Plebe Summer tips, tricks and other thoughts?

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by smac, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. smac

    smac Proud Parent

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    I have had a chance to read through a number of the posts from last year describing helpful tips on what to send your plebe during plebe summer. There really seem to be some great ideas in those posts. I am wondering, however, whether in looking back the parents from the class of 2014 have anything to add – anything they found particularly helpful (or really not helpful).

    Like many of the parents of the class of 2015, my wife and I are convinced that our DD will thrive at Navy, but, at the same time, we are anxious to do what we can to support her efforts. As a result, we are searching for ways to help, without interfering. . . . :rolleyes:

    Man this letting-go business is tough!! :eek: You would think we would have it wired down after her two older brothers went off to college. . . .
     
  2. PositiveThinking

    PositiveThinking Member

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    Your daughter is going to do great! :thumb:

    But for parents it might be another story! LOL :redface: Here are some tips for you (Dad and Mom!) to "survive" Plebe Summer:

    1. Join the USNA Parents email List Serv! I cannot say enough about how wonderful the 3 ladies who moderate this list serv are - especially during Plebe Summer. I think between them they have seen it all! Their words of wisdom and comfort were invaluable, and the many experienced parents who participate are a wonderful resource every day. Here's the link:
    https://www.usna.com/SSLPage.aspx?pid=415
    Look in the box "Plebe Corner" for the link to sign up for the List Serv.

    2. If you haven't joined Facebook - now is the time! The USNA Facebook page posts great pictures all the time. Also click on their "discussion" page because many parents start topics for each of the companies during Plebe Summer. One mom from our plebe's company started a private group so we could all join and compare notes without the upperclass being able to see what we were saying! :shake: We met up at PPW and still talk all the time with each other - a wonderful support system!

    3. A couple of moms who live near the Yard take pictures during Plebe Summer and post on Dropshots - they are amazing! Just click on the links and hunt for your "Waldo" until you're crosseyed!
    http://www.dropshots.com/nushic#
    http://www.dropshots.com/USNA2010and07

    4. Lots of pros and cons already discussed here about Thorntons (the people who take pics on the Yard during Plebe Summer). We paid the sign-up fee just to have another spot to look for possible "Waldo sightings", ended up just buying a couple pics, but it was good entertainment. I also loved the daily schedule, even though it was a day after the fact.

    Hopefully many more parents will chime in with their thoughts! You will survive - and so will your Plebe!!! :thumb:
     
  3. lovethenavy

    lovethenavy Member

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    I think that these things have been brought up on other threads, but here is my two cents worth concerning things we mailed and the feedback we now have from our son. Now, granted, our son does not like a lot of fanfare, but during Plebe summer, the one thing you do NOT want to do is to draw unwanted attention to your Plebe.

    1. We had everyone who attended his graduation party write a postcard to him. We mailed several a week and he really looked forward to these. Encourage friends and family to send greetings. Sometimes you do have to go out of your way to ask someone to send a card. I did make up some printed off "letters home" that he could simply check boxes or write short answers to. We addressed the envelopes and put a stamp on them and then all he had to do was fill them out and return them. I found these online. I then started making my own. I had fun things like: Today the most exciting thing I did was _______. Check one of the answers below: I look forward to seeing my parents for PPW because:
    _they have my money __I forgot what they look like __They can see how I square my corners ____all of the above.
    My son loved these letters and I got them back in pretty good time. The more outrageous I made the answers, the more he felt free to add. What a hoot! :yllol:
    2. Do not put "cute" stickers on envelopes or packages. I did not send "musical" or "talking" cards to my Plebe during the summer, but I know others who did. You know your DS or DD. My son is still mortified if I send this kind of card to him and told me he won't open it until he is alone in his room.
    3. Send them what they ask for in their care packages, not what you think they need. The Academy apparently loads them up with daily things like Tylenol, personal care items, etc. So, when I sent this, it just took up more space. However, things he asked for were blister pads, stain sticks, Gatorade individual drink packets, high energy bars, and peanut butter snacks. The only candy we sent him were Starbursts. The consensus seems to be that they don't want them to have a lot of candy. So, I saved the candy for after Plebe summer. Home baked goodies are always in high demand and get shared and shared.....!
    4. This is only for AFTER Plebe summer!! I now only send his care packages to the Naval Academy Express Office. They have a different address and I have better success with this than his PO box. Several packages I sent took over a month to arrive when I went that route, versus Fed Ex which takes about 3 days. During Plebe summer you have to send everything to their Plebe summer address which has their company etc. Later on, in the Academic Year, I started using the express office for packages only.`
    5. When they have their 3 phone calls during Plebe summer, have a notebook by the phone. Believe me, you will drop everything to wait for this call. Let them talk. Resist the urge to talk for them and instead, once my son started talking, I started writing. It was amazing what the relatives wanted to know once I hung up. This way I could go back and my husband and I had an idea of what all he had actually said versus what we thought we had heard.
    6. And, I have written this before, but always be positive no matter what. They will need you to be strong for them and will try lots of ways to get you to buy into their distress, pain, homesickness, and doubt. Just keep saying, get through this summer. Then when they do, tell them, get through first semester. Then when they do, tell them to just get through second semester. By then, usually they are at a good place and looking forward to their summer assignments and Plebe year is a thing of the past! :smile:
     
  4. smac

    smac Proud Parent

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    Thanks!

    Thanks for your help - these are all great ideas!
     
  5. usnamomx3

    usnamomx3 Member

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    I carried addressed postcards to our plebes in my purse, some already stamped, to hand out when people in town would ask me - at the ball games, church, the grocery etc - about how he was doing. I asked them to just jot down a few sentences of encouragement to him. He was so surprised to recieve thoughts from people he really didn't know well but was touched to see so many in our small town supported him.

    I hear more stories about mids keeping every letter they recieve during their plebe summer. This is why I think the communication is so important from home. It means so much to them. There are of course, plebes w/no one to write them for whatever reason or send care packages but the chaplains do a wonderful job at making sure everyone gets something during the summer.

    USNA has been doing this for years and while it is easy for me to say as my youngest son finishes his plebe year, don't worry. They have this down to a science and the changes we have seen in our three boys was amazing after only a few short weeks in Annapolis! (I remember thinking when we saw our oldest boys' room the first time in Bancroft, "I wish I could have sent him to the Academy when he was about 10!):biggrin:

    I second the suggestion of the parents list. It is a valuable resource of knowledge from those who have walked the path before. There are parents who have kids who have graduated in the class of 01 to present, parents of napsters and parents who have had mids separate from USNA for any number of reasons who are all happy to help and guide you through the four years by the bay. There are parents there who have had all the experiences any parent of a mid can have and are willing to share their support and knowlege at any time.
     
  6. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Let me put this as eloquently and succinctly as possible: Be supportive. Don't hover.

    You will always be your DD's parents but, come I-Day, she will be an adult and a member of the US Navy. The USN will take good care of her.

    I was a female in one of the early classes and my parents (now gone) were both so proud and so terrified. Now that I look back on it in hindsight, I realize that my father especially (a WWII Marine) was an incredible source of strength. He never coddled me but he wrote me (snail mail was all we had in those days) EVERY SINGLE DAY. I wish I'd saved all of his letters. When I had highs, he rejoiced with me. When I complained, he set me straight. His steadiness was, I now realize, one of the things that kept me there.

    And I'll never forget what my mother said when people said, "She's at the Naval Academy; you must be very proud." Her response: "I've always been proud of her." And that made me know that, if I had decided to quit, my parents would have been there for me and loved me just as much. And, oddly, it gave me the strength to go on.
     
  7. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    Unbelievably touching, 1985. Thank you for sharing that.
     
  8. PositiveThinking

    PositiveThinking Member

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    So true. Thanks USNA1985!
     
  9. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    I agree with LovetheNavy...make sure you find out from your Plebe what she can/cannot have. For example, I read on here that many kids loved the individual drink mixes, so I went out an bought a bunch, planning to send a dozen or so each week...then DS told me he wasn't allowed to use them in his company. Each company is different. And, your kid might surprise you...my son asked for more Febreeze, of all things! Of course, for the first care packages you have to go with what you read here and elsewhere, but your daughter will tell you what she needs/wants sometime during the first week or two. It might help if you write one of the "Fill in the Blank/Check the Box" letters and make one of the questions: "What do you want in your next care package?"

    I know I wrote this down recently, but I had a letter-writing party with son's friends. This was just as much for the friends (and me) as it was for my son. He got the letters, but we got a chance to be together, (I missed having those kids hanging out around my house like they did when my boy was still at home:frown:) to talk about what DS was doing in training and to share memories.

    As many have said, don't get too alarmed when she gets negative. It is tough and struggle is part of the process. Stay positive and encouraging! There were times when I had to literally bite my tongue and when saying, "You can do this!" was like speaking a foreign language, but he got through each rough spot...and so did his parents! :rolleyes: We are having a blessed lull right now....but we are prepared to batten down the hatches (the ones that control our parental desire to say or do too much) again if it becomes necessary!

    Congrats to you and your daughter!!
     
  10. MIHOSER

    MIHOSER Member

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    I said this before in another thread, but...

    I printed 4X6 photos in the middle of a regular 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of white paper and then wrote my letter around the paper. My son enjoyed the weekly "photo grams" as well as the letter.

    Be forewarned - we got 1 letter and 2 postcards over Plebe Summer. They are just so busy!
     
  11. candidsmom

    candidsmom Member

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    My DS actually liked receiving pranks. A card with the music "I Will Survive" which he opened and then reported to a detailer that he thought he had contraband. The detailer, barely keeping a straight face, gave the card back. Since the care packs are opened in front of everyone, we sent an Axe Detailer (body scrubber) and his female friends sent cards with lipstick and perfume! Guess it just depends on the kid and the company officers. We also packed lots of baked goods so he had plenty to share with all.

    Making a list of things you would like to ask, or just writing down what they have to relate are good ideas. And be prepared...during our first phone call, a detailer was screaming right in his face as he stood in formation at attention. I could hear in his voice that he could barely keep from laughing (maybe to keep from breaking) as he tried to talk to us. Also, speaker phones are great so Mom, Dad and siblings can listen in without anyone having to repeat the same information.
     
  12. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    I would add to the above great advice, get in touch with your local Naval Academy Parents' Club. I continually have been impressed by the amount of effort the local parents put into supporting one another, with special emphasis on the new parents. Each year they have had a picnic for the incoming plebes with separate briefings for both the inductees and the parents prepping them for I-day and the summer. They also have an event about two weeks before Parents Weekend to prep the new parents for the events of that event. They also have compiled tons of information on what items have been particularly valuable to new midshipmen, where to get it, how to pack it, and how to mail it so that the mid gets it quickly and timely. The club also organizes a trip to the Army-Navy game each year that gets high praise. A sponsor couple is assigned to each new plebe family to help them deal with the events and stresses of Plebe Year. The annual dues is less than $50. I know my parents would have been much more comfortable with their experiences had they had access to such an organization.
     
  13. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    My DD said that the most important thing she received during Plebe Summer and Ac year was "snail mail." Her comment was that, even if she didn't have time to open and read them, simply getting something at mail call was proof positive that someone cared about her and loved her.
     
  14. NewNavyMom

    NewNavyMom Member

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    I second the notebook idea. I kept a notebook on my kitchen counter and would write down things to tell my son. I wanted to remember the funny things that happened throughout the summer so I would have things to tell him when he called. I didn't want there to be any wasted time during the calls. I would jot down questions I had for him so I wouldn't forget anything. My family sat around the table with the speaker phone in the middle during our calls. We set the ringtone to a patriotic song so that when he called we knew it was him. The calls were very exciting!
     
  15. smac

    smac Proud Parent

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    Thank you for all of these suggestions -- we are making a list and trying to incorporate the things we think are going to work for our DD -- and I am all for the idea of sending pranks. . . :shake:

    You know, out of this entire process, I have to say that one of the things I have been really impressed with is the genuine outpouring of support from the parents of plebes that have gone before . . . . so unlike the experience (at least on a marco level) of our DD's older brothers in attending civilian colleges. Thank you! I hope that next year we will be able to offer as much help to a new parent going through this process as we have recevied.
     
  16. osdad

    osdad Member

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    My plebe DD didn't want a lot of fanfare before I-day. She "relented" and we gave her an open house type party where her friends could just drop by and wish her well. While there, mom handed each friend (and those parents who came - they were invited too) 3x5 cards and asked them to jot down words of encouragement or to relay funny remembrances. Mom included a few in each letter she mailed. DD said that she enjoyed them very much.

    Some were typical yearbook stuff but others were precious. One in particular stands out...

    "Wow, the Naval Academy!!! If I had an imaginary friend, that's where he'd be going."

    How could that not bring a smile to the face of even the most worn out plebe?
     
  17. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Oh, absolutely agree with Candidsmom about the baked goods...these were at a high premium and son's company even had a competition as to whose cookies were best. (It was a tie between my daughter and another kid's mom...and everyone really seems to like snickerdoodles! :rolleyes:) We gladly participated as it gave my daughter a way to feel connected (she's the baker in the family), and I knew it was helping my son build that all-important camaraderie.

    SMAC, you will find that SA parents are helpful because we are more like a family. It's a rough and wonderful four years, and we need to be there for each other to cry and to celebrate...together! Welcome, again, to the family!

    :yay:
     
  18. bergmom

    bergmom Member

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    Emotions

    Momofthemagik...so glad to read your words this morning...it helps to know that there will be other parents out there dealing with the same highs and lows! I spend my days going from "bursting with pride" to "crying with a sense of loss". I hope I am not alone in these feelings...there are not a lot of people that understand the emotions of sending your DS or DD to USNA. I am definitely going to need the SA parents family! Now that the PTR arrived and then the CABS, it seems to be going at a faster pace...June 30 is right around the corner...guess I better put on my big girl panties and remember that this was the goal when he was born...prepare him to soar!!!:thumb:
     

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