There are several parents of current or past Cadet's on this board. I have seen questions some several parents with upcoming Cadets. I thought it would be nice to start a thread with pieces of advice to those parents. Below are a few points that come to mind from this past year's experience with my Class of 2020 Cadet. Prior to I Day: Mail is a big thing to Cadets in BCT. I don't care how big and bad or independent your DS/DD thinks they are when it comes to BCT they will want mail. Consider signing up for write2them.org. It is a pay email site but you can subscribe monthly and it allows you to include 10 people on one subscription. Each email is printed daily and delivered to the Cadets. It is much quicker than snail mail. We also did thank you cards for graduation with our DS' address on them. Remember to give the correct label for BCT and then C4C after BCT. This made it easy for family and friends to reach out Cadet. BCT Don't expect much mail from your Cadet during BCT. They are very busy and lucky to get a few chances to write you. Also, mail is crazy and you will likely not receive the letters in the order they were written. Treasure the few letters and enjoy time (and a lot of it) perusing Webguy for photos of your DS/DD. Expect good and bad days from BCT. The best advice I saw was to always be supportive and stress not quitting. I have yet to meet one Cadet who said there wasn't at least one day they thought about leaving. Few leave but most will at least think about it. Survive the day and it will get better is what we stressed on bad days. I also included an inspirational quote and joke on my emails. If you go to A Day get there early. Do not panic when you see dozens of Cadets falling out if the weather is hot. It is expected and the Academy is well prepared for it. You will also read about bringing food for the entire squadron. We fell into that trap and spent $150 on Chick-fil-a and stood in line at 6AM with other parents to pick up our trays only to find out our DS' squad had other plans that included lunch for everyone. The food was enjoyed later by the upperclassman, but was a waste of time and energy. Academic Year Parent's Weekend was a blast. This weekend involves the entire Wing so book rooms early. You can pick up your Cadet on Friday and tour the school. You have to be back early on Saturday for the ball game. The tailgate is great and if the weather cooperates you will see all the activities on exhibit. Sunday they offered tours to Jack's Valley. My DS and his brothers really enjoyed this experience. He got to show them some skills and they got to try out some of the courses. We left afterwards and went a couple of hours away to the mountains. Our DS enjoyed just getting away and slept a lot. Each Cadet is different so I suggest asking your Cadet what they want to do and work around that instead of planning a weekend worth of activities for them. The academics and scheduling demands are tough to say the least. Do not be surprised to hear about your Cadet struggling in some classes. It is normal. Go back to your BCT mindset and give them support. These Cadets are not used to making poor grades and some struggle with the newfound concept of failure. Thanksgiving and Christmas Look to book flights early and really stress to your Cadet to book their travel plans to and from the airport when the reservations open (usually about a month out). Your Cadet will travel in uniform until after Recognition. Trips home are fun, but everyone seems to want time with your DS/DD so be prepared to share time. Dark Days After Christmas break Cadets return after almost 3 weeks of normal life to the dead of winter and really short days at USAFA. This is tough for a lot of Cadets. Be ready to again give support on the bad days. The good news is by mid-February the count down starts to Recognition and the C4Cs see light at the end of the tunnel. Recognition It is a mini BCT on steroids. Your DS/DD may want to talk about it as they get nervous as it nears. We let our DS dictate the conversation around Recognition, but the call on Sunday when he was a full member of the Wing was special. The main thing is prepare yourself for a special time. You will be learning a ton about SA life. There are great support groups like your state parent's club and private Facebook pages for parents. Take advantage of these as it will help you understand the processes. There will also be parents here to support you if needed. Best of luck.