Advice for 2020

Welcome, Class of 2020 Parents and Families,

For most of us, it is less than one year ago when we either dropped off our Darling Son (DS) or Darling Daughter (DD) at USAFA or at the airport.  This is different than a civilian college experience in that we are limited in the amount of contact we can have with our son or daughter from the moment they enter the Academy.  While other parents can wean themselves away at their own pace, our contact and communication are cut off abruptly.  Similarly, the entrance into college for our Cadets is not gradual; they have to go through the hardest part first.  The “good-bye” is abrupt for us but it’s equally challenging for them, as they launch their college experience with Basic Cadet Training.

In the midst of this unique experience, we have found a community of like-minded parents and a USAFA family who has welcomed us, embraced us, understood us, and kept us going.  We have found strength, camaraderie, and solace in this community.  For this reason, we want to share what we have learned with you, in hope that our perspective may enhance your own experience as a USAFA parent.


Rocio Watkins, Ed.D.

On Behalf of the Class of 2019 Spirit Mission Committee

Advice for 2020 Printable version



From the Class of 2019 and their USAFA Parent Resource Community


Parent support

Swain: You will be amazed at the wonderful group of fellow parents you will meet. They will be your survival network as you all learn together what it means to be the parent of a USFA Basic Cadet and Cadet. Enjoy the ride!!

O’Donnell: regardless of what you know or wish you knew, you can ask anything here….. and i mean ANYTHING, an it will get answered… by many. Some just know that answers, others have been through it. I have only met a few of the families here but through this group, I feel I have an extended family.

Highland: Lean on your class group. No matter how far apart all of you are you feel like you know everyone and are family. Also rely on the team web guy “Where’s Waldo” skills.

Washer: That the goodbye is abrupt and under that tent. And that they are literally moving out. They are now IN their new home, and just VISIT you. Also that the best pict I have is the one of him sleeping the night before I Day. One last time as just yours. Also that the next morning you watch them from that wall, is the opposite of when they handed them to you the first time in the hospital the day they were born. Every minute until June counts. Every minute.

T. Kundrat: Always ask no matter what the question is. We’re all here to help each other no matter what! Good, bad and ugly! We all support each other! Be there to listen to your cadet. Always listen and support. It’s also an emotional ride for you to. Welcome to the USAFA family!

Dyckman: Truly laughing now about how much I cried about underwear!
That being said, here are my tips:
1. Join your local parents group. They are a group of like-minded people local to you who can help you thru most anything.
2. Ask questions on this board and your class board. Someone always has an answer or a resource to find it
3. Book your parents weekend flight NOW
4. Moms, do not plan on wearing makeup. At all. I didn’t wear it from mid June till end of July. If you trust nothing else on what I’m saying, trust this.
5. First letter home is good, second letter home will be scary, third letter home will be better, all letters home stop once they get their phones back at the end of BCT.
6. Your heart will soar when you see your child in his uniform for the first time.
7. Turn to this page, your class page when you are down. More than any other college parent, we get it. Really.
8. It is a crazy, exciting, emotional time. Roll with and revel in it. It’s not always easy but it is incredible.

D. Anderson: Trust the process (someone else wisely said that). Stalk Webguy, it will make you feel better. SWA and USAA. When you look back, the time goes by quickly, you will realize how much you and your child have grown. Good luck!

K. Carter: Yes! Join parent clubs as soon as possible… This is such a big thing, I am still amazed at the people who have utterly no understanding at all about what a service academy is, much less how very different our experience is as compared to sending a DS or DD to a traditional college. Sometimes it is just nice to know someone truly “gets it”. As parents we wanted our son to know that we were totally supportive and we were releasing him to do what he feels called to do. The last thing I wanted was for him to worry about how his Mama would handle it. The parent groups (state clubs and FB) allowed me a venue to know that my feelings were normal, so that I could always present that brave, calm demeanor to my son.

Ramsey: Let Go. Your Cadet is ready for this. No amount of parenting from near or far can soften the process, and in many cases it makes it worse. Also, before they go have them watch this video from General Mark Walsh. I have my new Doolies watch it the night before the report for I-Day, and then again after recognition. It’s great! Gen. Mark Welsh – US Air Force Academy Cadet Speech

G. Crews: Best book – West Point Mom – something like that – gives you great advice on when to be there for them and when to back off – a real balance. If I had let my son completely go and make all his decisions alone, he would have quit basic – “These people are nuts!” He thanks us daily for our involvement with parent clubs and learning how to best parent a cadet. It is not the same as sending one to college.

Dyckman: Run. Watch you tube spirit videos. Watch Gen. Welsh videos. Run more. Do push ups. Do pull ups. If your child was straight A, captain of the team, never sat the bench; he or she needs to know that there is a wake up call in the future. How your son or daughter manages the stress related to that epiphany will make or break him or her during BCT and moving forward. My son was none of those and he watched kids who were fall apart under stress. Leadership is watching how they manage the stress and deal with the situation. Can they take a breath, reassess, and move forward? Or do they get mired in the fact that they failed?

Stephens: and if your cadet is prior enlisted or/and prep school, they will be a few years older that the upper classmen that are ordering them around. There will be many advantages to being prior enlisted but there will also be their own set of challenges. If yours is prior enlisted encourage them to find other prior enlisted cadets, they usually find each other fairly quickly, they stand out, lol. As a parent on the Facebook groups you can share your prior experience and encourage others but be prepared to need this group far more than you ever would have expected.

Watkins: Great advice. The squad mates whom my son looks up to are both prior enlisted. My DS told me they were the “best basics” and they led their teammates even as  Basic Cadets themselves! Their prior experience and older cadet age definitely has many advantages.


Sponsor Families

Galloway: Sign up for a Sponsor Family! We hit the jackpot with DSs!

Pepe: We did not hit the jackpot but DS has done just fine so add that to your list to not stress over if you don’t hit the jackpot or get a sponsor family at all.



Johns: Best advice…. Fly southwest!

Shun: Southwest! All the way! Rent car for parent’s weekend way in advance.


Practical Preparation for BCT:

S. Lubis: At your child’s high school graduation party put out blank note cards and ask friends and family to write a little something to your son or daughter. We mailed one or two everyday during BCT and it was awesome encouragement from all the people close to your child!

Galloway: I gave out stamped and addressed envelopes at HS graduation party…. DS got lots of mail!

G. Leverenz: We did this too and he loved them. We had pre-addressed envelopes guests could take with them to use later as well. I even offered stamps to his high school friends.

Schnall: We did the table at grad party with colored notebook paper, pens and envelopes. We asked friends and family to write positive notes/letters of encouragement   and leave them in a basket on the table. I then mailed one or two each day starting a week  before basic and then every day of basic (along with notes, Bible verses and inspirational quotes from my husband and me) so he had a lot of mail. He really liked that.

Mutti: SUGGESTION: Take only a small duffle-type bag for I-Day – you don’t really need much more than that; t-shirts, undies, socks, toiletries, reading/writing items, tennis shoes. The cadets arriving off the bus that have to carry their backpacks in their left hand, straight-armed, are usually dragging them, along with the other bag they have. They are immediately a target for the cadre… Think minimalist here, and then survival…

Mutti: I’m not sure – “backpack” could be a general reference to a “bag” to hold their personal items. They will receive a camouflaged backpack upon arrival, and a school backpack when classes begin (they get it with their computer items). DS was so grateful he didn’t have anything larger than this – lots of carrying, and in a hurry. DS received and heeded this advice from a USAFA grad.

Galloway: DS took everything in his backpack…don’t stray from the list except for compression shorts.

Lu: Just because other parents are doing X, Y, or Z doesn’t mean you have to or are negligent because you don’t want/can’t. Don’t be a helicopter parent, let your cadet figure out what they need to do on their own even if it’s much faster if you do it for them. A lot of the cadets wonder why their parents are so micro involved and they don’t want help. Be there to listen and support without trying to run their show for them. As much as you’d like them to go on the family vacation with you for the summer or spring break or winter break, they’re going to have fabulous opportunities come up over these times that they should strongly consider taking advantage of: overseas stays, visits to places they’ve never been, activities and experiences that they want to have.


Oh yes, the underwear….

Bafford: Don’t stress about labeling their underwear!! They are in good hands, trust the process. Join the parent group – you learn so much and can go on this amazing journey together!

Pearce: Underwear was the first thing that popped into my head, too!! Note: don’t be the mom who lays out your daughter’s entire trousseau for basic and posts a photo on Facebook!!

Bafford: I ended up free-styling it too, and I never heard about any trouble with them! I was so stressed about them being perfect, thought for sure he’d get beat-downs because of  poorly labeled undies!

B. Brazinski: On labeling the underwear, a thin sharpie works just fine. I ordered the inking stamp which arrived after we left and so now will use it for my daughter’s camp clothes. Really haven’t found a need for it for my cadet since then!



D. CA: – Suggest inexpensive underwear for the girls – they should be white but not a hard rule. Avoid bold prints etc. Keep it non-descript. I suspect some Basic Cadet females will try to wear thong bikini panties, I do not recommend this with the amount of physical activity taking place 12 hours a day. Everything will ride up and it will be very uncomfortable. Hipster panties are the best during BCT and even a few briefs will suffice. I know, GRANNY PANTIES! Sports bras MUST be white as they show through t-shirts, etc. All undergarments will get trashed during BCT and everything will need to be replaced. During BCT and through Recognition, C4C laundry is all washed together. The laundry is not separated. So if a white bra goes in with blue clothing well you can image the outcome. Advise parents to not spend a lot of money on undergarments. BUT Plan accordingly. My DD frequently ran out of undergarments during BCT as the laundry service was slow getting laundry back to Basics. Bring a minimum of 14 pairs of panties, 4-5 sports bras. ALWAYS keep on hand 1-3 pairs of panties and (1) sports bra during BCT. They can rinse out their undergarments in the sink if necessary. Have the girls start practicing putting up their hair NOW. They’re given less than 2 minutes at In-processing to do it in regulation. If they fail, the hair is cut. Practice. Practice.

W. D’Amato: All underwear will be disgusting by the end of basic so don’t spend a lot on it. I know my daughter didn’t take white and it was fine. Send them new for “A” day. Compression shorts are the bomb. Pricy but worth it



J. Thackrah: Start today and for you DS get him 12 pair of white undershorts. Start looking today because they are the hardest things to find in the world. You may find them but it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find completely white shorts, waistband and all. Kids only wear colored shorts today. Good luck.

Mccabe: We had the same problem for our DD!!! Start looking now, finding all white sports bras and such is hard!!!! We went everywhere and found things on line but my DS waited too late to be able to order what she needed, so we went store to store!

S. Highland: Compression shorts are wonderful! My son didn’t even wear the regular underwear…. only compression shorts…omg the underwear will make us laugh forever….


FOR BOTH Male and Female:

C. Demore: In regards to labeling underwear, after many attempts I finally went to Office Depot and had a self-inking stamp made of my DS’s ID. That’s what we used and they are still almost like new. In regards to Airlines, definitely use Southwest and if your grocery store / supermarket offers fuel perks or gas points, buy the Southwest gift cards to earn free fuel and pay for your flight with the cards.

M. Moawad: For BCT: pack ONLY what is on the packing list, but compression briefs/shorts are ok even if not on list, black, navy…doesn’t matter, just not neon colors, Hawaiian prints etc. wink emoticon Subscribe to just for BCT, you won’t need it afterwards. Write to your basic cadet everyday: each letter I wrote included an encouraging/inspiring quote, news from home (no matter how mundane you think it may be), and a joke (they will need jokes! Cadre will ask them to tell jokes). Every Sunday I included a weekly recap of local/US/world news. If you can afford it, go to Acceptance Day!! It was the best 2.5 hours spent with my DS!! Enjoy the ride Parents of 2020! Congratulations and welcome to the family


Elevation Mask

Johns: Don’t buy an elevation mask… If you must let me know. I have one … Used zero times

M. Ooms: – DS used the elevation mask for about a month prior to BCT – he loved it. Got to admit he looked a little strange running around the neighborhood with the mask, shorts and military boots!



Editors Note: Please check your documents that are in your portal for the most up to date information on foot wear.

Thackrah: Do not worry about the boots. They all get issued the same boots. They won’t be allowed to wear any other boots until after basic (everyone has the same thing and therefore no one has an advantage). The boots they get are good boots. I wore them on Parents weekend for the hike up Eagles Peak. Of course my son wore his new Nike Sage Green Boots that weekend and afterwards. Don’t worry about the boots.

Cooper: But if your son has size 14 feet start looking for your Nike boots now! You might get them if you’re lucky by October!#bigfeetproblems

J. Flanagan: Being prepared for the altitude. Even though we went out a week early so my DD could get used to the altitude, it wasn’t enough. She really struggled all through Basic. She is used to it now. Others it didn’t bother as much, you just never know.


In-Processing Day (I-Day):

Highland: The “7 basic responses” –
Yes Sir/Ma’am
No Sir/Ma’am
No excuse, Sir/Ma’am
Sir/Ma’am, may I ask a question?
Sir/Ma’am, may I make a statement?
Sir/Ma’am, I do not understand.
Sir/Ma’am, I do not know.

Johns: I just thought of a good reminder!!! Make sure parents sign the release form!!!!

G. Leverenz: I was reluctant at first to join the various FB groups but have found them to be a wonderful extended family and resource for just about EVERYTHING!! And my I-day tip – if your cadet is in one of the last groups, and if you are a shopper like me, go early – we were in the very last group and most of the items in the store were gone. And I was so emotional that day my husband would have bought me anything!

G. Leverenz: And letters!! My son loved his letters! At first I thought there was no way I could write one everyday, but then it got to the point that I was writing 2-3 pages everyday  – it was my morning coffee ritual. He said it made him feel like he was sitting at the table talking with me. THAT made it all worthwhile (and I have to admit, it was great therapy for me!).

P. Reed: Make sure to buy the class names tote bag!!!! They will sell out by the end of the day!

Galloway: Don’t take it personal if your DD/DS want to go out for I Day without you. DS wanted to do it by himself and he knew it would be harder with us there. It was tough but the best thing for us.

Thackrah: I went to Basic Training alone but that was a different time. If your DS/DD wants to go it alone, so be it. They are ready for their next chapter. I will tell you though that it was an honor to go there with him and to see him in his first parade the next morning. Very emotional. His first letter home he said he could hear me scream, “Go Jackie!” as they marched passed the crowd and to the dorms. He needed that he said; I needed that in the first letter.

Truax: If you go to I-day, stay and watch the swearing in the next morning from the chapel wall. Arrive early to get a good spot (2 hours).

Watkins: I’m so glad you made this point. We made a cheapie sign in our hotel for the swearing in, but with big letters that said, GO WATKINS. We didn’t get there early enough to have a prime spot, but my dear, dear hubby held it up above people’s heads for what seemed like hours – We had no idea that our DS could see it… and then, when we got that precious first letter, his first words were, “I saw the Go Watkins sign.” I cried for a good 20 minutes.

Joyner: Same here… Jett told me he saw our Jett sign and “he really needed to see that” he said that helped him so much to see that we were there for him. We could not see him… but he saw us!!!

C. Malles: When you say goodbye & last hugs to your DS/DD on I-Day- as they head upstairs in the AOG building. … The parents are told to go downstairs and check out the booths…. DO NOT!!!!! GO IMMEDIATELY ACROSS THE ROOM TO THE FAR STAIRWELL. . AND WAIT to see them as they come down the stairs…then run outside to see them cross the bridge & board the bus! We only spent about 10 min looking at booths. …THEN walked to the other side and waited. . And waited…. and waited…. WE MISSED IT ALL! I was devastated! !! He must have only been upstairs a couple of minutes…. so, the booths can wait…. go back to them AFTER the bus drives away!!!

T. Yong: Totally agree with T. C. Malles – I almost missed it all… Also, I am a single parent and used the restroom when we arrived… DONT LEAVE YOUR CADET… We got totally separated and he had to go without me…fortunately someone lent him a phone so he could call me to find him to say good-bye. (Phones are taken immediately.) They really aren’t there long with you! Also, we were on a medical waiver and that is done after the board the bus. If you’re on a waiver, you stay in town until 5:00 and hope you don’t get a call. I never knew for sure if he made it! But he did.

T. Yong: And bring binoculars for the “wall” ceremony. Get there by 7:00 am for a front   row view.

Thackrah: Get the Class of 2020 coin. I love the one I got. I carry it with me often along with my 1st SOW coin that I have had since 1981. I wish I got two, one for my son but good thing is he could care less about that stuff. At least that’s what he says now. When I picked him up at Christmas I bought five of the silver USAFA coins at the gift shop for him to give out a home.

Watkins: If your son or daughter is a leftie, maybe they ought to practice signing their name with their right hand, because their left hand will be numb from having to carry their belongings all day during I-Day. My son could barely scribble his name every time he had to sign yet another form, because his left hand would be shaking and just would not respond. Actually, this leftie dilemma continued throughout his Doolie year, up until one week ago J. They have to salute with their right hand, so lefties are pretty much toast their first year. But this does make for great stories they will tell you!


Coping with the separation – BCT

W. Boyle: You basic is in good hands! And he/she will be ok.

Tatom: The other thing I learned is they do laugh and have fun during some of Basic. Some.

T. Wardner: Try to remember that this is your DS or DD’s college journey not yours, we are just along for the ride! They belong to USAFA now.

Bricker: wish I knew that such a big chunk of my heart could move outside of me and we would both be ok. It is a journey but such a blessing! And yes, USAFA knows what they are doing and yes, this group is a lifeline. We get it when no one else does.

O’Donnell: I’ve said this before here but I have a saying, you get 18 summers with your kids so make the best of them. We only got 17 (all of us). It seemed to sneak up on all of us. I think that is why I felt this way. That and this was my first. And dropping your kid off at basic is NOTHING like your friend dropping off their kid at college. Those parents will never understand.
Luckily, I got his 18th summer with all of you who do understand.

Highland: Trust the process. Tough road, new lessons, growing pains, tears from your kid when you didn’t think they would, learning military rules (for those new to military) and the proudest you will ever be of your child. They can do it!!

B. Barry: Let them go and watch them fly! They are all very capable!

H. Thomley: Enjoy your last few days with your DS or DD . Write and tell them what is going on at home. Do not send pics or drawings. Send plenty of Moleskins for blisters. Going to need at least 200.00 for the big shopping spree at the C-Store. You have a prayer page for your class. It is a great support system. Know you are not alone and the class of 2019 will be here for you. Prayers for the class of 2020.


Letters / Write2them

G. Crews: Mine liked getting encouragement letters from people who had graduated from USAFA and spoke about how BCT prepared them for the rest of their live living their dreams!

Tatom: Prepare yourself for the first letter and it will take longer than you think. Hopefully, the 3rd letter gets a bit better and you think they might survive. I would get them in the best shape of their life. Hearing my son say that was one thing he never had to worry about was the physical part of Basic because of what we had worked at was a small comfort in a very up and down 6 weeks.

M. Suggs: And, conversely…. be prepared that you may only get ONE letter. And be ok with it!

M. Hightower: The best letters we got were letters that I sent to DS that he had to fill in   the blanks and mail back. You will have tons of questions that the basics won’t even thing worthy of mentioning. This way they can give quick responses and your questions and concerns get addressed.

C. Demore: Oh, oh yeah, write2them was my savior! When I wrote to him everyday but he was not getting them in a timely fashion and pleaded with me for mail, write2them came in handy!

Nnaoj: It’s okay if you don’t receive many or any letters, they are fine, probably a bit overwhelmed. Just keep writing they are reading them…Keep his/her spirits up. They are going to need it.

Sommer: Definitely give out address labels or addressed envelopes to friends and family to go to you cadet during Basic. It really does make it almost bearable for them if they get lots of letters from home.

Pepe: We bought an Airmen’s Bible (that doesn’t look correct grammatically but you get the idea) and at DS’s graduation party we put it out with some pens and highlighters so people could highlight verses and write notes to him on the inside front and back covers. I then wrote down many references for verses on encouragement, strength, wisdom, etc. on the inside front cover as well.

Learn: I wrote a letter to my DS everyday and mailed it out the next morning. That way he received a letter pretty much everyday while in BCT. He loved hearing about what was going on in the world, as they had no way of knowing what was happening outside of USAFA. Also, be prepared for the first letter home. I cried and couldn’t even finish the letter. My son started writing his letter home the very first day of BCT. As you can imagine, it was not full of good news. Each letter after that did get better. Also, there weren’t many letters home but that’s ok. I wanted him to get sleep instead of staying up to write to us. When asked about it now, he is right where he wants/needs to be. There will be some tough times ahead but just remind them that it gets so much better for them after recognition. Welcome to the USAFA family!!!

Mccabe: Oh yes at our DD’s high school graduation party we made sure her friends had her mailing address. We didn’t hear much from her we mailed letters daily. Nothing big, just funny cards, what’s happening at home. And yes hang on as it’s a roller coaster the first year but as a parent of a 2017 graduate it’s soooo worth it!!! My cadet is living her dream!

W. D’Amato: Remind them not to send pics – can be a problem depending on cadre.

Johns: My daughter learned that the hard way.

Hms: is a nonprofit organization that enables you to email your cadet. You will be able to add family and friends to the account (I forget how many but its a fair amount) so that they can email as well. They receive the letters (they do not read them), print them, put them in a stamped envelope and deliver the mail directly to the Academy post office. It’s a fantastic service for use during Basic Training and your mail will reach your basic cadet much faster than regular mail. My son’s also told me friends that they wrote more than they would have if they had to actually hand write a letter. Also you can see a log of who wrote and when (but not what they wrote) so if you see a lag, you can reach out with friendly reminders to please write!

Shun: write to them was great! You can add friends and family. My DS shared his address on write2them with all his friends, and was receiving emails daily. Make sure everyone understands – your DS/DD cannot reply to any emails, just receive printouts.       Don’t attach any photos.

K. Carter: We loved write2them! One thing that was helpful to me is that far and away the vast majority of basics make it through and do fine. Also, don’t try to judge your basic’s state of mind by the WebGuy pics. DS almost never smiled because they were not supposed to smile.

Galloway: I wrote everyday too… sometimes 2 or 3 times a day!! Started sending letters before he left!

Johns: Number your letters so they know what order to open.

B. Brazinski: got current events out a few times. They get absolutely no news while in basic. He definitely enjoyed a little bit of outside reality sent to him.

Williams: I wish I would have known how much I was going to miss that darn DS of mine & that I would be spending everyday counting down to days we would get to see him. Don’t overwhelm your DS/DD with questions…let them relax & tell you what they want you to know. It’s very difficult not knowing what’s going on every minute of their lives, but you will need to get used to this new normal. Your new BFF will be WebGuy…trust me on this one! Enjoy every moment you have with your Cadet during PW in September. They will share quite a bit of their lives with you at that time. This is unlike any other college experience & you are going to be cheering on not only your DS/DD every moment, but ALL of the cadets as well; this is going to give you an incredible sense of pride everyday that you have with your child & with what they are accomplishing. Write & send cards EVERYDAY while in BCT…they will love getting the encouragement!! Wishing the Class of 2020 Parents all the best, much support, and many prayers in the coming months.

Bafford: I ended up free-styling it too, and I never heard about any trouble with them! I was so stressed about them being perfect, thought for sure he’d get beat-downs because of poorly labeled undies!

T. Hopkins: We spent about a week in Colorado mountains prior to A-Day. DS got to do his goodbyes with friends, teachers, mentors, grandparents and pets before the vacation. We then had a week of priceless family time before dropping him off for A-Day. I think this helped him prepare mentally and physically as well by being able to acclimate to the high altitude. I highly recommend if possible!

C. E. Guerrero: FB Parents Groups, Webguy, Write2them…these were our lifelines for making it through BCT…

W. D’Amato: Keep all the letters they send home (if any). My daughter is amazed now by what she wrote! I can’t believe in one year she will graduate!!!



Doolie Day Out

Buzzell: Text your cadet even though they don’t have heir phone during Basic. They will love seeing your text when they get their phone back on doolie day out with the sponsor families! They love hearing their phone blow up with the text notification noise when they turn their phones on for the 1st time in weeks! Just a great morale booster!


Acceptance Day

T. Hopkins: We didn’t plan on going to Acceptance, too far. At last minute my husband and daughter drove out! My DS said it was the best day of his life because family showed up. Husband and daughter said the 12-hour drive was worth the 2 1/2 hours with Doolie to see him so happy! Go to Acceptance day if you can!

P. Reed: Yep! It is absolutely worth the trip!!!

Galloway: We decided to go to A day right before Doolie day out…we were going to surprise him…when talking to him on DDO we told him we were coming…. he needed that. Best 2.5 hours ever and worth every penny!

M. Moawad: Same! Best last minute decision I’ve ever made J.

Thackrah: I wasn’t going to go to Acceptance either. I went to the Appointment Tour in April and again on I-day in June. I told my wife to go to A-Day to get those 3 hours with Jack. In the end I had a company meeting and went through Denver with a layover so we both went and enjoyed the hell out of being with our son!!! We came out for Parents weekend with our girls and I came out again to meet my son for Christmas break, we rode to DIA together. I went to another company meeting in Dallas; he went home to Philly. If you can swing it, always go to see your Doolie! Five visits in a year! Yikes!

Watkins: I AGREE 100%! Go to Acceptance Day – try to make that work, somehow. You only get one Acceptance Day in their 4-year tenure. It’s the first time you’ll see your child in his or her blues, and looking over the cadet wing when they march out, after the agonizing BCT, will bring you to tears of joy and admiration. It is a moment that was worth every penny we spent making the trip with our youngest. ALSO, we got to see our son for 6 hours!!! We hang out at Arnold Hall, and he was able to come and eat with us. We took more pictures there. Even though visitors’ hours had passed, no one asked us our business or to leave; we were just there, loving our son!!!

Ocheskey: Acceptance Day was very worth the flight, hotel and rental car. Was so glad I went. I would not miss it.

H. Maggos: So glad I went out for A day- having lunch with my DS and his roommate was worth the trip. Loved hearing all the stories and seeing how happy he was- put my mind at ease and made me realize that USAFA is where he belongs. His ALO suggested I go and I am forever grateful to her suggestion.

Joyner: If you can… go to A day.. Those few hours are so worth the time with your DS!!! Don’t worry about packing a huge picnic because when the parade is over all the cadets do their own thing anyway. Made pack a sandwich and a drink just for your cadet…we also spent extra time taking at the courtyard in Arnold hall… just sitting and talking gave us added hours!

Bafford: I didn’t get nearly that long, but still very worth it and do not freak out when you see them all passing out left and right!!!

Galloway: Our DS did pass out!

Bafford: Me too!!! And I was still slightly freaked out…. literally, they seemed to be dropping like flies!

Watkins: And it happened again during Parents’ Weekend, so, we need to just keep expecting it, and, if it happens, just breathe and take them out to Starbucks afterwards, lol

W. D’Amato: But if you can’t afford it, please don’t beat yourself up. Your cadet will survive. Remind them to have someone take a photo. There will be people there who will take multiple cadets under their wings (sponsor families, etc.). It was hard not to be there but my cadet knew I had financial priorities and she wanted us there at Parents weekend.



Gordon: Take a really good look at your child’s ears before they leave…. that may be the only way to recognize them while viewing Webguy pics of BCT!

O’Donnell: And feet, and knees, and elbows, and the back of their head. I have too many of those pics.

Johns: Oh and don’t be surprised if you post a picture of your child and figure out a few days later that it’s not your child! Waldo looks the same! In my case it was easy. My DD is in 40 so she was always at the end. Then I  would look for my Internet friend… B.  Sutton’s son. Bingo. Always close by like an angel.

Galloway: funny you mention that… I put all of the BCT pics in a scrapbook and Peyton was looking at it and pointed out 2 pics that were not him!!!! I told him we would just pretend that it was!!!

Blair: Subscribe to Write2them and write to your cadet daily. Don’t expect to hear from your cadet very often during BCT. They are so exhausted and don’t have much downtime. Also, before I Day, ask them to send a special signal to you, that they are OK: specifically an ear tug or a Shaka sign. They won’t be able to smile during BCT1 and it will mean the world to you!

Mathes: If your cadet never smiles or thumbs up, they are really ok. Mine had a squad that asked they refrain from that or face consequences. Mine took them VERY serious. Lol

H. Thomley: Do not read too much into the pics on WebGuy. My DS told me what I was thinking in my mind was wrong. My parent radar was going off and I was getting emotional. The site crashed on the class of 2019 more than once. Be ready to flip through pics for hours and then realize the pics you saved are not even your basic. The little darlings all look the same. Stay strong and if we can survive so can you. Prayer and wine helps too. God Bless to the parents of the class of 2020…

Watkins: Great advice. What we see in pics has already passed; they have already conquered whatever physical pain they were in. This goes for letters as well; if they write         that they want to go home, we must remember that we’ll be reading the letter days after   this feeling hit them. Just keep praying for them and writing letters of encouragement and        support.

Ocheskey: For the Web guy photos. …Your DS or DD will probably not smile much. First they cannot most of the time or they will get in trouble with the Cadre…second they probably won’t feel like it. Come up with a code sign that you and your DS or DD knows and if they see web guy can do to let you know he or she is okay with out needing to smile. You will be wondering and the letters are slow to come. It helps a lot. For example fingers crossed on a pant leg or touching their hat, etc. Something subtle to let you know they are good. Web guy is very, very important that first 6 weeks.

M. Suggs: About your kid….He/She will be fine. Really. USAFA has done this whole developing a cadet thing thousands of times. Breathe, relax, and trust the process. And, for you West Coasters…Webguy site crashed a bunch in the early evenings due to high traffic. Wait until the East Coast stalkers (uh, I mean parents) go to bed. You will get through the many pages of pictures much more quickly.


Parents Weekend

A. Stocking: We have no prior military experience so I was truly amazed at the AF family. There is always someone there to take care of my son. Always. Trust that USAFA knows what it is doing. My son’s first letter home started with “So, this straight up sucks.” Expect that they will do hard things, and they will succeed. My son was told to take chapel time every time it was offered during BCT. (I forget, but it’s not called chapel time anymore. Anyone?). It does not matter what religion you are, if any, chapel time means quiet, rest, and nobody yelling at you. My son appreciated those experiences and some of the best WebGuy photos we have of him are he smiling on his way out of the chapel after some service or another. Expect that your cadet will be tired. When we visited on PW, if we held still for 5 minutes, he was asleep. I made sure he had plenty of time to rest on PW. Make sure to take your cadet somewhere away from the Academy on PW. They have been there for two months and that’s all they’ve seen. They are anxious to see more, and not the same view of the same mountains.

J. Martinez: Parents weekend!
It’s always scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Book rooms early and don’t attempt to go out for breakfast before the Saturday football game. There will be so much food at the tailgate. Also don’t plan on too many activities during parents weekend. CS is a great place but it’s hard when the Doolies have to be in uniform.


Spirit Mission

Johns: Wish I knew way back then what a spirit mission did! J