Over the summer, one Midlothian High School senior received training from esteemed United States Navy shipmen and got a taste of the U.S. Marines Corps life.
From June 2—9, Sidney Barnes attended the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis, Maryland, as well as the United States Marine Corps Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy from July 16—22 in Quantico, Virginia.
The eligibility requirements for these camps included superior academics, high achievements in athletics and extracurricular activities and exemplary fitness and health.
Only 200 students were selected to attend the SLCDA for the weeklong academy at the Marine Corps headquarters.
“The naval academy was a little glimpse into life at the academy and seeing if that’s somewhere I’d like to go," Barnes explained. "It was an opportunity for the academy to see if I’m someone they’d like."
Barnes is passionate about defending the American people’s rights and freedom.
“I’ve always felt like I’m capable of serving and if I’m capable then why shouldn’t I? Some people can’t," Barnes emphasized. “I’m so lucky to have been born in this country. I feel a lot of pride in being an American, and I feel like serving the military is the best way to give back.”
From her summer experiences, Barnes learned how there is always room for improvement and “you can always push yourself a little further, I think is one of the biggies.”
She recalled a three-hour leadership reaction course at the SLCDA. She grabbed her rubber rifle, various supplies and went off into the woods where she followed orders from a commanding officer.
“It was kind of hard because sometimes it was a bad call and I knew it. And, you just had to do what he said to keep the unity,” Barnes realized.
Another memorable moment was at the Navy Academy when the participants underwent a mini C-trial. Here she was educated on how to be a shipman. Her group traveled in a blow-up boat, called a zodiac.
“We had to jump in them, race them to the end of the pier and back," she relayed. "My squad had the fastest time in the entire battalion. There were three companies in the battalion and a couple hundred kids in each battalion. So that was pretty cool.”
Their tug-of-war team proved to be the strongest as well.
Every morning at the Navy Academy she participated in physical training lead by a Navy SEAL. When she compared the two camps, she concluded the training at the SLCDA was not as rigorous because it was more focused on character development and ethics.
Overall the experiences were “[…] very exciting. It was fun, but it wasn’t easy, which was fun," Barnes shared.
At the Navy Academy Barnes shared a room with four bunks and was organized into different rankings. Every morning at 5:30, she was woken up by leaders banging on doors who played loud music. She had 15 minutes to round up and be ready for the day. From there she’d hear what the itinerary was for the day.
The SLCDA had “hooches,” which are big metal cans cut in half with bunks lining them. She was amongst the Bravo and Charlie companies. Here she wasn’t woken up by leaders but instead on her own once the lights kicked on. The bathroom building was a quarter of a mile away and had open toilets and showers.
“We got very close. And I guess that’s the point, to hate the man together,” she elaborated.
Barnes met people from around the nation and a lot from Texas. “The biggest part was being around other kids who shared my same mindset and goals. I don’t think many kids want to join the military. It’s just not something they are interested in. And so being around kids who not only want to be in the military but also want to be leaders and officers," she elaborated. "I kind of showed me what I’m up against and showed me what I need to work on.”
Other than cardio, Barnes knows she needs to work on taking a step back and allow others to lead and only step in when needed.
After high school, Barnes strives to attend college, join ROTC and then commission into the Marine Corps.
She hopes to be granted a Naval ROTC scholarship to attend Texas A&M University. If she receives the nomination from a congressman to attend the Naval Academy that’d be ideal. For many students, the Naval Academy Summer Seminar is one of the first steps in pursuing a nomination into the United States Naval Academy. As of now, if she initially perused a bachelor’s degree, she’d like to study sports broadcasting.
She is an A&M sports super-fan and plays club lacrosse for Bridge, out of Oak Cliff, on the women’s varsity team. She is also involved in National Honors Society, Student Council and Interact at Midlothian High School.
Over Christmas in 2017, Barnes moved to Midlothian from Katy after her father, Brad Barnes, got the position as the parks and recreation director for the city. As she left home during her junior year in high school, she knew the transition would be difficult. But, ever since she migrated north, several opportunities arose through sports and military leadership.
“These were really great experiences, and I don’t think I would have been able to if I hadn’t moved here,” Barnes stressed.
Her message to other is “if you feel drawn to serve, the military is an option. I think a lot of those kids that put themselves behind other people — kind of like selflessness— they would be a good fit. For those who are willing, give it a shot,” Barnes stated.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-450