Each year a new class of cadets starts a new at The Citadel. They come in, many of them being self-reliant, and many already understand the importance of community. Still, the process of the Knob year for the cadets is to integrate them into the corps of cadets.
“Do you think the Clemson students are going through this today?” I overheard some people as they watched the incoming freshman [knobs] moving into their dorms and getting oriented by the upperclassmen officers of the Cadre.
My wife, Dorie Griggs, has been writing a blog for Citadel parents since our son was a student. He graduated in 2011. We decided to drive down to Charleston, SC, and help some of the parents as they dropped off their sons and daughters.
Each year parents of older cadets help the new parents and incoming knobs move into their rooms. This is the paying it forward they feel compelled to do after their move-in experience the first year at The Citadel.
The Citadel Family Association helps identify all these upper-classmen parents with the blue shirts.
Before 7:00 am, parents with their cadets are lined up around the Alumni Center, where they find out which company their young cadet will be assigned to. We helped one student who flew from California and needed help getting to campus.
After their assigned company, they drive to the barracks where the cadet goes in and, in the middle of the quadrangle, meets the officers who will start the same process of all military organizations. You learn that you will be yelled at immediately and remember to follow orders.
At every station you go to, another officer gets your attention and asks you many questions or does certain things you find out you are not doing correctly.
The good news is that each officer was in those new cadets’ shoes just a short time ago. They remember how it felt. However, they have been through the training and understand how the process works to build a cohesive corps of cadets.
They will learn to be in step with the corps of cadets. They will learn to hear just the voice of their commanding officer. They will learn to rely on each other.
As I looked around, I watched the cadre interacting with each other and the knobs. You see, there are friendships between them. You know the family that they have become away from their homes.
It all starts with following those first instructions that seem so silly as to stand behind the piece of tape, but not too far, and to lean over and sign your name.
In just 3 hours, The Citadel had moved in 825 Knobs to their bunks and had them all dressed alike in the barracks in lines ready to begin their college career. I wonder how many other schools can quickly move that many students into their dorms. It is military precision taking place on their first day of school.
They think of everything at The Citadel. Each cadet is issued a Camelbak that they must keep complete and drink from regularly. You can watch the cadre coming behind them in formation, squeezing the Camelbaks to be sure they have water. They are telling them to drink their water.
While in formation, cadets must make the best of their time, yet they must wait for instructions. Here the cadre instructed them to read their Guidon. It has the rules of the corps of cadets. They must be able to recite this later in their training at a moment’s notice.
The Apostle Paul talked a great deal about the importance of the Corp of Cadets. Well, he called it being a part of the body of Christ.
Here is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to get them to stop bickering and not working together.
1 Corinthians 12
One Body with Many Members
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
You cannot be a leader or a follower if you are not a part of a community.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This week how will you be a part of the community of Christ? Who will you teach? What do you plan to learn? How will you serve?