There were no paparazzi, limos or flashing cameras for this premiere event at Training Center Cape May, N.J. In fact, instead of flashy outfits, recruits wore the standard issue operational dress uniform and working the red carpet meant marching smartly into the training center’s Ida Lewis Auditorium.
Despite the lack of fan fare, the recruits were attending a significant event for the Coast Guard – the premiere of the Coast Guard’s Top 10 Videos of 2013 and to cast the first votes of the Coast Guard 2013 Video of the Year Contest. The Top 10 Videos of 2013 highlight some of the service’s most compelling cases and training from 2013, and the Video of the Year Contest pits the Top 10 against one another as fans of the Coast Guard vote for their favorites on Facebook and YouTube.
For the first time in the contest’s history, the arduous basic training program at Training Center Cape May was featured as one of the Coast Guard’s Top 10 Videos. The video entitled “It’s not JUST 8 weeks” was originally developed by the staff at the training center to encourage applicants prepare for the rigors of boot camp.
“It’s one thing to see what you’ll face on YouTube or Facebook before you ship, but it’s surreal to see it while you’re here living it,” said Seaman Recruit Lionel De Jesus from Savannah, Ga., who will be stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter in Corona Del Mar, Calif . “They aren’t lying when they say this is ‘not just eight weeks.’ I know I and a lot of my shipmates under estimated how hard and stressful boot camp actually is.”
Most importantly, the premiere gave the recruits an opportunity to see some of the missions they’ll be conducting when they graduate from Training Center Cape May. The majority of Coast Guardsmen who leave here will be conducting frontline Coast Guard missions within a few days of graduation.
“We appreciate having an opportunity to show our service’s newest members some of the missions they’ll be doing just a few days after graduation,” said Capt. Todd Prestidge, the commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “We will be asking them to do dangerous work, and they will be given great responsibility when they leave here. This helps them realize how important their training is to their success and safety as a Coast Guardsmen.”
Facebook and YouTube are distant memories for the recruits at Cape May, so they cast their votes by placing a ticket in Coast Guard covers (aka hats), which were placed in front of logos for each of the units featured in the videos. The Coast Guard cover carries a specific meaning here because recruits must earn the right and privilege to wear the cover or Emblem through sweat, trial and sacrifice.
“We don’t get a whole lot choices while were here so it was really hard to vote for our favorite,” said Seaman Recruit Christina Shipp from San Antonio, Texas, who will be stationed at Coast Guard Station New Orleans. “All the videos were really good, so it made it even harder to pick a favorite.”
The recruits have a good track record at picking the Video of the Year and have picked two of the top three Videos for the past two years. This year the recruits voted “1,700 Miles in 3 Minutes” for third place. “Surf Training at Cape D” was the recruits’ second place choice. The winner was “It’s not JUST 8 weeks” by a landslide, and the staff here didn’t even persuade the voting at all.
“Most Coast Guard operations and missions aren’t caught on camera,” said Prestidge. “Much of our work occurs in the black of night during the most brutal weather conditions or thousands of miles away from U.S. shores in some of the most dangerous places on earth. This gives the people we serve, and our newest members, an opportunity to see what Coast Guardsmen do every day.”