USMA R-Day Tips for Parents

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by Tail-Dragon, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Tail-Dragon

    Tail-Dragon 5-Year Member

    Feb 26, 2011
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    As a soon-to-be parent of a Yuk, I was thinking back over everything that I’ve learned and experienced during my son’s plebe-year at USMA and how fast it has flown by. As my Cadet likes to say, the days are long but the weeks are short. There were a number of things I remember thinking to myself and maybe even mentioning to my wife, “I wish I had known that, or I wish someone had mentioned this.” So for all of you Parents of the Class of 2016, here are ten things I wish I had known about R-Day.

    1. The day before R-Day is a good time to visit the West Point Visitor’s Center and Museum just outside Thayer Gate. It’s a great way to take your mind off the impending unknowns, the museum is amazing, and the gift shop at the Visitor’s Center will have T-Shirts and Hand Bags with the names of the Class of 2016 on them.

    2. Say your good-byes the night before R-Day, whatever you need to say, say it before the dawn of R-Day. It’s easier for you and your pre-cadet, not easy, but much easier.

    3. After your 90 second good-bye there will be lots of shopping to do in Eisenhower Hall as all the gift shops and many of the clubs will have booths set up there. Shopping therapy is a very good thing at this moment in your lives.

    4. The prayer service in the Cadet Chapel is truly awe inspiring. You will need inspiration, I highly recommend you attend.

    5. Due to the long distances, travel costs and other family issues there will be many families that can only send one parent to R-Day. Find them and adopt them, no parent should be alone on this day and it’s a really good time to start developing your Plebe-Parent support network.

    6. During the parent’s briefing in Eisenhower (IKE) Hall take pictures (without flash) of the Power-Point slides. That way you will have the information for later reference.

    7. Take sun-screen and a hat. You will be standing in the sun a lot, especially as you wait for the parade.

    8. You are most likely not going to be able to pick out your son or daughter during the parade. They will already have changed so much and they will all look so much alike. Take pictures of them all so later you can spend time trying to find your pre-cadet. It’ll give you something to do as you adjust to the limited communication during Beast.

    9. There will be Army-Navy football tickets on sale that day. If you are thinking of going to the game as a chance to spend time with your soon-to-be plebe, forget it. If you are buying tickets to support the Black Knights, well then, GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY! HOOAH!

    10. You will find yourself wanting answers to questions like, “Can we plan a visit for Labor Day? Or Columbus Day? Or a particular football game weekend? Or a birthday weekend?” The answer is, “IT DEPENDS.” It depends on the Academic Year Company your Cadet will be assigned to, it depends if when the time comes are they in good standing or marching off hours. It depends on a number of events, circumstances and decisions which have not happened yet so no one, not you, your cadet, the Supe or the Dean can give you an answer on R-Day. So learn to accept, “IT DEPENDS,” and be ready to seize the opportunities you get.

    Good Luck, you are in for a ride!
  2. mom3boys

    mom3boys 5-Year Member

    Nov 3, 2007
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    Those slides...will be posted on on the link to the class of 2016 page. Info for new parents can be found all over that page, on the facebook page (west point parents), and the mom's page (west point moms). There is a plethora of info out there for the info just have to search for it.
  3. DadOfSwags

    DadOfSwags Proud USMA2016 Dad

    Feb 25, 2012
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    Thanks for the info, Tail-Dragon. Seems like you focused on the things to really think about, as opposed to the hundred other things we're all worrying about as well!
  4. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad 5-Year Member

    Jan 31, 2010
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    Many good observations in your post. On the Army-Navy game, the experience will vary based on the cadet's situation, and too a certain extent the comm, etc.

    In general:

    All plebes in good standing will attend the game unless they have duties elsewhere (unlikely). At the minimum, they will ride USMA buses down. They do have to sit with the cadets during the game, but our experience was that prior, during, and after cadets were able to drop by and hang out a bit. Not long, but we did get to visit. Ours hung with us for all of halftime.

    Also implied- if not in good standing they may not be able to go at all.

    So that's the minimum. If in good standing, they can apply for a spirit pass. They will have duties during the game, but otherwise can leave and return earlier. This year they had to be there at roughly 7 AM, and was not released until after accountability was taken after the game.

    If they take the spirit pass, they will be responsible for their own travel to & from. No worries, there are busses running from USMA back and forth. Typically they arrive late Friday evening/night, and depart early Sunday AM.

    So if they take the bus, they can hang (and stay) with you Fri night, report to the stadium early Sat. Then are released after the game, can spend the night with you, then back on the bus in Sunday AM.

    There are other options for travel, and upperclassmen can carpool/drive.

    Our learnings were:
    • On the best of days you get some, but not a huge amount of time with your cadet
    • The game was fun, and worth attending on it's own.
    • Attending a home game is possibly more fun, and you'll likely get more time with your cadet, especially if combined with a spirit pass.
    • Find where the bus will drop off/pick up, and plan your stay reasonably close. That's the real time constraint. Getting to/from the stadium is less of an issue.
    • It may be worth planning to stay at the stadium when dropping your cadet off Sat AM. Bring food/snacks for before and after the game. You can't bring them in.
    • Plan on long lines getting out of the stadium and a tired cadet. We did good to find some dinner and then went for a swim at the hotel. (indoor pool)
    • You won't get your tickets until shortly before the A/N game. Don't sweat it, you'll be with other cadet parents.

    Just one family's experience, but seems to be aligned with what other plebe parents experienced. Hope this helps!

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