News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 3, 2017
Students balance fun, training aboard summer cruise

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Parents, friends and family welcome home their students with signs and cheers.

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by Monique Labbe

After 90 days at sea, the students and crew aboard the T/S State of Maine summer cruise returned to Castine Harbor on July 31. The students brought back with them knowledge and experience gleaned from hours of rigorous training and long days turned into nights of watch and navigation.

They also brought corn hole, cribbage and poker skills back with them as well, and the Bravo company brought home the title of “best wing eaters.”

Along with the hours of regimental life aboard the training cruise, the students were able to exist as “civilians” through activities such as cribbage tournaments, casino nights and even wing eating competitions. And lots of corn hole.

“Corn hole became a huge thing [on the cruise],” said Austin Gamache, a junior on this year’s cruise. “Each company had its own board painted, we played a lot of it.”

The activities, according to junior Julia Dillon, allowed the students to “be students,” and take a break from the regimental part of the cruise.

“During casino nights we were able to dress in civilian clothes, it just boosted the morale and took some of the regimental life out of it,” she said.

Dillon added that the down time was an important part of the cruise because it was a good way to relax and debrief from the formalities of the regiment.

“For a lot of the people on board it’s their first time really away from home, so it was just a good way to remind ourselves that we’re still human,” she said.

Gamache echoed Dillon’s sentiments of boosted morale, adding that it also allowed the students to form a camaraderie during the fun times for when their tasks were less than ideal.

“We took out the trash at like, 10 p.m. one night, and somehow we made it fun,” he said. “That down time on the ship, and the down time that we had in ports, really helped us form strong relationships with our companies.”

After saying hello to their families and friends once back in Castine, the students returned to the ship, where their training continued until August 2. They will have a short break before classes resume for the start of the first semester mid August.