New Sponsor Family.... what does your child need from us?

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by SponsorOhana, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. SponsorOhana

    SponsorOhana New Member

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    Hello parents, We've received notification that we've been accepted into the Sponsor Program at USNA and will meet our plebe the beginning of August. We've read all the rules and will go to "training" before meeting our plebe, but would like to hear from you... What are the main things your child is looking for from their sponsor?
     
    Midwest likes this.
  2. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Welcome, SponsorOhana, and on behalf of a former plebe (I know, shocking news given my moniker :wink:) thank you ahead of time for being a "refuge in the storm."

    What I was looking for, in no particular order:

    1. Home-cooked food, eaten like a human being. That meant I could look at my food while eating it. I could sit back in the chair. I could slouch (a little - habits!). Most of all, though, it meant I could have conversations, or not, and laugh.

    2. Sleeping between sheets.

    3. Just plain unplugging. Playing video games with my sponsor brothers, watching baseball or hockey with my sponsor dad, chopping veggies for buffet tacos with my sponsor mom and talking about life in the service (they were both USN).

    Here's a great thread from three summers ago with multiple ideas for what people wanted, and suggestions for how you, sponsor family, can think about setting some boundaries that work for everyone. Mostly, though, we just appreciated the company and the opportunity to interact with people informally and not locked-up.
     
  3. SponsorOhana

    SponsorOhana New Member

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    Thank you for your input and for the link!
     
  4. Vista123

    Vista123 Member

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    I have a plebe with what is known as a "super sponsor"

    I can only refer to them as a blessing. They are kind and wonderful and giving and special.

    1. They are a home away from home on the odd days he can leave. He lays on their couch with headphones on and sleeps for hours, and get to play with their dog (my son is a dog lover).
    2. They go to DS' games (his games typically START at 10:30 at night and end after MIDNIGHT. The only people in the stands are them and a few other super sponsor parents. My mid's sponsor parents hold up big posters announcing them as his #1 fans (even when my mid isnt even playing in that game)
    3. They drive him and a truck full of his co mates to and from the airport over every single holiday (and spring break).
    4. when my mid got injured at practice and had to be taken to Bethesda they checked in on him after I had to leave to go back home.
    5. On the way home from christmas his sports gear got lost by the airlines. They repeatedly drove back and forth to the airport and finally physically searched a storage room, found it and hand delivered it to my son's locker room.


    This is why they are special though-Its a heart breaking story:

    They had two sponsor kids this year (my DS and one other). I was at USNA for Herndon festivities. Sponsor mom and I went to pick up my son and their other sponsor-mid. My son jumped into the car. The other sponsor-mid was on the curb with ALL of his stuff. And I mean all. No one said anything. The sponsor mom just quietly packed all of his stuff into the car. He quit USNA. USNA bought him a plane ticket home but his family wasnt speaking to him and wouldn't let him come home. He had no place to go and no phone and was planning on staying in the airport. He already had a full scholarship to the college he was 'transferring' to in the fall and also had a summer job lined up but no place to go until it started. The sponsor mom really just gave him a safe quiet place to regroup.

    Thank you SponsorOhana for being a sponsor parent.
     
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  5. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    My sponsor family were super-sponsors too. I've mentioned before that I went to USNA with no parental support. Neither of my parents came for I-day (not that uncommon) or Plebe-Parent Weekend (not that uncommon). But the 'rents asked me not to come home for Thanksgiving or Xmas, and when I outprocessed during June week, I had nowhere to go that summer before I transferred to the college from which I graduated.

    If I had not had such an awesome sponsor family, I would have quit long before the end of my plebe year, and on much worse terms, not of my own choosing. The simple kindnesses and understanding my sponsor fam extended to me is still among some of the most life-altering kindness I have ever received. It's nothing short of an act of grace to me.

    Not everyone has the capacity or the means to be that kind of person. But SponsorOhana, please don't underestimate the difference you'll be making - even as your refrigerator and pantry develop seeming self-emptying capacities. :shake:
     
  6. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    If you don't care to discuss it I understand, but I must admit I am very curious. Were your parents anti-Military? It seems like such a drastic reaction.

    I am just trying to imagine how hard it must have been to get through an academy such negatives working against you.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  7. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    Wow, what amazing sponsors! My son at USMA had a good sponsor...and did more than many, but nothing like what you describe. His sponsor's wife was from the deep south and only wanted southern cadets so they wouldn't laugh at her accent. They provided plenty of snacks, sweet tea, and SEC football at their home. They invited the cadets for Easter brunch and many other occasions. It was a place to chill, but not really as often as what I see described above.
     
  8. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    This is a little hard to explain. At the time, I thought it was simply that my mom was anti-military. My parents came of age in the 1960s, mom went to hear MLK speak, both peacefully protested the Viet Nam War and so on. Plus, it was the late 80s, and what I remember of that time - with the very incomplete experience of a 17-year-old - is that there was a lot of debate and backlash about Reagan's defense buildup. So, when my mom declined to sign her permission for me to enter USNA, I thought it was that she was anti-military. She was, a little, but looking back, she was MORE uncertain about her daughter entering a college that was completely unlike anything she had known prior to then. She was also nervous for her firstborn daughter entering an institution that, just 14 years prior, had been closed to women, and where women lived among and were outnumbered by men. It turned out, in hindsight, that she had good reason to be concerned: the infamous incident of a woman in my class being chained to a urinal in a men's head happened during my plebe year, and Tailhook was the following year. I'm just saying it was complicated - a lot more complicated than I gave it credit at the time. The uncomplicated part is that, frankly, my mom could and can be a little passive-aggressive, too.

    The reason they asked me not to come home during Thanksgiving was that they separated the week before that. I didn't find this out until my mom picked me up at the airport in mid-May, before I outprocessed. She was taking me to the campus visit of the small liberal-arts college where I ultimately transferred and from which I graduated. That's when I first heard they were divorcing.

    In my experience it's RARELY, purely that someone is anti-military. Yes, that is a fact of life, but I think it's often MORE that most people are still unfamiliar with the service academies, their missions, and that they are 4-year colleges.
     
  9. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    I guess I feel a little embarrassed, I was prying where it was none of my business. Can I just say that even at our age we still need Kudo's , and I am so impressed by what you did. You made a sound decision, and in spite of the adversity, YOU made is happen. Even after all these years, that is still AWESOME.

    Thanks for sharing perhaps the good that comes out of this might be that other parents will realize how much they need to rise above their own fears and issues and support their Kids.
     
  10. Blondie1

    Blondie1 Member

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    My plebe has been blessed with an amazing sponsor family. Dad is a USNA grad himself so knows what plebes are in need of. They have a plebe "cave" where plebes can sleep as late as they like, TV, video games, music, they are very informal and allow our son to just be another member of the family. They cook homemade meals, take him to the airport, pick him up from the airport, and have even nursed him back to health when he was sick. We love our sponsor family. They are part of our family now! Love sending them little gifts from our end of the country.
     
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  11. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    It's not prying if I can say "I'd rather not share." I replied because I thought it might help current and future mids, their parents, and sponsors.

    I've said it before, elsewhere, that although I attended USNA for just one year, I credit that year of my life as one of the most important. Plebe year was when I formed or began forming some of my best habits. I've never been a part of such a diverse group, before or since - financial and social backgrounds, races and ethnicities, religions, political inclinations, intellectually, etc. And, that was the year I learned to be resilient, although I didn't realize it at the time. How many people do we know who spend years or decades more in the School of Hard Knocks - or never even graduate? I am still grateful, every day, for those eleven months.
     
  12. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

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    Food, bed, quiet. Mostly food. A lot of food.

    This thread brings back great memories of being a sponsor family to cadets at West Point. Airport and train runs, Super Bowl parties, Easter dinners, graduation parties. Can I store some stuff at your quarters? Yes. Can I stop by anytime to bake a birthday cake for a companymate? Yes. Can I borrow your axe to duct tape to General Washington’s hand for a spirit mission? Ummmmm……..ok, yes.

    We witnessed a great spectrum of how cadets interacted with their sponsor families. Some seemed rather formal and forced, as if neither party really enjoyed it. But what I saw more often was from the sponsor relationships that did not work out, cadets would be adopted by a roommate’s ‘cool’ sponsor family and all would be well for the rest of their time at the academy. It’s great that there is a program to set you up with a family, but we also saw cadets being picked up in a more organic manner by a coach or a mentor’s family. Those relationships always worked out the best, not that a system match can’t.

    We always enjoyed hosting and getting to know our cadet’s family as well as their significant others. (More airport runs to pick up the dates for the special weekends.) You just might not need those grad week reservations if you have a truly fantastic sponsor family that has a big enough home!

    The bond continues for years, with visits back for homecoming, weddings, etc.
     

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