FORT KNOX, Ky. – Advanced Camp Cadets like 9th Regiment spend 19-days in the field where they are exposed to the heat and rain of the Kentucky forests that surround Fort Knox.

It is important to stay positive and think about the easy days ahead says Cadet Joshua Bell, Liberty University.

A 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp Cadet preparing a MRE after their Field Training Exercise at Fort Knox August 1, 2018. Photo by Dustin Massengill.

“It is all about positivity, taking one day at a time – not looking forward to the tough events that you are going to face – but taking each day as it comes and also taking away those days where you really aren’t doing much.”

Cadets participate in missions testing their tactical ability as well as their mental durability, teamwork and leadership. These tasks, added with the long periods of time spent working in the rain, pushes them to be more creative when keeping morale up.

Cadet Lynee Tieu, Florida State University, says when time is crunched and you need a caffeine pick me up, you can turn the coffee provided in the MREs (Meals ready-to-eat) into “ranger dip.”

Ranger dip is what Soldiers and Cadets call it when they place coffee grounds between their teeth and gums. Some recommend adding dry creamer to help with the taste, others swallow it  whole.

Instant coffee from an MRE at Fort Knox August 1, 2018. Photo by Dustin Massengill.

“It’s really terrible, but you just kind of break open the bag of coffee. Put a little bit of water in your mouth first, pour it in [the coffee into your mouth]. I swish it around so it hits my gums so it gets to my bloodstream faster and then I swallow it.”

Lynee recommends heating up the coffee whenever possible though.

“I do recommend warming up your coffee though, it helps with morale,” she said. “Who doesn’t want a warm cup of coffee in the morning? You know.”

Cadets also recommend creative usage of the MRE heaters. Using them to stay warm during the early mornings or to help dry wet boots.

“If your boots are wet, your socks are wet,” she said, “take your MRE heater, open it up, put it inside of your boot after you take out the insole and then let it heat up the inside. It works really well, I actually did it last night ”

Cadet Lynee Tieu, Florida State University, eats after their Field Training Exercise at Fort Knox August 1, 2018. Photo by Dustin Massengill.

“The nights get cold out here, I didn’t expect it,” Bell said. “Using the heaters from the MREs keep you warm, keep that body heat up.”

Cadet Nathan Francis, Pacific Lutheran University, says the best way to keep morale up is helping out and keeping battle buddies happy.

“It’s that mental motivation,” he started. “I am either singing or joking around with the guys.  We do a song of the day or inspirational quotes. Something like that, it keeps us going, these days are pretty long.”

If a battle buddy is especially irritable or down, use candy for a quick pick me up says Francis.

“Snacks, definitely,” he said. “I keep some. Like right now I have M&Ms just in case someone is feeling a little low.”