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FROG Week looks different, but training leaders remains the mission

August 19, 2020

Structure has always been part of Freshman Recruit Orientation Group (FROG) Week at the University of North Georgia (UNG). It has only increased this year with social distancing, masks and other health and safety protocols implemented as the Corps of Cadets welcomed about 180 freshmen to campus for the Aug. 6-15 training event.

"FROG Week may look a little different this year because we're following the COVID-19 guidelines to keep every cadet healthy and safe," said retired Col. Joseph Matthews, commandant of cadets at UNG. "What has not changed is that we're still training the next generation of Army leaders."

FROG Week, led by cadets with supervision from the commandant staff, helps transition the incoming cadets to the military lifestyle of the Corps.

The Corps of Cadets spread move-in over two days to account for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All FROGs were required to check in at Memorial Hall, where they received two black cloth masks and a medical screening before they could unload their belongings in a residence hall.

"Based on our structure, the Corps of Cadets is a well-equipped organization to usher in these new guidelines of social distancing and wearing a mask because we train our leaders to be very flexible and adaptable," said cadet Lt. Col. Alex Fernandez, brigade executive officer.

Masks are considered part of the cadets' uniform this year.

Eve Harris, a freshman from Rochester, Minnesota, is pursuing a degree in modern languages with a Chinese language and literature concentration. She appreciated the chance to start off her time at UNG with such a strenuous training.

"We're all going through it together," said Harris, who is part of UNG's Chinese Language Flagship. "It's not just me. It's everybody."

In previous years, the main adjustments from earlier FROG Weeks involved implementing feedback from after-action reviews. This year's event required a complete reimagining of the schedule.

Team-building activities at Pine Valley Recreation Complex were not possible due to the logistics of transporting cadets in a safe manner. The road march and rappelling moved on campus from the traditional location at the Army 5th Ranger Training Battalion's Camp Frank D. Merrill.

Flexibility was an integral portion of the week. For example, cadet leadership moved in Aug. 1, which was ahead of when some could make it to campus.

"The Corps leadership has been resilient," said cadet Maj. Samantha Ethridge, brigade administration officer. "We have company-level cadre running brigade operations right now, and they're doing a fantastic job. We're all helping each other out to make things go as smoothly as possible."

It was a memorable week for Harris.

"It's tough," she said. "But I love it."

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