Youngster Year or 3/C Year – I remember being on the Yard on I-Day and watching two young men who were observing the Plebes getting off the bus by the back of Bancroft Hall. They had a serious, yet relieved look on their faces, so I decided to ask them what they were thinking. The two young men replied,”We’re just glad it’s not us anymore…”.
That is the perfect sentiment for the Youngster Year. They are Third Class Midshipmen, and although they still have to wear their uniforms when they are out and about in Annapolis, this is the year when they focus on their academics, any leadership opportunities that they are given, and PROTRAMID – their rising Youngster training where thye are able to rotate through the Fleet’s four service communities. They begin taking classes within their declared major. It is another transition year as they acclimate to NOT being Plebes and actually become “upper classmen”, and become mentors to the incoming Plebe class. Youngsters have survived Plebe Summer, Plebe year and are Midshipmen in their own right.
I personally think of this year as the year when they are “invisible” in a manner of speaking. Plebes are enduring Chow Calls, Pro Quizzes, Come Arounds, Chopping among some things. Second Class are busy fulfilling leadership requirements, planning, leading, teaching and assisting First Class with Plebe training , Firsties are busy with hands-on training and mentoring of the Second Class and of the Fourth Class, academics, Service Selection, Service Assignments, Commissioning, of course, and looking toward going out into the Fleet for their next opportunities. Youngsters focus on what they need to do to perform well in all areas.
Youngsters are usually allowed to take overnights on Saturday, unless they have watch or duty, which is a great plus when family and friends come to visit, and with their Sponsor families who will typically maintain what usually becomes a lifelong friendship even after Plebe year. There is also an honored ceremony that takes place Third Class Year – their respective Link in the Chain class will join them and give their USNA commissioning rings to be smelted with the gold to be used for the Third Class Midshipmen’s rings, thus making the bond between the classes, 50 years apart, permanent. It is a wonderful tradition!