Preparing for plebe summer, beast, etc.

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by jennyp, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    I posted on the "other" forum and decided to duplicate the thread here as well. What should parents do to prepare for plebe summer? What is good to send in care packages? How many? What NOT to send?

    Obviously, we need to be prepared for the phone call and hearing how darned difficult it is. We parents need to listen and encourage. What helped some of you parents get through the summer?

    Anyway, experienced parents, send in your suggestions to us newbies! I have gotten some good suggestions over on CC. However, I think some of us only utilize one of these forums. So.....let us know!
     
  2. Mom1655

    Mom1655 Member

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    CC?

    Oh my gosh! There's another source of info and advice I didn't know about?! Eek! And I've been trying sooo hard to gather every single piece of info that's out there--

    What/where is 'CC'?
     
  3. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    For parents of candidates going to West Point - do not send any care packages during Beast unless you are asked by your new cadet during a phone call or in a letter. Under no circumstances send food! It will be confiscated by the cadre and your new cadet will be doing push-ups. I was able to send my son boot socks and extra insoles for his low quarters during Beast. He specifically asked me to send these items after he got permission from the cadre. He had to open the box in front of them so they could see it did not have any contraband in it.

    You can send as many cards and letters as you like. The cadre will not be reading these, so no worries there. I tried to send something every other day. There wasn't much news from home so I would include jokes or trivia items he could use to entertain the cadre at meals. After Beast I found out he really appreciated this because he was running out of jokes and the cadre were getting sick of his Civil War trivia questions.

    I also would include cartoons or photos in the letters. I would just print them on regular paper at the end of the letter. Anything I thought would make him smile.

    Because they do not have much time to write I also sent him a form letter a couple of times. All he had to do was fill in the blanks or circle the answers, then mail the letter back to me. These were pretty funny. Link to some examples: http://www.west-point.org/parent/plebe-net/letters.html
     
  4. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    I would read the suggested books, view the movies, and join the forums. USMA parents should join prospect-net. You will then be switched to plebe-net. Read everything; bookmark important information. Set up files to refer to info at later dates. Make a few friends on these forums and plan to meet them at R day. For me, it was important to have a few friends to chat/vent/share with when times were tough.
    You may not hear how "hard" it is; everyone doesn't find it that hard. Some kids just don't complain and some kids whine a lot. Teach your child some financial management now if they are lacking in such skills. Enjoy the time he/she is around...it goes quickly! Find a hotel you like, and make reservations. Air fare is now on sale for travel by Oct...think about booking your flights. Try to relax; next year at this time, you will look back and laugh about how stressed you were!
     
  5. Mom22gals

    Mom22gals Parent

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    WOW its like you read my mind

    I have a daughter who will be at USAFA in 99 days (not that I am counting) and when this whole journey began last year I found the fill in the blank letters but lost them due to a hard drive crash THANK you for posting them!

    Seems like the rules are all different which makes sense.... at USNA the kids can get food, USMA they can get letters cards while it seems at USAFA from what I read the advice is stick to plain envelopes and letters.

    In all of you experiences which Service Academy has the toughest summer training? I have read so much to me it would seem USCGA would be hard bcz it is smaller thus you cannot avoid the attention....but then again I am sure each has its own plusses and minuses...I guess right now am trying to wrap my brain around all of this....


    Thanks for posting the fill in letters these will be a blessing!
     
  6. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    When I wrote to my sons at AFA's BCT last summer (every day, sometimes twice :thumb:), I would write on computer paper onto which I scanned a picture of them with their friends, the dog, family, etc. Sometimes the cadre let them keep it, sometimes they took it from them.

    At the suggestion of a more experienced mom, I would send them surveys, about one a week, which they were to fill out and return (stamped envelope included). Both guys really liked that. There were questions along the lines of:

    Food during BCT is:
    a. not necessary
    b. ok, but not like home
    c. revolting
    d. What food?
    e. _____________________________________________

    They would often put in a one-liner of their own so that I knew they were doing ok.

    But, no packages, and I tried to find cards (which were sometimes confiscated) with white envelopes.

    One of the mother's in our local parents group put all her son's mail into pink scented envelopes when he was at BCT; boy, did he have push ups to do!
     
  7. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    I tried to be good, really I did...but I just couldn't resist a musical card or two, and hoped he opened them in his room. I also included sand when I wrote from the beach, and dog hair to sprinkle on everything so it would feel like home. I promised to write every day...I wanted him to have something uplifting each day; but if you do this, it has to be with the expectation of no letter in return. There is no room for hurt feelings...these are tired (mentally and physically) cadets.
    Others things I sent:

    News clippings of local events/kids he knew
    Jokes
    Copies of comic pages from Calvin and Hobbes
     
  8. Momof2cadets

    Momof2cadets Founding Member

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    I was talking to a 2005 USMA grad at an event for cadet candidates over the weekend. He is now a CPT and has been through a deployment in Iraq. He told me to make sure that I shared with the parents of candidates how important it was to write letters. He said that as far as mail is concerned, he thinks the saddest he ever felt was opening his mail box as a new cadet during beast and finding it empty -- and that includes his time deployed. We wrote daily and my oldest (a 2008 grad) said he didn't always have time to read the letters immediatley when he received them, but he would carry them in his hat or his pocket and during the times he was feeling down just reach and touch them to feel connected to those who cared about him. I suggest you number the letters on the outside of the envelope so that they will know the order if they receive several at once. Another suggestions for inclusion are Far Side cartoons. My guys found the irony in a lot of them particularly fitting! They also liked "inspirational" style posters with a military bent -- there are sites that allow you to print them on regular paper (here is a link to one: http://www.slideshare.net/entr200/military-motivational-posters). The important thing is to let them know you are still there and believe in them.

    Another important resource for parents is their local parent club. There are folks who have "been there, done that" waiting there with information and support. If you do not know if there is a club in your area you can contact Deb Dalton, the West Point Parent Club Coordinator. She is a terrific person and can point you in the right direction. Her contact information can be found on the Parent Club webpage at: http://www.westpoint.edu/Dcomm/wppc.asp. Also of interest to many of you are the calender highlights for the 2009-10 Academic year posted there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2009
  9. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    It is so funny that you mentioned the inspirational style posters. I Googled "motivational jokes" earlier today thinking it might be a good thing to add to some of the letters.
     
  10. Momof2cadets

    Momof2cadets Founding Member

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    That is a great idea -- if you use a little imagination the possibilities are endless! :thumb:
     
  11. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    The link about motivational posters reminded me...I would also send him "demotivators" too because he likes that kind of sarcastic humor. See: http://despair.com/viewall.html#
     
  12. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    Those are great.... very funny.
     
  13. mnolan

    mnolan Parent

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    summer stuff

    In regard to letters and postcards......

    I printed up a bunch of postcards on the computer, using both motivation and "demotivation" (funny but sarcastic) phrases. Did some with pictures of family and/or local places. I preprinted my daughters academy address on the other side AND stamped them.

    I gave them out to people at her graduation party, family and relatives we'd see during the summer, friends still in town, neighbors and acquaintances. Handed out a couple to favorite coaches and teachers. I even carried one or two with me in the car, and if we ran into a friend, former teacher, etc. while at the store or somewhere, I would hand them one and ask them to write something down and drop it in the mail.

    Maybe only 1/3 to 1/2 ever made them back to her, but they were special just because of that. And like others have said, the kids REALLY want something in the mail each day. I'd write letters, but would substitute a postcard when stretched for time myself.

    This way she got letters from someone other than mom and dad.
     
  14. shellz

    shellz Parent

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    What a GREAT idea. I sure hope we get to use these, and all of the other great ideas if son heads off to New London.

    Still waiting, but time is ticking and those big white envelopes have got to be coming soon!!! If he is fortunate enough to get one, we'll be copying your ideas.

    Thanks again. Your daughter is lucky to have such a creative parent. :wink:
     
  15. jennyp

    jennyp Parent

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    Love the preprinted postcard idea. We will be seeing lots of family and friends as older brother gets married June 12. We have two college graduations (older brother and fiance), HS grad for mid-to-be, then wedding. Our USNA bound son insists on NO going-away, graduation type party of any sort. Says there are enough events to go around already! So, I will prepare a bunch of postcards and distribute to family and friends!

    So, next question to you experienced folks: when do we know their address at USNA? I was somehow under the impression that we didn't get an address until I-Day. Which would put a kink in the pre-printed, addressed postcard idea........:confused:
     
  16. mnolan

    mnolan Parent

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    preprinted postcards

    Something I should have mentioned...thanks for reminding me.

    Don't print up the cards till you know their address. At the USCGA we got her address/box number in May. Their room assignment may change, but her box number never does. If letters don't have the box number, she may or may not get them in a timely fashion.

    And it was recommended to us that the postcard be titled "Swab" + their name. At USCGA, she won't be considered a "cadet" till after the summer is over.
     
  17. usna2012mom

    usna2012mom Member

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    We got address the week before I Day last year. Address for Plebe summer is a little different. It goes to company as the detailers pick up the mail. Once AC year starts, you can start using the PO Box number.
     
  18. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    One Mom's thoughts on R-Day and Beast (West Point):

    Whether or not to go is a personal decision. If distance and finances are a factor, and you have to choose between R-Day and A-Day then pick A-day.
    If your New Cadet goes alone - he/she will be taken care of. Last summer a bunch of kids were 'stranded' at various airports because of bad weather. They all eventually arrived in good shape! Going alone, your child will be put up in a hotel and transported with other New Cadets. I think they process them through first before the kids with parents arrive. Academy staff takes pictures throughout the day and will post them and the Oath ceremony on the website for you to see.

    R-Day - if you are close by, then go. It is a really neat experience and you can have a day to just visit the academy. Peruse all the displays in Ike Hall after the "90 second good bye". Go down stairs and you can pick up a card with your New Cadet's mailing address and Beast Company - this is important!!
    If you write a letter you can mail it right away in Ike Hall. I mailed mine in the afternoon.
    Knowing your New Cadets company will help you to find him/her when you go to the Oath Ceremony.
    You can go watch the in-processing or not. My daughter didn't want me to (she had already spent a year in military school). The Catholic chapel had a Mass at Noon so I went. A lot of parents were there and Father Matt was so kind and loving. He is a West Point grad who went to the seminary after 5 years as an infantry officer. I saw him at Oath ceremony in his Army Green's and he has a Ranger tab. hard core.

    Definitely go to the Superintendent's briefing. You will have plenty of time after the brief to get to Trophy Point for the parade and Oath.

    During the summer - Very Important!!! GET A HOBBY!!!
    Do not sit around all summer wondering what your New Cadet is doing now! Go do stuff, have fun and write and tell him about it - haha.

    You will probably live from phone call to phone call. Discuss with your child which number he/she will call if they don't know your cell by heart they will probably call home. If parents are split, they will most likely have to pick one.
    Your phone call may come early or late but it will come.

    Letters - this varies. You may have a New Cadet who writes a lot or one who doesn't write at all. Either is normal. Mine wrote three letters - one was mandatory, one was while on quarters with an infection and one was a list of stuff to bring for A-day. Don't expect a novel - lol.
    I wrote several times a week. She liked getting military jokes - esp those about other services. I found a Military motivator that made fun of another service and the cadre loved it.
    Mail - last summer it was a while before they got their key - about a week or so. They will eventually get your mail - just keep writing.

    Separation Anxiety - this occurs with Parents and New Cadets. For Parents - see my advice about getting a hobby. If you have younger children then do fun stuff with them and enjoy! Don't spend every second waiting and wondering.....Don't write everyday and tell your New Cadet how much you miss them! Act like life is normal and everyone is getting on just fine,

    New Cadets - My daughter had spent a year away already so she wasn't homesick. Hence, she wrote very little -
    My second letter was the second week and briefly told me how she had a nasty infection in her foot (cellulitus) from rucking with infected blisters - she had been to the hospital and they had IV'd her. She ended with if the swelling doesn't go down by tomorrow they will hospitalize me. :eek:
    Then I heard nothing for 10 days until she called. I told her I was glad she was still alive. She had forgotten she had written to me.
    Since she wasn't writing to me, I sent her musical cards. Lots of them! I figured if the cadre didn't like it and dropped her she would tell me. Turns out they loved them - :wink:


    If your New Cadet is kept overnight in the hospital they will call you! They make them call you! If you don't hear from them - "No news is good news"!

    If your New Cadet is homesick then he/she may write a lot. They may sound miserable, lonely and sad. Wait for the phone call and hear the tone of their voice. when they start telling you all the cool stuff they did then you know to disregard the whining in the letters.
    They are like toddlers - remember when they screamed when you dropped them at the babysitters only to play happy when you drove away?
    Allow your kids to vent to you - just don't take it all too seriously. Don't give advice! You can't help them - just listen and write back and tell them you are glad they are having so much fun!

    Troubles - if there is a family emergency - i.e. death of a close family member, a parent is hospitalized etc. Call the TAC - they will get the news to your New Cadet. If bereavement leave is necessary it can be arranged.
    Counseling - this is available and many New Cadets take advantage. Do not be alarmed if your New Cadet write this in a letter. It does not mean he/she is on the way out! Counselors and Chaplains are available for the asking.
    (apologies for the long winded post!)
     
  19. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    ^^^ GET A HOBBY!

    Great advice :thumb:
     
  20. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    I second (third?) the advice to "Get a hobby!"

    A friend told me that for a year before the last of her six (!) kids left for college, she build a file full of "Things I've been meaning to do." Besides projects and hobbies, she saved articles on weekend getaways, local day trips, etc.

    Not only did her idea get me through NAPS summer, it also distracted me between son's acceptance and departure. (It was tempting to just stare @ him -- mothers can be so creepy.) He's a 3/c @ USNA now and I still haven't done everything in my file. I'll probably make a dent in it this summer, as I'm afraid he won't be home much.
     

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