St. Joe steps up to help host mock Navy SEAL training for youths

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A 500 yard swim, 50 push-ups, 50 curl ups, 10 pull-ups and a 1.5 mile run – all with a heat index well over 100 degrees.

The cadets completed their physical entrance exams at the St. Joseph Bay Country Club on the second hottest day of the year so far, which was especially challenging for those who had flown down from the cooler climates of Ohio, New Jersey and Washington State the day before.

The test was the last requirement for the high schoolers, ages 15 through 18, to make it into the Navy Sea Cadet Corps’ summer Navy SEALs training course, a rigorous program for youth designed to mimic the actual Navy Seals training program.

“It’s the same test that active duty Navy SEALs have to pass, so it’s pretty strenuous,” said the program’s director, Tony Almon.

The camp is based in Perry, about an hour and a half from Gulf County, but when they could not find a pool that would allow them to complete their testing nearby Almon, who used to teach at Port St. Joe High School, said he knew where to call.

“They have to pass a physical screening test to even enter the training,” Almon said. “And because of availability or whatever’s the case, we couldn’t find anywhere that had a pool… but the folks there in Port St. Joe were kind enough to accommodate us.”

It’s a two week training, in which the cadets learn about not only the strength required to become a Navy SEAL, but about leadership and hard work.

Cadets Wilson, Poirier, Dobrosky, Bedient, Hiseta and Smith, who had just completed the swimming portion of the test, said they had prepared for months to be eligible for the camp, which has a rigorous application process.

“It was definitely the most extensive application I’ve ever had,” said Cadet Smith. “There was an essay we had to write. We had to do two PSTs, two physical screening tests. We had to provide a ton of medical documents – like an EKG, get blood drawn, immunization records, physicals – and then we had to go through a selection board and get a commanding officer’s letter of recommendation. And then we have to take this test twice, once at home and once today.”

The cadets expressed various reasons for wanting to complete the summer course, from wanting to join the actual Navy SEALs one day, to trying to figure out where in the military they wanted to end up, to wanting to test their physical and mental limits.

In their two weeks at the camp, those of the 34 or so cadets who pass the physical screening test will be completing trainings similar to those experienced by the actual Navy SEALs, but on a smaller scale. 

At the end, those who graduate the program will receive a NSWOC breast insignia signifying their accomplishment. A large proportion of the cadets who make it through the program end up at one of the UNited States Military Academies after graduating from High School.

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