Becoming a Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper is no easy task, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Trooper Cadets face many challenges as part of their training at the Trooper Academy, but as they overcome each obstacle, these Cadets are built into the strong and capable Troopers we rely on every day.
We asked WSP Training Division Commander Shannon Bendiksen what she sees as the hardest part of the Academy for new Cadets. Here are some of the biggest things she’s seen new Cadets struggle with, and the ways WSP supports them through it:
Being Away From Family
During the six-month Training Academy, Cadets live in onsite barracks 24/5, only able to leave during weekends. This intensive training period is a challenge for almost all Cadets.
For some, the Academy is their first time living away from mom and dad at home. For others, the Academy experience can be a difficult period of separation from family. Many young families are forced to make a temporary transition from a two-parent to a single-parent household, leaning on friends or relatives to ensure their children are provided for.
The immersive 24/5 time together is for a purpose, however Trooper Cadets are experiencing the same intensive training, and form tight bonds with their cohort during their time at the Academy. Instructors understand the intensity of the new experience, and take steps to mentor Cadets through it. And of course, the weekends are still free to spend with family and friends.
Just like students in college, Trooper Cadets are expected to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Often, Cadets choose to spend more time on the classes and programs they like or are already good at, instead of working on the areas they need to improve in. When they finally realize they’re falling behind in those unfamiliar skills, they’ll try to cram the material – sometimes leading to high stress and low-quality finished work.
The instructors and Commanders at the WSP Academy are some of the very best in their respective fields, but even the best training takes time to master. Academy instructors say they see the best results from those Cadets who use their time wisely to master skills, ask questions, and stay ahead in their studies.
The Paramilitary Experience
Being a Trooper Cadet is a lot like being a college athlete. In addition to staying on top of your studies, you will be expected to keep up on your “sport.” For Cadets, this means staying in good physical shape and passing Physical Training, as well as absorbing tons of new information in class. Add to that combination the intense paramilitary experience of living at the Academy and reporting to ranked officials with very high standards and expectations, and you’re in for a demanding 26 weeks.
The tough nature of the Trooper Academy can be difficult for new Cadets, but with the support of your fellow Trooper Cadets, the mentorship and experience of your instructors and Commanders, and the proven methods of our world-class training, you will be graduating from the Academy and serving your community as a full-fledged Trooper before you know it.