Archive for July, 2011

Hey guys! Long time no hear from, eh? Well, y’all already know I’m in Army ROTC at my school…
Well, I was at Fort Lewis, Washington conducting a giant training exercise known as LDAC (Leadership Development and Assessment Course) or “Warrior Forge”, designed to assess the readiness and key skills of the 6500 or so future Army officers that are about to begin their fourth year of college.

WWII-style barracks.. :/ Saddens consumes me

This whole thing is basically a big war game with confidence building exercises thrown in… or you could think of it as a shorter, nicer, slightly-less-intense Basic Training for ROTC students. Either way, you are definitely not in control of your time, your activities, or your showers. Whatever you bring is what you have, with the exception of a few items you can buy from the troop store.

Oh, and did I mention we were “in the field”, i.e. sleeping either outside or in tents, for 17 out of 29 days?

So, with this lack of time, supplies, and showers came the question on every tightly coiled mind as we geared up to leave for LDAC: “What the fudge am I going to do with my hair for a MONTH???”

Short answer: braids

Braids braids braids braids and more braids.

I spent 12 hours putting micro-braids into my own natural hair (no weave added) to get ready for camp, then I put a small bottle (2 ounces) full of leave-in conditioner in my bag and called it a day. Why? Because at camps like this, everyone has an over-sized bottle of shampoo and is more than willing to share in the shower with anyone else in their platoon (probably to boost those peer evaluations), but no one will have the leave-in that coily-heads need except a fellow coily-head, and I was the only one in my company of 250 students. Wow. My platoon had many, many questions and the hair touch-ery was abound.

Anywho, let’s just say Warrior Forge presented my hair with quite a few challenges, but I conquered them all!

Challenge #1: Braiding
Solution #1: Blow the hair out using a comb attachment after detangling and adding a leave-in (Garnier Fructis), then part and braid in small sections using Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Spritz lightly with half-n-half water and hair lotion recipe to curl the ends when done braiding. Twelve hours later and I was one cute soldier!

Challenge #2: No bonnet in the barracks
Solution #2: Moisturize your situation a lot more frequently, and hide those ends! The scratchy wool blankets that we sleep on brought nothing but nightmares and frizz to my head, not to mention incredible dryness. To combat these effects, I went ahead and wet my ends every other night while we were in the barracks, then applied my leave-in and tucked my ends under. I may have been unprepared for the frizz, but my hair was NOT going to be on my pillow when I left!

Challenge #3: Too much tension
Solution #3: Wearing your hair in buns and ponytails for a month can really mess with your hairline! I thought I was doing a good job by leaving the braids from my temples out of my bun and just tucking them gently into the sides, but what I forgot was something pretty interesting: your nape is your hairline too, and those hairs are just as fragile as the ones in the front. About 6 days into LDAC, I discovered little tension bumps on my lower left nape and had to start making looser ponytails, or gently pulling those braids once they were in the ponytail to give them a little slack. By day 12, the bumps were gone and my nape was loving me again.

Challenge #4: Dirty Hair
Solution #4: Two words: canteen salon. We only got to shower once a week once we left the barracks and began to live in the field, and we were sweating like pigs every day, so our ice-cold canteen salons kept us scalp-sore free and smelling… semi-OK. This was crucial in the field. CRUCIAL.

Challenge #5: CS Gas
CS gas, also known as tear gas, is something that you will encounter at LDAC, specifically in the gas chamber on day 8. The gas will suck, but what sucks much worse is that it gets into your clothes and hair and will reactivate when you sweat. This means you need to wash your hair as soon as possible after being exposed to the gas or you will end up re-exposing yourself at a very inconvenient time… like in your sleeping bag at about 3 AM. Yeah, I learn lessons the hard way.
Solution #5: Wash your hair with your head DOWN so as not to wash any CS residue into your eyes. This, like the last tip, is crucial. Otherwise, you will have what we refer to in the military as a “bad day”.

Well, I’m tired, and that’s all I can remember right now, so I’ll write more tomorrow. Until then…

Peace, Love, and Braids,

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