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The bootcamp is my tiny universe

In the Sea Ranger Bootcamp there is a lot to do, so we are on a tight schedule. We do sports every day and get various trainings. It is an amazing experience. In the evenings we study a lot. We are challenged mentally. We have to work together under pressure and get assignments that bring up insecurities and fears.

four bootcamp participants in a wooded outdoor environment, working together as part of a team-building exercise.

On the second day this already brings up many emotional stories and even tears for some people. It’s scary to expose yourself like that, but after each assignment there is also relief: ‘I am not the only one with insecurities!’ You also immediately have a stronger connection with the people in your group. In a short period of time strong bonds appear betweens contestants, mostly with whom you share sleeping quarters and complete assignments with.

The strange thing is, the group you are bonding with are also your ‘competitors.’ The further the bootcamp progresses, the more I can feel it. Nobody says or shows it, but the tension is there. I am constantly comparing myself with teammates: ‘how is she doing that? Should I be more like him?’ And, inside our own group we are talking about the other groups: ‘The guy from group 1 is definitely going to be a Sea Ranger!’ and ‘I think she has a good chance as well.’

During the bootcamp there are always group leaders and sometimes assessment psychologists present. They keep a close eye on everyone and make sure that everything runs smoothly. They support us if we need it and make sure nobody crosses their own boundaries. Since they are judging us as well, it can be nerve racking to be constantly monitored. When they are present a lot of people step up their game a little bit, including me of course. Everybody is showing their best side, which sometimes makes it hard to see what their true character is. Sometimes I even doubt myself: Should I try to be more prominent or should I just be myself?

It is a weird thing, this bootcamp. For an extended period of time you live with a group of people in a small world where everything is focused on being selected as a Sea Ranger. In those days, this is your entire world. Your tiny universe. Everything that happens in this world you take very seriously. Little occurrences can become big and tensions can run high. You can compare it to some famous reality TV series. If I look back at it, it is kind of hilarious.

Aside from it being exciting and at times quite full-on, above all it is a lot of fun! For me it was a unique experience which I am happy to have been part of. I learned a lot, met new people and got out of my comfort zone. This all worked out extremely well. Not only did I learn a lot of practical skills, the most important things I learned are to believe in myself more and to stay true to myself. It was something I didn’t expect to learn when I applied for the bootcamp. And for this I can honestly say that, even if I hadn’t been chosen to become a Sea Ranger, I would still be glad that I was a participant of the Sea Ranger Bootcamp.

Want to know more about the work that I do at sea? Next week I will take you with me on a day (and nightwatch) on the Sea Ranger ship.

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