Parent's weekend

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by AHS74, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. AHS74

    AHS74 Member

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    This will be our first parent weekend this Labor Day. What day do most parents get there and when do they leave. I would like to start looking into making travel plans. Thanks for your help.
     
  2. lonewolf210

    lonewolf210 New Member

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    Depends on the parent's some get there several days before, some get there that Friday. The norm is probably to fly in Thursday night thou. I am assuming your kid will be a doolie?

    That Friday is simply visiting their classes but they can leave that night with you but must be back for the football game Sat.
     
  3. Mikeandcris

    Mikeandcris Parents of 2014 Grad and F-15 Pilot

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    Suggestions

    Last year we arrived at the Academy around 2:00pm on Thursday. Some cadets were seeing their parents near the Chapel by then for relatively short meetings. We met our son on the IM field where he was practicing with his team. That evening we returned around 7:00 with fast food and met with him for an hour near Arnold Hall.
    The next day was devoted to being on campus from around 7:00am to 3:30 as we met our son and went to his classes. At 3:30 we took him off campus to our hotel, and he had dinner and spent the night with us. On Saturday we drove to the football stadium and arrived around 10:00am. He had a squadron "tailgate" party which we attended, and then we made our way to Thudgate where we met many of the folks from this forum. That was a fantastic experience.
    After the game we again took our son off campus and didn't return until about 6:30pm on Monday.
    Hotel reservations are filling fast for Thursday and Friday nights in Colorado Springs. We spent Saturday and Sunday near Boulder. My wife and I also spent Monday night in Colorado Springs after dropping off our son and returned to California on Tuesday.
    That's the thumbnail version. My best advice: Book your hotel room now (but be wary of cancelation policy "just in case") and get your car through Hotwire about 2 weeks before. (Rental rates are outrageous if you book early.)
     
  4. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    I would definitely arrive earlier on Thursday if you can. Unfortunately you probably won't know the situation until that day on what your cadet will be able to do and it'll probably change even then. First of all, we were all told that for sure our cadets would have their phones back so we'd be able to coordinate. Due to a miscommunication in my son's squad (U/C had them locked up and was unavailable to give them out and no one else had the combination), they didn't on Thursday at all. So we were communicating by email. Before we flew out, we had heard that we "might" be able to see them by the chapel wall, sometime around dinner time, maybe for an hour. Since we were traveling with our two younger sons, we'd arrived late Wednesday night and were spending the day out at Royal Gorge Park (about 1.5 hours from USAFA).

    Around lunchtime we got an email from our cadet saying, basically, "Hey, I can see you now if you want!" Needless to say this was extremely frustrating since we hadn't seen him since June and were now too far away! We asked if we left then if we could see him as soon as we got there, but he then had class and D&B practice. We drove back, emailed him again, and he was able to meet up with us for about a half hour before his practice, but literally, we followed him as he rushed from his room to go get his instrument and then make it down to the parade field so we didn't actually get to socialize. We were able to sit and watch his practice (as were most sport/club parents we talked to that afternoon), and it was fun to see, but again, still not time with him.

    He was told then that he would be able to hang out with us for the evening so we followed him back to his room where he was NOW told to get ready for a Knowledge Bowl. We were invited to attend; many parents from other squadrons we talked to were not allowed to go to theirs. But still again, this was a fun way to see some of his life, but still not actually get to talk to him. After the K-bowl (around 7:45 by this time), he asked if we could go to A-hall with us and received permission but was told he had to put on service dress. Only to get to A-hall and be one of maybe 3 people total in the dress uniform (and I think the others were on guard duty there!). Funny though because as we walked through the darkness in the dress uniform, I think all his classmates couldn't see his boards (he's 6'4) and assumed he must be an upperclassman so he was greeted by around 20 people on the way! We spent around 1.5 hours with him eating and talking at A-hall, but we were exhausted (late flight into Denver and didn't get to COS until around 1:30am the night before) and he had homework so we left him by 10 or so.

    So my point is, if you have the flexibility to be there Thursday, you may get to spend more time with your cadet. Especially if you can't make it out for A Day, this may be important to you to have every minute you can. I wish we'd been nearby because it sounds like we could have had a couple hours with him between lunch and his late afternoon class. But keep in mind that it all may change. Their particular squad may tell them they're restricted to the squad area or can't see parents or they may have more classes (they'll know this in advance) or duties. For the most part though it seemed like if they were free (between classes or after class or in the evening) that they could meet you either by the chapel, down by the field house, or wherever you coordinated (the field house was the closest point out of the secure area from my son's dorm area).

    Regarding the rest of the weekend, you definitely want to stay nearby on Friday night. Most squads have a mandatory open house (which was just a briefing - not a tour of the squad area as I'd been expecting) which lasted until around 5pm. Our son had to be back by 6:30 in the morning for D&B - most others I think not until at least after 9 or so. But with Friday night traffic and then getting back onto the base, you don't want to be driving to Denver that evening. I would say though that Friday is essential to be there for. Yes, it's "just" classes, but there's also a parade in the morning, lots of activities (and pictures, etc.) at A-hall, and your cadet will want to show off their classes/teachers/friends to you. I felt really bad for the kids in the classes we went to without anyone to introduce or talk to during the class. Most of the classes that day were low key and there was a lot of down time. And you can go to lunch at Mitch's which you won't have many other opportunities to.

    Saturday morning will simply be the squadron tailgate near the stadium and then the game in the afternoon, but it will still be at least late afternoon before you leave. It sounds like such a long visit but there are so many activities that it seemed we really had very little down time with our son. Finally, if you at all can, they won't need to be back until 7pm on Monday and probably will prefer not to be any earlier if possible! So if you can take either a very late flight (not possible going east we found) or fly out the next morning instead, your cadet will appreciate it! If you can't, have them talk to their roomies/friends and see if there's someone they can hang out with that afternoon if you do leave earlier.
     
  5. AHS74

    AHS74 Member

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    Thanks for the info. I booked flights and hotel this morning.
     
  6. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    summary needed!

    From what I read kids can get some time, maybe, thursday, some Friday, and Some Saturday at the mandatory football game. Right so far?

    What about sunday and Monday. What's the status of the kids during those days?

    BTW, thanks so much for the tips! Every hotel I've called already is booked up over the weekend! Any more hotel ideas?
     
  7. AHS74

    AHS74 Member

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    I just booked a room Thurs-Mon via Priceline.com at the Marriott on Tech Center Drive.
     
  8. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Agree - maybe Thursday. Friday you'll be with them all day and their free time will depend on their class schedule, but probably at least some. Saturday you really won't be able to be "with" them at the game, but could probably meet and talk to them some but they'll need to be in the cadet section. You will spend time with them at the tailgate beforehand. They should be totally free from after the football game (4-5pm) on Saturday until they need to be back on Monday at 7. I believe the limit is 150 miles without an SSS form being submitted (so they can't fly home to Florida or similar) but lots of people went to Denver or out to areas like Keystone/Breckenridge to a condo for those days. There are a few optional activities during that time (tour of Jacks Valley, meals in Mitch's) but the odds are your cadet will not want to do any of them and have to be in uniform and on base!

    Have you looked online for hotels? Granted, I'm not looking at top level ones, but I still haven't had any trouble finding many of them that aren't full - maybe more than i want to pay, but not full. I'm looking more in the Comfort Inn/La Quinta range, not the Hiltons, but the prices still even seem slightly reasonable (ie more than normal but not skyrocketing). I just did a quick check and found a lot available through Travelocity - everything from Super 8's to Hilton/Hyatt from around $75 to $150 a night. Keep in mind you don't need to be right near USAFA, and as a 4/c your cadet may prefer not to be so close to many upperclass cadets. It takes at least 10 minutes to even get off base so driving an extra 10 minutes past the closer hotels on Academy Blvd really wasn't a big deal.

    However, last year we went through VRBO and rented a condo. We felt this was definitely the way to do it - to have a private room for our son, a full kitchen to cook what he wanted, and just the more "home" feel vs. a hotel. Since we had his brothers there too, this gave everyone a little bit more space and privacy and he could sleep in as late as he wanted while we were up and doing things. We had a book for a full week but ended up coming Wed-Tue anyway and it didn't work out to any more than renting two hotel rooms which I think would have been necessary with 5 people (3 teens), even paying for the night we didn't use. We rebooked the one we stayed in immediately upon returning for this year. Two good sites for that are vrbo.com and homeaway.com.
     
  9. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Friday night/evening squadron open houses are often mandatory for cadets. Depends on the squadron. Often, State parent's groups will have a dinner or reception on Friday evening, too.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that your cadet will have a sponsor family by the time Parent's Weekend rolls around. Many of them like to meet you, and often they will have a get-together Saturday after the football game. Not all do, but many do. We 've gone to our cadet's sponsor family's house all 4 years for a cook-out after the game. It's a great time to thank them and get to know the people who do so much for your kids.

    If you have a group that might need a little more room than an average hotel room, there are several suite-style hotels in the area that work out really well. We have stayed at the same suite hotel all 4 years and we loved it. We had a suite with two separate bedrooms, two full baths, and a living room and kitchen for less that the cost of two standard hotel rooms. We have been able to bring girlfriends, boyfriends, and others along every year. The one we stayed at also had a great hot breakfast buffet which takes away the cost of one meal every day. If your cadet is a 4-dig, the kitchen also is nice becasue they will: A). Want to eat a lot of food, often, and B). Not want to go out to too many restaurants because they have to wear service dress if they do. PM me if you want specific information on the hotel.

    Sunday we have always done a big family activity. Pikes Peak cog railway, or rafting, or Estes Park. It is a nice day to relax. We did go to Mass at the Chapel his first year, but it is insanely crowded and you better get there very early. It was worth doing once, but we avoided it after his doolie year.

    Monday the cadets have to be back by 1900. Plan on bringing them back with time to spare. They cannot be late. Every year we have seen traffic backed up on Cadet Drive with cadets bailing out of cars and running to the ECP to get back in time.

    Stealth_81
     
  10. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

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    I second the idea for renting a cabin or a condo for Saturday and Sunday nights. We have done a condo on the slopes at Keystone the past 2 years and it was great!
     
  11. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Never been there so excuse the dumb question but is it kind of a 'ghost town' at that time of the year? What's to do in the immediate area during labor day?

    Have a specific keystone condo link?
     
  12. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

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    Yes, we use www.summitcove.com. Excellent company. I would recommend Tenderfoot Lodge #2622. You can ask for late checkout on Monday. You can stop at the City Market in Dillon and pick up groceries and go out to eat and/or cook out on the gas grills.

    We rented a jeep from www.jeeps4rent.com and went up on gorgeous trails across the top of the Continental Divide. Packed a lunch and stopped by a stream to eat.

    We bought a used Jeep for our son, and he will be taking it back to COS when he comes home for a few nights after finals. Thus, we are looking at using his Jeep this year and possibly going camping over Parent's Weekend so we will not be renting the condo at Keystone.
     
  13. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    If your son or daughter is an IC athlete, you might want to plan on being there early afternoon on Thursday. My son didn't have classes in the afternoon, and we were able to see him at lunchtime and were able to hang out with him until practice (most practices are around 3:00 or 3:30 I believe) and we were able to watch him practice. It was just so great to lay eyes on him! The rest of the weekend was just a blur. We did call his sponsors a few weeks out and arranged a night to take them out to dinner. Many sponsors have more than one cadet they sponsor, so their schedules can get booked up!
    Welcome to the rollercoaster ride!
     
  14. laxfan17

    laxfan17 Member

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    I have to agree, flying in Thursday no later than lunch is a must. You can't pass up the opportunity to see your cadet Thursday night, and it is a very early start Friday morning. I have to tell you the whole time leading up to PW, my son repeated again and again "No way, why would I want you to come to my classes? Am I 10 again?" Next thing I know, Thursday night my cell rings and it is my son saying his first class begins at blah, and we have to be at the gate by 7am so he can walk us up the "huge" hill to class. I have to say, at first we were quite shocked and laughed but wouldn't pass up the chance ever. Spent most of the day with him, it was great. Stayed close all weekend. This year we are VRBO a nice place just outside of the Springs. Should be great!! Enjoy your first PW!!! It goes by fast!!
     

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