After spending nine weeks at the Recruit Training Command in Chicago, Illinois for boot camp and then an additional nine weeks at Naval Technical Training Center in Meridian, Mississippi, physical education teacher Benjamin Kampper finally returned back to Walpole High School on Monday, Jan. 30.
Kampper was inspired to join the Navy two years ago when a Marine recruiter spoke to the Walpole High School faculty about the Marine Educators workshop. After spending four days at Marine Boot Camp, he asked questions about his eligibility, got the approval from Principal Stephen Imbusch and started the process of joining the Navy.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This country has given me so many opportunities, and it was time to give something back,” said Kampper.
During his time at boot camp, Kampper not only trained to become a member of the Navy, but he also learned many life lessons. The drill sergeants shave the heads of their recruits, take away all of their belongings, require all of their recruits to wear the same clothes and refer to each of their recruits as ‘recruit’ instead of using their real names; therefore, the recruits must find new ways to create identities for themselves.
“The only way to stand out is through your actions; I reaffirmed to myself that I am an optimistic, motivated leader,” said Kampper. “You also learn the importance of putting the mission of the Navy ahead of all else. This can easily be applied to everything else I do in life; just having a ‘team-first’ mentality.”
In addition, Kampper’s experiences in boot camp taught him a lot about perspective and how to keep a positive mindset no matter how negative a situation may be.
“In the Navy, we say ‘things can always be worse.’ If you are having a bad day at school or at practice, just stay positive and look for any reason to remain hopeful. This is the mindset that got me through boot camp, and it is a mindset I will bring to every aspect of my life,” said Kampper.
Throughout his training, Kampper proved to be one the most physically fit and scholarly sailors at boot camp; he was awarded the “Honor Graduate” for having the best PFA (physical fitness assessment) and academic test average out of 419 sailors.
Now that he is officially a part of the Navy, Kampper will report to his new station in Newport, Rhode Island, one weekend every month. In addition, he will do two weeks of training during the summer to remain up-to-date on his job.
“I love this country. I have always had so much respect for the members of the Armed Forces, and it was a constant regret of mine to not have served myself,” said Kampper.