TO: Parents of Cadets

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by 2014JEZZMOM, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    My child will be off to BCT in a matter of months. As confident as she is about her decision to go, I can't help but wonder as a parent how her dreams of academy life will be different from reality, how she will respond, how it will change her, etc.

    She went to two summer seminars and came home very excited about both. She is very interested in leadership, impressed with the honor code and everything SA's are about.

    I'd love to hear from any parents who would like to share how academy life has affected their cadet, any enlightening/humous stories, etc. Thanks so much!
     
  2. another13mom

    another13mom Member

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    Our first phone call home, our son sounded exhausted -- I asked if he was ok -- he said he was happy to be there, but was "getting smoked" because he couldn't figure out how to stop talking with his hands (we're italian)... we're still laughing.

    On the flip side, the fact that you only get a few phone calls home during plebe summer, one weekend a semester for the first year, the holidays (4 days for Thanksgiving, with 10 days at Christmas, 10 days in the Spring) and up to 3 weeks in the summer means a lot less time w/ mom and dad than afforded by a traditional college experience, so we miss him. He, however, is thriving and has evidently come to terms w/ "military bearing" and having his hands cupped.
     
  3. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    another13mom: cute story! Thanks for sharing. Glad he is thriving there! That has to be reassuring to you. My daughter updates me daily on what's going on with her life and activities....sure it going to be queit and lonely when she leaves.
     
  4. greentrees

    greentrees Member

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    First note sent home, one sentence, written 2nd day of BCT -- this place S*cks! Next note to mom a few days later was a little better, but the note to dad (sent separately) had inklings of doubt the academy was the right place for him as he didn't like what he was seeing in the UC. Thought they would exhibit good leadership and he saw lots of inconsistencies and it was very frustrating to him; said he didn't want to be like them. One UC would yell at him for one thing, he'd correct it and at the next meal what he'd just corrected was now wrong. Without instant communication it was hard to tell him the UC were learning how to lead and would mess up too.
    Son was not one who normally relied on others or asked others for help -- he learned he needed to do that with his roommates and flight mates. Wrote he could now make a very neat bed (haha since he never made it at home) and he would make his roommate's bed in exchange for the roommate rolling his socks -- said he didn't like rolling all the socks. That next letter ended with - I'm not going to let this defeat me, I will succeed.
    Lessons he learned -- the UC are learning too; they don't always do the best at leading and you have to adjust. He realized his classmates were feeling the same way he was and they needed to rely on each other, not to think they're the only one screwing up, feeling or being incompetent.
    Going to BCT in the best physical shape you can be in will definitely help you -- it will still be tough physically but not as tough.
     
  5. rkrosnar

    rkrosnar Member

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    Good Luck to your student. I am very glad she wants to do want she wants to do. Young men and women who attend the academies go under tremendous character development. While, it is not for all. It seems like your student really wants this. GOD SPEED

    RGK
     
  6. pedro4

    pedro4 Member

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    Changes

    Your cadet will make some of the strongest friendships of her life, the process almost guarantees it. She will also develop a "different" sense of humor. Since most women at the Academy are on the athletic teams, she will have plenty of people to work out with. The comments on the UC leadership are spot on, but you get new leaders every few months. Some she will like, others she will not. It's good training for life and you can sometimes learn the most from the poor leaders.
     
  7. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    Thank you everyone for your very valuable insight!! Please keep the posts coming!

    pedro4, the friendship factor is going to be especially meaningful and valuable to my future cadet as she now feels frustrated and trapped in a small school of very clique-ish kids.
     
  8. pedro4

    pedro4 Member

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    Your daughter will be making friends who are a lot like her. Driven, motivated, smart, and trouble free. My son had lots of friends in high school, he just couldn't hang with them because so many were drinking, and worse. Now he is at a college that has beer pong tournaments using milk, and has fun partaking in pillow fights and assembling machine guns on Friday nights. There is a book by a female cadet who describes the semi-fictional experiences and thoughts of a woman as she goes through her first summer at West Point. I forget the name (Battle Dress?)but someone on this thread will remember. She depicts two types of female cadets-one character buys in completely and wants to stand out. The other works the system and complains a lot. Might be interesting for you to read....
     
  9. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    "Tough As Nails" by Gail Dwyer, member of the class of 1981, second class to admit females.
    A good book about a female's perspective of West Point.
     
  10. dohdean

    dohdean Member

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    The book is Battle Dress written by Amy Efaw, a West Point graduate who lives in Denver, Colorado. She is a liaison officer for West Point in the Denver area. The book is a good read, particularly for high school girls considering a service academy and their parents. We were very fortunate to meet Amy during our daughter's application, nomination, appointment process and Amy was a big help to our daughter in making her service academy decisions. Our whole family read the book and really enjoyed it.
     
  11. xsurfer

    xsurfer Parent

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    Our son has had his sights set on the AFA since the 7th grade. He refused to even consider any other school. From the first time we heard from him during BCT right up until a couple of nights ago when we talked to him on the phone, the story has been the same... "it sucks!!". lol But no matter what, there is no place he would rather be. And as bad as "it sucks" sometimes, we really think he is enjoying it there and not just trying to endure. In fact, he even made Superintendent's List last semester which was something he was really striving for. And he has told us plenty of stories that have absolutely cracked me up... especially some of the things that go on during meal time. So they seem to have plenty of laughs as well. I'm not really sure how his expectations going in compare to his reality now that he is actually there... he expected it to be tough... but like I said, no matter how bad it can be sometimes, he wouldn't want to be at any other school.

    Good luck to your daughter, 2014Mom... I bet she'll do very well!
     
  12. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Okay, I'm on the parents forum so I think I can get away with this here! (If not, I'll probably find out soon enough!). I'm a West Point grad and when I was there people saying "this place sucks" was normal - no matter how happy you were at any given point or how well things were going - yep, that was the answer. Or "IHTFP", which I'll let you figure out since I know I can't say that here! But it was so common as to be part of an attitude check - some examples (I remembered people saying many of these, but had to do a quick Google search to come up with them all):

    ATTITUDE CHECK: This place sucks!
    Positive attitude check: This place positively sucks!
    Comprehensive attitude check: I can't believe how much this place sucks!
    Conceptual attitude check: You can't conceive how much this place sucks!
    Comparitive attitude check: No other place sucks as much as this place sucks!
    Historical attitude check: No other place has ever sucked as much as this place sucks!
    Predictive attitude check: No other place will ever suck as much as this place sucks!
    Qualitative attitude check: Even if this place were 100% better it would still suck!
    Post-graduate attitude check: Even after I graduate and leave this place it will still suck!
    Retrospective attitude check: Now that I look back at it after all these years, I still believe that place really sucked!
     
  13. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    marciemi....the whole family got a good laugh from that one!!
     
  14. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Thanks - I don't think these days the last one is true any more, but probably would have said it would be back then!

    Really, though, you have a bunch of teens (or a bit older). How many of your kids (especially boys) at home - when you ask them how their day went even now (as high schoolers) say "It was great!" :rolleyes: Think they don't ever want it to be perceived that by some chance they are happy! Put them in a school of 4000 people with the same attitude, and it's pretty easy to convince one another that life sucks, the academy sucks, ad infinitum! (And no mom and dad to keep reminding them how easy their life is compared to the old days!) :wink:
     
  15. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Just adding that I'm evidently not the only one. My husband has been out of town and as I was skimming these posts here tonight, I wondered if he remembered or was exposed to this (he's also a grad). I asked him "Attitude Check" and he immediately popped off with "This place sucks!" :shake: Yup - standard reply!!
     
  16. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    One thing I did which I learned from another mom was to send the kids letters during bct which they could then return (sent SASE too). I asked easy questions:

    My roommate is from ____________ .

    and then mixed it up with lots of fun questions:

    The food in Mitchell Hall:
    a) is ok, but not like home. :)
    b) is ok, and better than home!
    c) is not for human consumption
    d) is from an alien planet, manufactured for aliens
    e) ____________________

    My kids really liked these because I would often throw in a funny thing from home, and they could reply without taking a lot of time unless they wanted to do so.
     
  17. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Here is a link to several fun letters from WP Parents' Net:

    http://www.west-point.org/parent/plebe-net/letters.html

    Very similar to what fencersmother posted above, although for West Point (for those of you not creative enough to come up with them on your own! - like me! :wink: ). I was going to try to do some cutting and pasting and altering them to use for my son for AF this summer.
     
  18. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    2014mom, I hope you don't mind a response from a USNA mom, but I have a daughter there, and I'm guessing that her experiences would be somewhat similar.

    The biggest change I've seen is that my daughter is far more self confident now than when she reported in at USNA. All of Plebe Year contributed to that, but their "Sea Trials" experience was the real culmination. I'm sure WP has some similar experience, but Sea Trials was 16 hours (starting at 0040) of field exercises, from ruck runs, obstacle courses, and fireman's carries to carrying, launching and "assaulting a beach" from a Zodiac boat, to demonstration of shipboard damage control and firefighting (and plenty more). It showed my daughter and her company mates that they are all stronger, by far, than they were when they arrived, and it showed them how much they could accomplish as a team.

    What was different than she expected? She thought she was in good shape when she reported in, but she soon discovered that she hadn't come close to her potential. She ended Plebe Summer (your BCT) in far better shape, and she's stronger now than at the end of BCT.

    My daughter also expected the UC to be great leaders, but just as was posted above, some are, some aren't.

    There are certainly times when every Mid agrees with the "Attitude Check" posted above, but wild horses couldn't drag my daughter away from USNA, from the opportunities she has already had and will continue to have. Most important, she wouldn't trade the friends and hard work of her SA education for any "regular" college. Her words, "I'd be bored at a regular college."
     
  19. 2014JEZZMOM

    2014JEZZMOM Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input. Fencersmom, that is a really cute idea. 2012Mom, one of the reasons my daughter doesnt want to go to a reg. college is she thinks it would be boring...I hope she will be just as happy with her decision to go to a SA as your daughter is!
     

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