Graduation Week

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by navy, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. navy

    navy Member

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    Trying to do some 2014 planning. Does anyone have a rough grad week schedule? Any thoughts will be appreciated. When to arrive COS. What events are good/bad. What are the not miss events. Can family members attend all events, etc? Are ther dates for 2014 published yet? Thanks
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    As for the events, you should check with your graduating cadet. First, there are some that they don't want to have anything to do with. On the other hand, depending on their standing in the class, you may have a lot of events to attend. I.e. There were 2 days of parades that the cadets MUST attend, so we attended those. After the one parade, my son was receiving an individual award, so all of those cadets (And their guests) went to Clune arena. (Basketball arena). If you weren't getting an individual award, you didn't have to go to that. There was also another awards ceremony at the major study departments for individuals receiving awards there for being like #1 in your major/class, etc...

    There were also some open house events where you could see all your cadet's teachers, classes, etc.... Some cadets wanted to go to these, some didn't. Check with your cadet. Then of course, each squadron has their pinning on ceremony at night, when your cadet is actually made a 2nd Lt.

    In other words, there's a lot of events. Some, your cadet has NO CHOICE ABOUT. You should check with them to decide what THEY WANT TO ATTEND. Chances are; if they aren't involved or being recognized, they WON'T WANT to attend; if they ARE involved or being recognized, they MUST and WILL WANT to attend.
     
  3. djms19

    djms19 Member

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    I too am looking for thoughts/suggestions regarding graduation week. Although my DD will graduate in 2015 and that sounds like a long time away, I know the time will pass quickly; that some vacation home rentals are already booked for grad week 2015; and that nearby hotel rooms need to be booked well in advance. Any suggestions on logistics of all this? For example, friends, family, relatives who may want to attend from out of state may not want to/be able to commit (vacation scheduling, etc) 'till probably 6 months out I'm guessing -- but I want to somehow suggest they make tentative plans and let me know a year out or so. Yet asking for such notice may sound pushy/presumtive. So any advice....how much we should try to assist with other's travel/stay/activities, booking cancellable blocks of rooms, experience with renting a home for a week, how many days parents should devote to graduation "week", best place to sit at stadium, etc., etc., would be appreciated.

    Thank you!
     
  4. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    We rented a house for the week, starting the Thursday before graduation. If you compare the cost of renting a house (ours was 3BR plus fold-out sofas in den and family room, 3BA, 2 car garage) with the cost of renting 4 hotel rooms (at PEAK rates!), the house won out for us. We paid $1500 for the house for the week. We saved a lot on meals such as breakfasts and lunches because we just kept easy stuff at the house and didn't have to go out to eat. The grads have to be out of the dorms immediately after the grad ceremony and a house with a garage was a great place to move all the 'stuff' beforehand. Our garage ended up holding a lot of other cadet's stuff including a motorcycle. The best deals on houses go fast, so look into it early. We booked ours when our cadet was a doolie. This particular house is already booked for graduation in 2013 and 2014. Even with the house we had three other family member groups who rented hotel rooms. They weren't real close to the Academy but they used our house as a local 'base' during the day.

    This was our timetable:

    Thursday: Arrived at COS and settle in.

    Friday: Grocery shopping, check on cake order, decorations, prep for open house, etc. Took cadet to dinner, and let him spend time with girlfriend, etc.

    Saturday: Moved as much stuff as feasible out of cadet's room to the house, then rafting trip for those who wanted to.

    Sunday: Baccalaureate Mass (0800 for us, based on squadron). 1200-1700 Open House at the house for family, friends of cadet, sponsor, etc. This actually ended up going until midnight because of all the people who came over. I think we ended up being the 'final stop' for many other cadets and families because of all the space that we had with the backyard and the house. It was a great time.

    Monday: Awards Parade 1000. Then Free Day to tour sites, cog railway, whatever. Everyone went different directions. I sat on the porch of the house all afternoon and watched the Thunderbirds practice for the Graduation show. It is a very busy week and the house was a great sanctuary for some downtime for me. Everyone met for dinner at The Elephant Bar at 1800.

    Tuesday: Graduation Parade 1000. (this was cancelled due to weather) Department awards ceremony, Squadron open house, department open house. Commissioning ceremony for us was at 1730. (TBD by squadron.) Graduation reception at Mitchell hall 1700. Graduation Ball 2030. We skipped the reception and Ball to get to bed early.

    Wednesday: Graduation 1000 (be there before 0800!). Seating section is assigned by squadron. We had a cookout at the house in the afternoon for everyone, after cadet checked out of his dorm. That evening we went out to dinner in Monument with just immediate family.

    Thursday: Begin the caravan home.


    Remember, make the grad week what you and your cadet want. Some choose to have a very simple time, with no dinners, parties, etc. Others put our plans to shame and have extravagant catered dinners every night and activities planned all the time, with gift bags and party favors, etc. There is no wrong way to do graduation. Just make sure you enjoy the event. After all, it is the end(?) of a long road for parents, as well as cadets.

    Stealth_81
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    For what it's worth. Colorado Springs is a HUGE CITY. More than a half MILLION people in the city and suburbs. More hotels and restaurants than you can count. When my son was at the academy, we were down there visiting just about every weekend in the fall; "Season Football Game Ticket"; and a few weekends here and there in the spring.

    I invited my mom, sister, brother, their wives/husbands/kids, in-laws, etc... for my son's graduation. I made reservations around February. "About 3 months before graduation". No problem getting rooms; and these were close by hotels. There's a lot of them near the academy.

    Yes, trying to rent a house might be more difficult, but motels aren't hard at all. Even if you didn't get a motel right outside the base gate, there are literally a hundred of them within 15 minutes of the main gate. I wouldn't wait until May 1st to make reservations, but you also don't have to reserve them 9 months out either.

    Then again, we don't spend a lot of time in the motel. We were out to the base around 8am for the parades and didn't get back to the motel until around 3-4pm. Go to dinner, then usually bake to the base for pinning on ceremony or something else. In other words, it didn't bother us to be in the Howard Johnson or similar style of motel. I was quite content paying $60-$80 a night per room. (I paid for all the rooms being the family members paid to fly out here. I only live 2 hours from the academy). Of course, after the 3 days of graduation ceremonies; Monday-Wednesday; everyone car pooled back to Wyoming to my house. I assume for those traveling a long way out, they may want to make Colorado part of a vacation.

    Bottom line: Check with your cadet. Find out what THEY WANT. After all, it is THEIR GRADUATION. Then, make your plans around that.
     
  6. djms19

    djms19 Member

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    It's been my experience for Parent Weekends that it is slim pickings for hotel/motel rooms even 8-10 months out. I thought Graduation Week would be the same. Am I incorrect?

    Also, I assume graduating cadets have built up a lot of possessions and was wondering how most get those things home or to their next duty assignment immediately after graduation.
     
  7. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Our experience was different than Christcorp's. We did have trouble finding hotel rooms for the rest of our group that were nearby and inexpensive. We were looking for them about 5 months before graduation and couldn't find any near USAFA for less than $189/night so we booked about 35 minutes away. As I said these people then used our house as a base during the day. I know that within the USAFA 2011 parent's group there were a lot of people looking for rooms.

    It is really surprising how much stuff they can accumulate in 4 years!

    The AF pays for a move to their next duty station. The move can be directly from COS to the next base, or from their home of record to their next base. They have 60 days of leave right after graduation so it can depend what they are planning on doing for those 60 days, and where they actually will be spending their time before training for their new career.

    Our son and I hauled all of his stuff back to our home in his Excursion and my Suburban. He stayed at our house for the 60 days so it made sense. He then did a DITY move from our house to Laughlin AFB. Some of the graduates will spend the Fall semester following graduation at USAFA on casual status so it makes sense to leave their stuff there and have the AF move it to their next base when the actually report.

    Short answer - It will depend on what they are doing after USAFA.

    Stealth_81
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Stealth is correct. And it seems that each year is indeed different. We always found it more difficult to get a motel room for parent's weekend than it was for graduation. But definitely don't wait. If your son/daughter is graduating this May, I definitely would be on the internet getting those reservations now. For parent's weekend, we usually just got a room for Friday night. Then, after the football game on Saturday, when they release the cadets for the rest of the weekend, we usually left town. My son's senior year, he was 21 years old, so we went to Blackhawk. It was labor day weekend and there's a lot of cool things up in that area. "Not just casinos". There's some cool old mining towns with many things to see, shopping, etc... Basically, we left the immediate area. So people stay close by and go to things like 7 falls, garden of the gods, and other local sights/excursions. Living in the area; within 2 hours; we'd already seen most of those things. We always chose to go a little further away. Hotels were never an issue.

    As for packing up your 2nd Lt's personal belongings, Stealth again is quite correct. A lot depends on where your son/daughter is going next. They have 60 days of vacation; MOST have a car and will want to drive it to their next assignment; and most actually don't have that much stuff. The biggest thing is usually their trunk. Being we live close, I went down the weekend BEFORE graduation, and loaded up my pickup truck with pretty much everything my son had, other than some uniforms, clothes, and laptop. After graduation, we all headed back to Wyoming. My son left about 4 hours later, because they have a lot of outprocessing left. For those who live further away and can't fit everything in their car/truck, they had the military ship their trunk either home or to their next base. Other than that trunk, that we all know can fit 2 adult bodies if packed properly, most cadets don't have that much stuff. But if your Lieutenant isn't going to drive to their next base, or it's really out of the way for where they'll be during their 60 vacation and their new base, the military will ship everything if they want them to. It will be waiting in storage for them when they get to their next base.
     

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