letters during blocks

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by blackhawkmom, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. blackhawkmom

    blackhawkmom Member

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    Stupid question number --oh i forget how many now----during blocks they will be various places on ships etc---can we write to them and how will we know the addresses?
     
  2. greeneagle5

    greeneagle5 Member

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    You can always send letters to your mid/cadet's POBox.....they will eventually receive them......( at reform:shake:).....in reality it's not very practical unless your Mid/Cadet is on the Yard for his/her block (maybe YPs :confused:)...doubt there were any mail-call opportunities for my Mid last few summers while somewhere under the South-Atlantic on a sub, or on a sea-kayak w/ NOLS on Prince William Sound ....besides training assignment schedules can and do change with little advance notice....short emails, text messaging and an occassional phone call are how we usually communicate during Summer Cruises..:thumb:( except when he was 150 miles out from nowhere off the Alaskan coast sea-kayaking for 26 days:thumb:).

    :director: GO NAVY !!!
     
  3. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Good question, Blackhawkmom! Of course, I hardly ever hear from mine during the school year, so I don't expect it to be any better over the summer! :rolleyes: What blocks were your Plebes assigned?

    Mine got summer cruise first block. He's hoping for Hawaii or Dubai. (Anyone know the likelyhood of that?) Leave for second block, and YP cruise-VA to ME- for third block. He seemed happy with is assignments!
     
  4. lovethenavy

    lovethenavy Member

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    Help! I don't understand anything about summer blocks and what my DS will be doing. All he says is he is going to get a ship and go on a YP boat. Then thinks he might go somewhere during his break like Europe. Heaven help me. I think he likes to yank my chain. So, can someone give me a mental picture of what they actually do and where they go? Generally? Thanks for filling me in. My son seems to be speaking in tongues lately. He uses a lot of acronyms that I do not understand.:eek:
     
  5. blackhawkmom

    blackhawkmom Member

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    Feeling the confusion---DS has 1st block surface-2nd block vacation-3rd block YP----as of now---waiting til May to set vacation plans! As for letters --oh well letters haven't been my friend anyway sooo----here we go wait wait wait--Gumby indeed! He is happy as far as the navy dictionary (websters went out the door about July 8th of last year)! He tells us little to nothing but hey ---if he tells us he said he has to kill us so--GO NAVY!
     
  6. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    For all above, the "getting a ship and going on YPs" is about as explicit as it can be right now. Though ships are designated in advance to be midshipman training platforms, that can all change when real-world operations and situations crop up. Witness recent and ongoing missions to Japan. Assignments will all be relatively fluid until a short time prior to the actual training block, in terms of what ship, where, when and how long. If the ship remains in port the entire time, or is out and in for a few days at a time, there should be some access to email. If the ship is at sea for a longer period, or actually on deployment, then communication is more intermittent, depending on how much personal email is permitted while at sea. For the short period of the "cruise," snail mail would not be the way to go, because the midshipman would not be a permanent member of the crew. Mids are exceptionally bright and creative when it comes to finding ways to communicate, and they will quickly learn the ropes of how it's done at sea.

    Current and more recent alumni can give better specifics and personal experiences. We have seen cruise assignments change on the day before. Ships break, other ships/schedules get assigned. Weather intervenes, and the ship is now scheduled into port later. They can get back earlier; they can get back later. As soon as our sponsor mids get back to Annapolis from one segment of summer leave or training, they are leaping onto the computer to log in and check if there are any schedule changes to the next block.

    YP cruises are much more routine and predictable. The YPs are berthed in Annapolis.

    Your DS/DD don't know much more than you do right now, unless it's summer school blocks, internships or other very specific assignments.
     
  7. lovethenavy

    lovethenavy Member

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    Thank you! Excellent post. I don't feel quite so in dark now.
     
  8. singaporemom

    singaporemom Member

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    If he gets Dubai, they have an excellent USO. I used to work there '93-95. It had greatly expanded from then. My current plebe used to crawl and run all over that place when he was a baby!
     
  9. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    My DS is a 3/C....I was wondering many of the same things about a year ago. Maybe this information will help.

    First, most of your plebes will get a surface cruise as a training block. Mine went out of San Diego last year, participated in the first beach landing exercises of amphibious craft in two years with 14 other countries off of Coronado Island. Then they sailed to Hawaii. He and the other mids and a few ROTC (seemed like there were 15-20 total on this ship) were on the Bonhomme Richard, a Marine LHD (you parents only thought there was a bunch of acronyms associated with USNA, wait till you see the fleet acronyms!). The BHR (Bonhomme Richard) had a facebook page, so I saw in general what they were up to. The mids participated fully in everything. They rode in the amphibious craft out of the well of the ship to the beach, rode in helicopters over the Pacific on the way to Hawaii, shot various guns from the deck, etc. I wondered if they'd be just watching, but they were immersed pretty fully in all that went on. He presented his father with a couple of 25mm shells from a gun he fired off the deck. They refueled a new stealth ship at sea (Maybe named something like Freedom), which was it's first refueling. The ships top two officers were USNA grads, so treated the mids very well.

    Some of his buddies started their cruises in Norfolk, seemed like most were San Diego or Norfolk. One of his friends flew to Croatia to begin his surface cruise.

    My son had a blast. He has no desire to go SWO upon graduating from the academy, but was with Marines, which is one of his primary interests, so that was very interesting to him. He took plenty of pictures.

    He did report a couple of ROTC guys and a mid who were way out of line, drinking (way too much) in Hawaii, not making it back to the ship, even a girl who slept with one of the officers on board while drunk. He was pretty amazed at the behavior. The girl did not return to USNA. While in Hawaii, he shared a room with a couple of others from the cruise for a couple of days, then slept on the ship a couple of days. Couldn't rent a car, so rented a bike and looked around some. He had several days there before flying back to Annapolis.

    My son sailed the other training cruise on the 44 foot sailboats out of Annapolis. There were 8 mids and 2 instructors on each craft. They sailed to NAPS, which took like 4 days, without landing anywhere. Spent the night at NAPS, looked around some there. Sailed through NY harbor. It was really hot, like 105+ every day. When he came home for a week after 3 weeks on the water, he was very tan! Sailing was ok, but he passed on the chance to train and be an instructor this summer. Their boat's latrine did not work well and he was in charge of keeping it up and running for one way of the trip. There was a girl on their boat who complained bitterly the entire 3 weeks......the others (1 other girl and 6 boys) were very fed up with her.

    My son also opted to sign up for summer school, taking the navigation course he would have had in the fall of his 3/C year. This allowed him to be a bit more relaxed as he started his engineering classes in the fall. He tells me the nav course is not hard, but time consuming, so he was glad to have it out of the way. By taking summer school, we only had him 8 days. Which was ok. He felt prepared for the school year and ready when reform came.

    Compared to what his high school buddies did over their summer between freshman and sophomore years of college, he was happier than a pig in mud!

    Now, for this summer: protramid (Professional Training for Midshipmen).....don't know a lot about that yet. And he will be the 2/C in his company (one per company) who deals with "admin" during one of the plebe summer blocks and helps the 1/C detailers. This is kind of a stepping stone to being a detailer next year.

    He is currently on Sea Trials staff for his company. They did a "run through" yesterday for SMT, working on their times, etc for each part of Sea Trials.

    I know this is not true for every midshipman, but ours is not pining for home. And really never was. Is grateful to be here at Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break (last year, his plebe year, he went to San Diego with a friend for Spring Break) that week in the summer, but is very happy there and quite frankly, two weeks of our routine is plenty for him. That is his life now.This summer he has plans for the open block as well. He plans to spend time, on his own, with a buddy from USNA whose father is an Admiral, at a base in San Diego working out with SEALS during his open block. We hope to have him a week. The opportunities they have,the friends they make.....all very cool.

    We try to go up for a football game....we are not far from Colorado Springs (well, 300 miles), so met him and a buddy there for Navy-Air Force football last fall. I got to go to Herndon with his older brother...managed to work it into a DC conference. We may go this summer to Annapolis. I miss him terribly and it is hard to admit that he is ready to return to USNA after two weeks with the fam. Their world is so very different..........coming home is a drastic change, much more so than a "regular college" student experiences.

    So, parents, when you get your kiddo's ship assignments, search facebook. Encourage them to take a camera with them on their summer adventures. Be prepared to hear about all kinds of exciting things. I even got an app for my iphone with Navy SEAL abbreviations and definitions, and the Navy News app. I haven't had time to look, but I am sure there are more apps related to all of this. I need to search "marines" on the app store.

    These summer cruises are sort of training for us parents as our mids will transition into the fleet, sooner than you'd like to think!

    I hope to hear about all your DS/DD's summer assignments and how the plebes fare over the summer as well! This forum is a lifeline for parents!
     
  10. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    Nice post, jennyp!

    If they're ashore but not on the Yard, cell phones/texts & email work much better than snail mail. Even if they're on a ship, they can sometimes get texts if they're w/i sight of shore

    We've had multiple Mids including my DD for the past few years, so here are more anecdotes about summer training blocks:

    Youngster summer assignments:
    - Block 0 is often required, even without an "official" assignment. Participation in Sea Trials, Herndon, and Commissioning (required attendance, if on the Yard) occur during this ~ 2 week block. Lots of watch standing, moving out of Ac year rooms, and Town Liberty!!!!!
    - NASS squad leader: Block1, one week of briefings and set-up prior to start, generally two weeks as a squad leader, and one week standing watch and being support staff
    - "Grey hull" cruise: could be any Block 1-3, time spent in the Big Navy in enlisted quarters. The quality of the experience varies hugely based on the ship's training officer, and the Mid's desire. DD had a month - 2 days tied up at the dock in Norfolk. Spent most time with the deck and supply departments. Begged for assignments until she got some. Friends have had fantastic cruises: submarine cruise from Pearl to Japan with liberty on both ends being the best
    - YP's: Some years they have cruised up or down the Atlantic coast. For Class of 2012 (at least DD's roomie), they mostly chugged out for the day, then back to the Yard
    - Sailing: Friend in 2011 had the USNA to NAPS trip described by jennyp, with a separate crew returning the Navy 44 to the Yard
    - soaring (mentioned by others already)

    2/C trainings:
    - PROTRAMID: I am not aware of any new 2/C who has NOT done this. Only real "choice" is to request east coast versus west coast and request desired block. During the Block they spend time on a surface ship, a submarine, with the Marines, and with an aviation group. DD did aerobatics in a trainer jet (yep, she was on the stick for barrel rolls!), and she was on the helm of a SSBN (missile sub) for training manuevers (think Hunt for Red October - almost!). She rode in an Osprey and one or more helos. DD's experience was outstanding, except for the few days she spent on the same ship as on her Youngster cruise. Got similar very positive feedback from her friends and from those we know from 2011.
    - Staff for Sea Trials: 2/C act as squad leaders and other junior staff positions
    - Staff for Plebe Summer: 2/C act as sailing instructors and shooting range instructors, under the command of Firsties
    - Many competitive options to "choose" from for 2nd training - w/i the needs of the Navy and success in applications (see upper class options, below 1/C info)

    1/C: trainings: (generally must apply and be accepted)
    - Detailer for Plebe Summer
    - Leadership position (Block 0) for Sea Trials: could be in command/executive officer of a single exercise, all the exercises held in one area, or over the whole she-bang
    - Leadership position on sailing (boat captain) if qualified or YP
    - Leadership position at NASS (senior staff)
    - Leadership position at NAPS
    - "Cruise" in area of interest for service selection (surface, sub, "Leatherneck" for Marines, or aviation): instead of ~one week observing as in PROTRAMID, an entire Block is spent in their assigned/chosen area. Note that a friend spent less time in the air during his "aviation" cruise than DD did during PROTRAMID - not sure if that's typical. If a Mid wants USMC, they must do Leatherneck, although a small group (almost all prior Marines) may be assigned to an active duty MAGTF, or Marine task force.

    Extremely competitive things that are open to upperclass, preference going to rising Firsties, then 2/C (not sure if 3/C can apply)
    - Internships: non-paid positions (besides regular Mid pay) connected to their major, generally in the DC area. Examples: systems engineering major working at JHU on robotics; chemistry major working at the Pentagon on energy-related program (housing and transport can get expensive)
    - Travel/learning experiences: a couple of real recent examples (not all available during any given summer): 1. study the Holocaust, included time in NY and in Poland 2. only open to chem majors - travel to Egypt to study/observe oil-related chemistry, with time allowed to visit Naval facilities and archeological sites 3. National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS): Highly competitive application. The very few Mids who are accepted get to spend their block in some form of wilderness experience. This is an expensive option, as the Mids must pay a large fee $$$
     
  11. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Lovethenavy and Blackhawkmom, mine is also doing "cruise", leave, then YPs. It would be cool if some/all of them were together. I know the chances aren't great, but we will have to keep in touch when we find out the actual assignments!

    Thanks to the more seasoned parents for all the stories and thoughts! Every bit of knowledge helps. I hope mine has a cool experience like yours did, JennyP!
     
  12. falconchic88

    falconchic88 Member

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    And DS is close to that, he has leave, cruise, then YP's.
     
  13. mumsyto3

    mumsyto3 Member

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    DS has Block 1 Alaska NOLS, Block 2 leave and then Block 3 cruise. He told us yesterday that he'll probably be able to come home after his last exam on 5/9 until 5/15! Thankfully we don't live too far away so easy to pick him up!
     
  14. heartcross

    heartcross Member

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    Yes, NOLS is expensive, but they allowed the mid to pay for her equipment rental after she got her loan. She mentioned in an email just yesterday that it had been the highlight of her summer trainings and that she'd do it again in a heartbeat. She did the Wind River, WY trip.
     
  15. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Alaska is beautiful...(My DS is an Alaska Mid!) Hope your Alaska NOLS kids enjoy every minute! Is it a survival thing? I don't know anything about it.

    Mine also mentioned having some time off between Finals and Sea Trials/Herndon. We aren't allowed to tell the sisters or the GF as he wants to surprise them. Anyone else hear about this?
     
  16. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    Yes, they have from the time of their last final exam until the time they are required to report back for "Block 0" events such as Sea Trials & Herndon. I think my almost-a-Firstie has from 10 May to 15 May, but the dates may be different depending on each person's exam schedule, and when they are required to report back.
     
  17. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    I don't know the last final for mine, but he did say he had to back on the 15th at 2200.
     
  18. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Oh, and good luck to all your Mids on 12-weeks coming up!!
     
  19. lovethenavy

    lovethenavy Member

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    I need some info. What do you all think of mids going on military transports to Europe on their own during their time off this summer? I don't know anything about this. My DS has come up with this latest idea and I have to admit, I am a bit nervous about him traveling abroad with all the latest world developments. Of course, I also realize that he is an adult and I want him to have all of the opportunities that life has to offer....I would just like some input. Thanks for keeping me sane! :yllol:
     
  20. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    A friend's Mid hitched a flight to Europe with some fellow Mids two summers ago. The flight was very cheap, and they had a great time. Of course, things were more settled then. It's really important for them to not wait 'til the last minute to return, because it's "space available," so they can get bumped.
     

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