So here we are 3years and 10 ½ months after putting a kid, who grew up in a town of 2500 and a county with not a single stoplight, on a plane to travel 2600 miles to a place he had never been. We’ve all read about the roller coaster ride that is life at Kings Point. With only licensing exams in the way of graduation (oh, that little thing) we are just about to head on out of the amusement park. We thought a little reflection may help someone heading into INDOC or considering the Academy, especially if you will be one of those Mids who won’t be able to come home, except for trimester breaks or Christmas. This will include the good, the bad and the ugly (not necessarily in that order). This is also written from the perspective of non-helicopter parents. We have been very much of the belief that someone that is qualified enough to have been accepted to the Academy, must learn to deal with the adult world on their own. You don’t make a better officer by continuing to blow their nose and wipe their … . Our perspective is from listening to our favorite mid and his classmates and reading what is available on line. The views expressed herein are those of parents and not necessarily the views of a midshipman. We have only been to the Academy once, on Parents’ Day Weekend 2006. With all those disclosures out of the way, here it is. The Academy appears, to use a nautical term, to be adrift. There appears to be a present lack of leadership in both the academic and regimental side of life. The problem appeared to rear itself upon the appointment of the last superintendent. (who even thinks to appoint a teetotaler to lead a bunch of sailors?) It was our understanding the last guy went to his own Homecoming at that other school in Annapolis rather than attend Homecoming at KP. Also he didn’t even bother to learn the Academy’s alma mater by the end of INDOC. Now that’s what I call leadership. Okay, okay that’s all in the past and the present trials and tribulations should not be a negative reflection on the acting superintendent. But MARAD definitely needs to step up to the plate and produce a Superintendent that takes charge and moves the Academy forward. We all can read the Blue Ribbon Panel review to see what needs to be done to the physical plant. All that’s lacking is stable leadership. That also goes for the Regimental lifestyle. This is not a post to discuss the benefits or distractions of the Regiment. What is needed is a clarification of what the Regiment will be to the Academy. Again leadership is sorely needed. Regarding the Academic side of life, like all institutions of any size it needs to sweep out some dead wood. One would expect that a federal service academy should expect and demand the best from its faculty and staff. This is not an indictment of all, as there are some very dedicated instructors that have done well with our children’s education. However the malaise and “give me my paycheck for just showing up” attitude of some, make the rest look bad. The Academy is also deficient in image, as well as content. If the Academy wants to shed its position as the red-headed bastard step-child of the service academies it needs a public relations make-over. Let’s look at a few simple things that can be done: 1. Take the time to freshen up the Academy website. It is a very poor reflection that the “News” story stays the same for, not weeks, but months on end. When was the last time there were fresh pictures on the site. The same guys have been folding the flag for over 4 years. The last time the “Midshipmen Life” stories were changed was when the Class of 2010 was awaiting Recognition. Shameful. 2. Get a new recruiting video. It’s well done, but it’s old. 3. Start a recruiting drive for the Best and the Brightest from around the country. Let high school juniors know about the Academy. Quit saying it’s the Best Kept Secret of service academies. Be a beacon, not a ping on the sonar. Kings Point has some of the most dedicated alumni I have witnessed from any four year institution of higher learning. Capitalize on that asset. Okay, okay enough of the bad and the ugly. The truth of the matter is we couldn’t be more proud of our favorite mid and all that he has accomplished in 4 years. The truth of the matter is that we couldn’t think of another 4 year college/university/ service academy that would have been the great ride (roller coaster analogy) that Kings Point has been. Th truth of the matter is that the experiences from KP sculpted a great young man from boy in 4 years. Sure, it’s tough to send the kid away and not see him for months on end. At one point he hadn’t been home for 10 months. But oh, how he grew and how he learned. Sea Year is just a great experience, even when things are not so great at the moment. At 20 he got himself ½ way around the world by himself to meet a ship in the Philipines. At 21 he had a chance to be at the con going through the Straits of Hormuz. Now this is a kid who probably still can’t parallel park a small SUV and he’s at the con in one of the busiest shipping channels in the world? The stories he has, well actually I don’t want to know all the stories he has and his mother should know even less about his sailor’s life. He has been all over the eastern seaboard, getting to visit Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Baltimore, Charleston, Florida and points in between. He has had the opportunity to be educated in classes of 25+/- and not in giant lecture halls of 300-400 students. He has had the opportunity to learn his trade (or at least a small part of it) before he graduates unlike the usual college experience. Not a shabby experience and not one enjoyed by many of his high school classmates that went to State U. Of the few other mids we have met, that are his chums, well they are always welcome around our fire. Maybe that has been the greatest experience and blessing of all, the friends he has made and the mates he can count on. Godspeed to them all, wherever they go. So yeah, if you’re thinking about going to Kings Point, go, but go all in – just get ready for the Ride.