For many, this will be your child's first experience away form home. Even if they are experienced traveler the environment at Fort Custer is likely different from anything they have experienced to date. Intake Day is stressful for everyone. This note is intended to provide you as parents some tips and insights that will set your child up for success, and make it more likely that they will get the most out of the training experience they are about to undergo.
Let me reassure you. We are all parents as well, and fully appreciate the trust and confidence you have placed in us. For the time they are under our command, we will treat them as if they were in the Navy. It is our desire to provide an age-appropriate experience that is as authentic as possible. We will also take care of them as we would want our own children taken care, with respect and dignity. Their safety always comes first. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.
As I stated previously Intake Day is stressful for everyone. It is a new environment, with lots of rules that seem confusing (at first). Few cadets have previously slept in open bay berthing area, or stand a one hour watch at 1:00 am, or had 3 minutes to shower daily (yes, it can be done). Take to your child prior to Intake Day about being flexible, being open to learning new things, a new way of doing old things, and just paying attention to the experience. Eight days seems like a long time to a young cadet. You and I both know it will be over before they can blink.
About Wednesday, 17 July, please write a letter to your cadet (do not let them know you are doing this). The address is in the Welcome Aboard Letter. Fill it with encouragement. Tell them how proud you are of them trying something new, that you are looking forward to seeing them graduate, etc, etc. You all know the type of motivating letter I am talking about. If Fluffy, or Great Aunt Betty passes away while they are at the training, PLEASE do them and us a favor and hold off on mentioning that until the training is over.
Some cadets have a strange disease on Intake Day, with all the stress, strange people, haircuts, new diet (no caffeine or sugar), new surroundings, etc., it is called HOMESICKNESS, and it lasts about 48 hours. However, cadet mail is distributed daily in the evenings. I have seen dozens of cadets over the years complain of strange symptoms on Intake Day, asking to go to Sickbay. It usually turns out to be homesickness. A positive encouraging letter from Mom & Dad, waiting for them on the first day, makes all the difference for those cadets who need it most. They are FINE after the first 48 hours. We promise not to beat them, starve them, or anything else they might claim in their letters home to you (yes, we give them scheduled time to write home if they choose to, not all do).
Please remember we have limited Internet access during the training. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. If there is an emergency, CALL THE UNIT COMMANDING OFFICER.They will know how to reach me during the training.
One last comment, do not make your child go to Orientation if they hate the program and are just doing it to make you happy. I see this every year and it never turns out well. They become passive aggressive or disruptive in hopes of being sent home. I will send them home and it usually happens late in the afternoon. It is not a pleasant drive back to Fort Custer after a long day at work or having to take the day off work to pick them up.
If you are concerned about their maturity level or any other special concerns please contact me before you send in their Request For Training and the deposit.
If you child has a bed wetting issue contact me firstname.lastname@example.org prior to training to work out a plan of action. This will help minimize the time our escort officer has to do laundry. We handle everything as discreetly as possible. Trust me this happens every year.