How do parents prepare before bringing their DS to BCT in June? (class of 2022)


Feb 23, 2018
My DS recently received an appointment to USAFA. This is all new for my wife and I. We need advice on what we need to do to start preparing ourselves and our DS before he goes to BCT in June, such as hotel reservations, airline reservations, etc. I appreciate any and all advice. Thank you.
This is not directed specifically at the OP but here's my $0.02.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't want to know about "everything up front." Just give me the dates I need to book hotels and airlines. Everything else about USAFA (and the other SAs) is an amazing adventure and not knowing everything now is part of it. Finding little USAFA nuggets from other parents, from facebook and from SAF is like a four year treasure hunt. It's like peeling an onion, one layer at a time. Everyone said it was a roller coaster, boy, they weren't kidding. But I think it was more fun not knowing what was around the bend or what was going to happen on that next turn. I understand parents want to be fully prepared, but knowing "everything I have to know" takes a lot of the fun out of the whole experience. Good luck with your appointee. Don't sweat the small stuff, USAFA will take care of them. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, I promise you it will be a wild one.
I agree with skismuggs - savor the experience and enjoy the ride. We got their the night before as my DD wanted to spend every possible minutes with her friends as this was the end of her "summer". The only nugget that I will impart is that your normally, perfectly prepared cadet will be nervous and do some uncharacteristic things. In our case, it was leaving the pair of broken in boots in the hotel despite having them tied to their backpack the night before which meant we missed the final hug rushing back to retrieve them... As much as it seems counter intuitive go through that final checklist before you leave the hotel, as it will be the last time you have the privilege...
Enjoy what time you have with him between now and I-Day. Contact is very limited during BCT and even during the rest of the Doolie year due to the intensity of their schedule. BCT and the first year will change him. Enjoy the journey as a parent knowing that you are now a proud spectator as your DS has the opportunity to soar.
Everyone has a journey at USAFA with parts and pieces that will be similar and at the same time different. We have an applicant and we have also been through this journey with another child...not going to lie...IT IS HARD TO SAY "SEE YOU LATER"...each and every time I have to say it now, it does not get any easier. I have also learned that is is not about me, it is about how happy our LT. is and the most incredible opportunities he has experienced. Say the important things you want to say BEFORE you get to in-processing or you will be at a loss for words...go to the CO parent's picnic, it does help...go to the Wall on the next day, they won't see you, but you will see them and that is what we needed. We are humbled each time we arrive at USAFA as we watch these extraordinary individuals and all they do to represent our nation. Above all enjoy your journey because it is the FASTEST ride you will be on...good luck parents :)
Welcome to the USAFA Family KCUSAFA 2022!
My DS is a current Doolie getting ready for Recognition shortly. Congrats to your family on what will be a fun and amazing year.
For Our family our 1st year has been one of a Great Adventure for both our DS and our family.
I recommend only a few things to you from my perspective as a Dad of a Doolie.

1. Enjoy every minute with your DS from now until he walks away into Doolittle Hall.
2. Go to all activities and events you can. Spend the $, buy the tickets, take the photos! It will be worth it to have this experience! Find a way to be there for these 1st moments.
3. Get involved with State Parents Club. We are from Georgia and love how involved our PC has been.
4. Hotels fill up fast. Love Drury Inn. But renting a home in the area for Parents weekend is a Must! Time away, camp fires, Etc. Try VRBO for listings.
5. FaceTime phone calls are crucial and letters and packages from home really keep them motivated.

Finally, from one Dad to another, Enjoy it ALL.
The whole year has been one of the Proudest times of my life. To watch my DS grow and chase this dream is beyond words. I know you and your wife are as Proud of yours as we are of ours. Treasure every moment.
We took a week and camped our way out. Lot of great memories gained along the way and saw a lot of the country. Enjoyed a couple days during the process both exploring the campus, visiting the local area and going back whenever we get the chance regardless of the timeframe available to show support. Mini vacations are Great [emoji3]
Here’s a few more practical “to do” items.
1. Immunizations: If your DS/DD’s immunizations aren’t up to date, go get them now. Many last year scrambled to find someone with flu vaccines left in May. If I recall, you’ll also need to upload immunization records and carry a hard copy on I-day. (You can search and read through numerous past posts)
2. Dental cleaning: if it’s been a while, get this done in May or June. Who knows when they’ll get a cleaning at USAFA.
3. Vision: my son wears contacts so we made sure to get a new prescription AND a new pair of glasses with a black frame. They can’t wear contacts I day so they will need glasses. DS’s issued glasses broke in Jacks so he was thankful for the backup pair.
4. Buy boots: You will probably hear recommendations to buy boots and break them in. Not being military and having no access to a base store, we bought them online. It took 5 rounds of returns to find some that fit properly and DS really liked. He could not wear the lightweight Nike’s that just about everyone recommends because he was blessed with my extra wide feet. I’m glad we started that shopping process early, but it’s probably not an issue for military families.
5. Order laundry labels. You’ll be instructed to label v-necks and underwear/compression shorts with their ID. After much trial and error, iron labels worked best (just don’t melt the compression shorts with the iron).

Also, If your DS/DD happens to have a good mouth guard, remind them to pack it even though it’s not on the packing list. Mine had a custom made one from sports and took it and was so thankful to have it at Jacks. Take a look at webguy pics on the Assault coarse and you’ll understand. I’m not recommending running to the orthodontist to have one made folks, but do take it IF it’s something you’ve already got.

Finally, enjoy the last few months with your family!!!!!
While we’re on the topic of mouthguards, I reccomend Sisu mouthguards. They are very light and easy to speak and drink water through.
Realize that many things you hear will sound strange. Some of it because it is foreign to you, and some because the people passing on info misunderstand/miscommunicate. My parents heard a lot of scary/worrying things through parents playing the telephone game. DON'T WORRY. USAFA has been doing this for decades. If something sounds off, talk to your kid about it...but realize that might not be for a bit. The schedule is busy during the academic year, and contact is limited during BCT intentionally (basics need to worry about BCT, not what is going on at home). Write your kid during BCT...and humor is always appreciated!
My best advice is to not sweat the small stuff and do the things you and your son want to do not because you read it on a forum or a book. There is no one size fits all approach to any of this. Your son may want to spend a week with you in Colorado and he may want to go it alone.

Also, do not think you need to spend $1000s of dollars on a dozen trips and everything under the sun. I have seen extremes here and on Facebook that make me laugh. Last year during plebe summer, a mom posted she found the greatest gift on amazon and was buying one to have shipped to her kid so it would be there when school started. It was like sharks to blood, there had to be about ten other parents within the hour order one before a prior service Mom chimed in that this "poncho line" was an issued item and they already had one.

Pack what is mandatory on the list. There are some optional items that are handy as well. You will get a ton of advice. They have been doing this a long time and even if they brought nothing, they would survive. In our days we did not even bring a tooth brush.

Make plans to attend A-Day. It is a memorable weekend with your son as he has completed something pretty special. R/I-Day is more about the parents. You drop them off and they are gone before you know it. If you have the means and your son wants you there then do. Same with every other parents weekend, occasion, holiday. There are a few parents that have the means to do everything, but most of us have to prioritize our trips.

Like others have said, write your son even though he may not write back. The level of communication you have with him today is the same you will have with him when he is gone.

Boots are important. I am not sure if USAFA gives a list of approved boots are you can bring anything that meets AR 600-1. I would suggest a good pair of field boots, not the Nikes, for the first summer and then he can get those latter to wear when he is going to class. Boots are different these days but still need to be broken in.

The last thing that I will add is to enjoy the journey. He only gets to be a senior once. Soak it all in and get ready for the next step. There is no reason to watch videos of plebe summer or learn knowledge ahead of time. All of that will come in its due time.
Yes to all of the above!! If I might add one more : have the hard conversations. When our DS left for I-Day, one of his great-grandparents was very ill. We discussed what he wanted as far as notification if she died during basic. He said he only wanted to be contacted if "mom, dad or my brother die", otherwise, he didn't want to know any bad news from home. I'm so glad we knew his wishes because 3 days after I-Day, my father (DS's beloved grandfather) had a massive stroke and we had 48 hours of thinking he would die (while he is still recovering, he did survive the stroke). I remember seeing other families dealing with sudden deaths during basic and not knowing if they should contact their DS/DD. So, have those talks. Your DS/DD is a young adult, I promise they can handle it.
Below is a quote from me on this forum from May of last year. I was worrying myself sick over what to do. Guess what? Everything worked out fine. No, he didn't show up in underwear only, but USAFA takes care of everything. Not only will USAFA take care of your DS, but he will have a new family in his fellow Cadets that will take care of him as well.

"I've been on this forum since December of 2016 and have learned a TON of information. I've tried to "soak up" all the advice on what to do for my DS, from buying boots/don't buy boots, what color underwear, do/don't buy socks, computers, which days to visit, what to bring when you come, do/don't accompany to I day, and the list goes on and on.
I've made the decision to send D/S to Colorado Springs June 28th in nothing but his underwear and see what happens!!"
Congratulations to you and your DS. Welcome to the USAFA family!

I obviously can't speak for your family dynamics (since I don't personally know you) but you might want to consider DS going to I-Day alone. Your DS might be better served by using the travel to USAFA as a transition from life as he knew it to the new journey he is about to embark upon. Say your goodbyes at the airport then travel to A-Day and spend that precious couple of hours with him. What a proud moment it is to see your Basic get his shoulder boards on A-Day! I share this from first-hand experience as this is how our family did it and it worked well for us. I will admit that the airport part was rough (even with the entire family getting gate passes and a delayed flight) but we made it through.

From now until I-Day, spend as much time with DS as possible while doing the physical preparations. Visit with friends and family. Enjoy the local foods that he won't get once he leaves.

P.S. There is no right or wrong with anything you do. Attend functions, special days and visit USAFA as much as your funds permit but if you have to choose, PW should be your number one choice.
When does A-Day take place? Is it actually on the last day of BCT (which would be August 4th for the incoming class of 2022) or some other day around that time?
When does A-Day take place? Is it actually on the last day of BCT (which would be August 4th for the incoming class of 2022) or some other day around that time?

The last day of BCT training is the day they march back from Jacks Valley. They will have a couple of days before A-Day to take care of administrative duties such as getting their computers issued, room assignments, etc. They also have to practice the A-Day parade with the entire Wing (Wing returns August 4th). At the end of the A-Day Parade, as they stand across the parade ground from the rest of the Wing, they will be "absorbed" into the Wing. It will give you chills watching this tradition!
And, just a heads up for the 2022 parents and family concerning the A-Day parade...

Your new cadets will be standing at attention in front of the stands for what seems like forever. Unfortunately, due to temperature, nervousness, and especially "locking of knees" (not relaxing inconspicuously), you will have several drop out, literally. But, don't worry; there are many cadet EMTs and upperclassmen on the prowl looking for the first signs of this and will "rescue" the ones who need a hand.