R-day Advice for Parents

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by bossf51, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    1. Arrive early, at least a half-hour before your assigned time...parking and other logistics are tight on r-day.

    2. If you can, get your swab to eat a good breakfast that morning, without overdoing it. It is a long and stressful day so a good meal is important.

    3. When you get to the check in line, back off as much as possible and let your swab take over. I've seen parents carrying paperwork and hovering around many times.

    4. Once you drop him/her off a the line, proceed to the parent events which are scheduled. You will learn a lot and get a lot of assurance from the talks and interacting with "veteran" parents.

    5. Don't try to follow your swab's company around during the course of the day. Some parents try to track down junior and it proves embarassing for all concerned.

    6. Wear comfortable shoes...you'll be walking all day...bring an umbrella as it has been very rainy in Connecticut this year. Bring yourself a water bottle...and if Granny is along for the fun build in some rest stops along the way...you'd be surprised how hilly the campus is if you haven't been there already.

    7. Have a light snack available for the time when you say your good-byes. Your swab will likely be starved and appreciate it. Don't worry about water for them as they will have a water bottle with them at all times.

    8. Don't be the parent who tries to rush the field before it's appropriate.

    9. Look for the company assembly area where you can meet up with your swab. Wear some distinctive clothing so they might be able to spot you quickly. Don't try to spot your swab as they all look alike by the end of the day.

    10. If at all possible don't cry in front of your kid...it makes it tougher on them. Save the tears for when they march under the arches.

    11. If you see a kid alone, "adopt" them as not all parents come on R-day. Nothing worse than having nobody to greet you during the good-byes. I still keep in touch with a young lady who I "adopted" that day...I said to her, "I'll be your dad for today." She gave me a big hug and I think really appreciated it.

    12. Take plenty of pictures, including of kids other than your own. Those parents will appreciate it. If you meet a new cadet, write down their name so you can post to the parents list that you saw their swab and they're doing fine.

    These are off the top of my head and in no particular order. I'll post more as I think of them.

    :thumb:
     
  2. zfam

    zfam Member

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    Good stuff, all true, thanks for posting.
    #10 is going to be extremely hard for this mom..(sniff)..but I'll try.:frown:
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    If I may add onto a couple of these, from personal experience.


    On #2, while making sure it is a good, complete meal, also make sure his/her stomach can take it. I remember being VERY nervous that morning, but I think we ate at the IHOP in Groton. I don't remember finishing much of the breakfast, but at least it was an option. With the understanding that your child may be a little nerous, make sure he/she gets something to eat that won't be too hard on them. I love cheese, but I don't think a huge cheese omlete would have been a good idea that morning. The cadre don't appreciate the swab who constantly asks to hit the head....ESPECIALLY that first day.


    On #9, remember that while your swab can see you because of your distinctive clothing, so can his/her cadre. Don't wear some giant Mickey Mouse hat while carrying three dozen balloons. Sure your son or daughter might find you, but I don't doubt that would leave an impression on the cadets who will be training your son/daughter for the next three weeks.


    As a 3/c, I for some reason was at CGA when it was R-day. I drove parents around in a golf cart. I distinctly remember picking up a mother of a swab who was drinking water from a jar. She said she had just scooped the water from a creek. She asked if I wanted any...no thanks. She then began to pick my brain, trying to get me to say that cadre would abuse her son, that hazing went on, and that it was going to be bad for him. I had to repeatedly talked to her about how hazing was not allowed, and how the safety and wellbeing of the swabs were paramount to the Swab Summer training program. I only say this to remind parents that they are making an impression on their children's future shipmates, that the cadre are there to train and have the wellbeing of their children in mind, and that while difficult, has a training program and schedule to govern how Swab Summer is carried out.
     
  4. zachogden

    zachogden Member

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    I'll have to show this to my parents... thanks again Boss!
     
  5. momofacgcadet

    momofacgcadet Member

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    zfam, I can appreciate the emotion. I remember that day well and that few minutes we had to say goodbye. I think what helped me was my son saying, "I can tell already that I'm going to be fine mom, I'm in the zone. It helps having a bald head 'cause I let everything just slide off with my sweat." Whatever that means. That made me smile and I forgot all about my impending tears. Hard to believe that my own cadet is a new 2/c and a summer cadre. If it is any comfort, after talking with him a few times through the spring and early summer, the cadre have been well trained to be firm and fair this summer (and every summer) with your swabs. My only little piece of R-day advice is that your kid is going to want to run to get lined up before they absolutely have to, but let them go, even if it is 30 seconds or a minute before they "have to." You don't want the cadre yelling at them, "you're wasting my time now." I felt bad for those kids and it would have been a bad last minute feeling for the parents who struggled to say goodbye and then made their swab late for running into line. When he/she says, "I gotta go," give them a quick hug and a quick I love you, and walk away, and let them run away. It's one of the best things you can do for them that day.

    Many of us are volunteers for the AIM program (I'm in week 2), so although we are more a support for the cadre with transportation and other things, we will give a little smile now and again to them for encouragement...but don't tell the AIM cadre!
     
  6. zfam

    zfam Member

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    thanks to all!

    It's crunch time here, and I probably won't be able to post again for awhile, so wanted to say a few quick words... (we leave Sunday for New London, CT)
    *Thanks* to all for your welcome, kind words, tips, advice and just the service you provide here. Very, very helpful and a great resource. I said before, I only wish I knew about this site a year ago. We still have a long way to go, but it's comforting knowing there's a place to come where others understand.

    Our son is very fortunate to be a selectee for the CGA. As I mentioned previously, we come from a long line of military service and tradition in our family, and we couldn't be more proud that he is now carrying the torch.
    Good luck to all who embark on this journey, and to the others who are just starting the adventure, all the best to you.

    I think the military family, no matter your branch of service, is the greatest family in the world to be a part of...

    Semper Paratus!
     
  7. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    Congrats and good luck to you! Having been in your shoes just three short years ago, I know this is a tough time but also one of great pride.

    Post your thoughts on R-day when you get back. In the meantime I will be posting some Swab Summer survival tips-for Parents! :eek:
     
  8. zfam

    zfam Member

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    R-Day Debrief

    I did want to share a few thoughts and my opinions on R-Day. I'll try and keep it brief...(sorry this is so long!)

    We (husband,I & son) flew into PVD Sunday afternoon. Hot and humid! Did the dorm tour and buffet dinner Sunday evening. It was nice, but stifling hot. I just had the feeling of being corraled. The dorms were very clean, but so warm. My heart goes out to all the cadre for enduring it. We missed the dessert reception later that evening, too bad, that's a great photo opportunity, as the swabs get to meet others from their company and take pics before R-day.

    R-Day arrives! How many times did hubby and I look at each other and say "I thought this day would never get here!" Off to the CG Academy. All of us a little quiet and nervous. We were fortunate as son's company, Hotel, is the last to be called. Off he goes.
    The day is packed with activities, events, lunches, and lots of walking. It's very nice and informative. Kudos to the CG and Parent's Association for everything they do. IMO, without elaborating too much, I'll say the concept of making R-Day a family day is nice in thought, and panders to the helicopter-parent generation, but sometimes a simple goodbye works, too. Hubby and I are old-school, we both served in the military, and back in our day we were dropped off with a hug, handshake and good luck.

    Ok,later in the afternoon, off to the Parade field to see the new swabs come in. Excellent ceremony. Hats off to the CG, seeing the colors and hearing the "Star-Spangled Banner" always tears me up. Great job.
    We met up with son and said our final goodbyes. They give you ample time. In fact, he kept looking at his watch and finally said goodbye to us with minutes to spare. He wanted to get back. That was a good sign. At that moment we were never more proud of him, and his decision to come here. I had a feeling then that he would be okay.

    Misc tidbits to share,
    Best line of the day: Move with a purpose!! Yelled by cadre, I love this!
    Best marketing campaign: USAA hands out free cloth tote bags to parents, (which say, Proud Parent of CG Academy Cadet) very, very nice and perfect to stuff with junk all day! Kudos!
    Small world dept: Standing in line for buffet lunch and husband meets another USAFA grad, finds out they know a lot of the same people and the grad's best friend was hubby's first flt commander in the Air Force.
    Best food: Chow in Academy dining hall Sunday evening, if that's the usual fare the cadets are eating well. Second, was the Parent's Assoc. luncheon.
    Best speaker at presentation: The Academy psychologist? Dr for mental health. Very funny! Kudos to the Rear Admiral, too. Excellent speech.
    Tearjerker scene: When we were sitting in Leamy and they finally called Hotel company. I remember standing up to hug my son and thinking, "well, this is it. Once he goes thru those double doors, he'll never be the same..."
    It was the only time all day both my husband and I had tears in our eyes.

    It was a good day. Long, tiring, but nothing compared to what the new swabs have to go thru. Again, my heart goes out to all of them as they survive swab summer. Great kids from good families. We met so many wonderful people all day, it's so good to be a part of the CG family. Thanks for letting me share.
     
  9. zfam

    zfam Member

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    R-Day debrief...PS

    Ok, few more things real quick, then I'll keep quiet. :wink:

    Best advice: Bring only what's on the list. Follow the directions in the Cadet handbook. THIS is SO true. Parents & future swabs, there's a reason why they give you a packing list. It does make things easier, follow it and you'll be ok. Second best advice: Pack your stuff in a backpack. Everything fits and much easier for your swab to get around in.

    Hottest commodity: Water and CG Academy car stickers. One parent's association (I think it was New York) had coolers with water bottles set up in various places, you're on the honor system and put money in a provided sealed bottle. Good idea! The CG car stickers sold out quickly at the exchange. Everyone wants one.

    Best award for collective gasp: At swearing-in ceremony class photo when the swabs are asked to remove their caps and everyone sees their bald heads for the first time.

    Don't Do it Award: A parent in the afternoon told me there was sheet passed out that morning that had each company's R-Day schedule so you could "shadow" your swab all day, if you wanted I guess. I never
    saw the sheet and didn't do this. If there's anyone out there that could tell me why they think this is a good idea, let me know.

    Best Mom moment: Coming home and going in my son's room for the first time. Quiet and clean. Yup, he's really gone. :smile:
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Excellent posts!

    Welcome to the family!
    :thumb:
     
  11. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    Great job z! Very astute observations. I know the "final goodbye" is tough but guess how many people would rebel if that was not offered! I still have the picture of me and my son from that afternoon as well as a picture of him with his extended family which attended about seven or eight strong. Anyway, hang in there this summer! Being from a military background, you probably have a slight edge there. Remember all don't expect too much mail from your swab. But keep those cards and letters coming their way!:biggrin:
     
  12. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    By the way, yes, the food stays good...my son loves the CGA food and consumes it in great quantities! :eek:
     
  13. zfam

    zfam Member

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    First week done

    thanks LITS, Boss, it's great to be a part of the CG family...

    We did get our first letter this weekend. He sounded well, just said it was "intense" and mentioned missing us more than a few times. He said to say hi to [family dog] and his sisters, and that he missed them, too. Missing his sisters? It's worse than I thought. But my husband was quick to point out he did mention the dog first.
    He said it's tough "keeping his eyes in the boat" and attempting to greet cadre in the halls and getting their rank and gender correct. Getting it wrong is a mistake "you DO NOT want to make" he quoted, "especially the gender." Ouch. I don't even want to think about what happened...
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sometimes it feels like you just can't win.

    To greet the proper way, it helps to see who you're greeting...to do this you need to look at them (and take your eyes out of the boat). Of course, having been a cadre, I can say it's VERY easy to tell when their eyes are out of the boat (and having been a swab, I can say that I thought I could move my eyes faster than cadre could see them...not the case).

    So either your eyes are out of the boat or you're mis-greeting people.

    Zfam, make sure you keep those letters, they may eventually look like a roller coaster ride of emotions, but it will be nice for your son to look back at them when the emotions aren't so fresh in his mind.

    Keep it up! I'll be in the New London area this weekend, and I'll swing by the Academy (to see a kid who is a AIM who went to my high school, his parents couldn't make it up).

    The summer is early! :biggrin: :thumb:
     
  15. zfam

    zfam Member

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    20+ yrs of being an Air Force family, and our biggest adjustment now is learning the CG lingo and terms. Up to now everything in the house has been jets and wild, blue yonder...now it's boats and deep, blue sea:smile: But we couldn't be more proud of him, or more excited about this new venture in our military family.

    When you return please, please pass along any info/news you can, we're so glad to hear any news from the Academy. Thanks, and have a good, safe trip!
     

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