocted grand schemes to travel to unbelievable vacation spots and party until the roof caved in, but our schedule and finances painted a very different reality - so we typically did nothing more than make our way to the local club. Still, those club nights rarely proved exciting because so many students from my town had left for the summer.

When I consider how Academy cadets spend their summer, and think about the activities they're immersed in, I realize how miniscule my summertime achievements actually were.
While many college students across the nation are now relaxing and taking a break from even thinking about homework, scores of cadets are taking part in a variety of Cadet Summer programs.

A cadet's summer is broken up into three periods of about three weeks each; depending on their class year, each cadet is required to take part in at least two summer sessions.
Currently, cadets are participating in rigorous Combat Survival Training, learning leadership cadre roles for the upcoming Basic Cadet Training and actively involved in Operations Air Force, visiting active duty Air Force bases to learn how Airmen support the Air Force mission. These are but a few of the programs cadets take part in during their summer, but they all play a large role in preparing these future officers to become officers and leaders of character.

Among many other things, I never would have entertained the possibility of traveling to another country to learn about industry or immerse myself in another language or culture, or attending Global Engagement, a 10-day course introducing freshmen cadets to the Expeditionary Air Force.

I never would have thought of taking part in the summer Airmanship programs here like soaring and jump training, or learning about unmanned aerial systems, or taking an air and cyber space course.

While my silly and spoiled summer plans were to party in Myrtle Beach, S.C., our cadets travel to exotic locales such as Spain, China, India, Guam, Chile, and other countries to learn organizational diversity, a foreign language, or immerse themselves in cultural studies.

As I continue to discover all cadets do here day-in-and day-out, I realize something quite impressive: compared to my college experience, the years cadets spend here at the Academy must be some of the most adventurous times a young person could possibly ever have.

I don't know about you, but I look forward to hearing how cadets have spent their summer.