Parents’ Weekend/Ring Weekend, 2014

The Class of 2011 wait to receive their rings. photo by Stanley Leary

The Class of 2011 wait to receive their rings.
photo by Stanley Leary

Each year at this time the searches for information on Parents’ Weekend light up my search stats for the blog. Since not much changes from year to year, I am posting the answers to the frequently asked questions and providing a link to previous blog posts on the topic.

The schedule for the weekend can be found on the home page of the school website, or by clicking HERE.

The schedule for the companies to go through the ring is on the weekly training schedule for October 6 – 12, click HERE, and scroll to the week’s schedule.

The dress for senior parents: for the afternoon ring presentation at 12:55, the cadets are in their most formal uniform. We decided to wear nice clothes for this event as well. You will see a little of everything.

The Ring Ceremony is when seniors traditionally escort their mother through the replica of the ring. It is really just an opportunity for a photo, but it is still a very meaningful event. Traditionally moms wear a long formal dress. You will see some in a cocktail type dress. Some cadets escort a girlfriend or other family member along with their mother.

other friends and family can watch from the stands. They do not have to wear formal attire.

Some cadets get a group together to eat before or after walking through the ring. The timing for dinner depends on when you go through the ring and the preference of the group. In 2010 Bravo company had an 8:30pm time so we went to dinner at 5:30 then went to campus. The cadets wore their blazers to dinner then changed. The moms wore their gowns to dinner.

The family and friends of the members of the Junior Sword Arch like to attend the beginning of the ceremony. Anyone can attend the event, but usually it is just the JSA families and friends, and the family and friends of seniors.

Saturday morning the barracks open and the four Kelly Cup squads compete. The knobs are promoted from cadet recruits to cadet privates in a ceremony in front of their company letter.

The parade is at 11:00, followed by lunch. The cadets only have 45 minutes so packing a picnic or eating in the mess hall are the best bet. You do need tickets to eat in the mess hall. See the calendar linked above for that information.  After knob year some families just opt to tailgate for lunch.

It tends to still be warm in Charleston in October. Keep an eye on the weather forecast so you’ll be prepared with the right clothes.

The Summerall Guards perform during halftime of the football game.

After the football game the cadets have general leave.

Sunday the cadets have general leave for most of the day.

I am looking forward to being on campus for the first time since 2010. Last Spring I had the winning bid at the Brigadier Foundation fundraiser to shoot the cannon at halftime of the football game. My husband will be on the sideline shooting the game (Stanley is a photographer). My daughter and I will shoot the cannon then head back to the stands.

I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting many of the people. I only know through Facebook.

A variety of photos from Friday night of Ring Weekend

My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring. photo by Stanley Leary

My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring.
photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

photo by Stanley Leary

Saturday morning promotion ceremony photos:

Senior cadet and a member of the 2008 Summerall Guards, Mike Mason talks to his knob mentee, Nelson Lalli during the 4th Class promotion ceremony, October 2007. Both men are now graduates and officers int eh U.S. Army.

Senior cadet and a member of the 2008 Summerall Guards, Mike Mason talks to his knob mentee, Nelson Lalli during the 4th Class promotion ceremony, October 2007. Both men are now graduates and officers int eh U.S. Army.

Bravo '11 knobs do their push ups with the cadre after receiving their company letter.

Bravo ’11 knobs do their push ups with the cadre after receiving their company letter.

Bravo Company knobs face the Company Commander during the promotion ceremony, 2007.

Bravo Company knobs face the Company Commander during the promotion ceremony, 2007.

Bravo knobs prepare for the promotion ceremony on Parent's Weekend. photo by Seth Ruff

Bravo knobs prepare for the promotion ceremony on Parent’s Weekend.
photo by Seth Ruff

The promotion ceremony, 2010. photo by Stanley Leary

The promotion ceremony, 2010.
photo by Stanley Leary

The Citadel: Tradition and Change, A Guest Contribution

Each year about this time the cadets begin to complain about changes to their routines and the way it was when they were knobs. This year is no different. I wrote an entry about change and The Citadel in 2012.

The Citadel has a new commandant who is enforcing the rules that are on the books, or so I am told by alumni. Since I did not graduate from The Citadel and did not live through knob year, I asked 1989 alumnus, Paul Tamburrino, to contribute an entry about The Citadel: Tradition and Change.

Cadet Paul Tamburrino, '89

Cadet Paul Tamburrino Photo courtesy of Paul Tamburrino

By Paul Tamburrino

Talk to any Citadel alumnus or cadet, and you will hear the word “tradition” used in reference to policies, procedures, customs, rituals, and just about anything else pertaining to the school. In their minds, what happened during their tenure on campus is an enduring tradition. Books have even been written about traditions of The Citadel.

The Citadel traditions most commonly referenced are related to the 4th Class System, Cadre, Recognition Day, Ring Ceremony and Ring Night, the Junior Sword Drill/Arch, the Summerall Guards, specific Cadet Company practices, and barracks’ hi-jinks (Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner, Halloween, Senior Rip-Off, among many others).

“Change is the only constant in life” is a quote that is attributed to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. It could have easily have been originated in 1842 with the opening of The Citadel. Isn’t it ironic that a school so steeped in “tradition” could be closely associated with a quote about change? Traditions at The Citadel change almost as frequently as the seasons.

It usually takes about two years for a practice to become a tradition at The Citadel. If a practice lasts a cadet’s entire four years on campus, it is considered an “eternal” tradition, meaning “it has always been like that”.

If you get to eavesdrop on conversation between alumni of different generations, you will hear them talk about shared traditions of Knob Year. The details of their experiences will always differ greatly. What is interesting to note is that the 4th Class System does NOT date back to the early years of The Citadel. In fact, it is a rather “new” tradition. To learn more about the evolution of the Freshman experience at The Citadel, a good read is from Alex Macaulay ’94, Assistant Professor of History, Western Carolina University: Building New Traditions: The Citadel in Post-World War II America.

A cadet rides the Cogburn Cow

A Cadet rides the Coburn Cow Image courtesy of Paul Tamburrino

Each year, cadets cling to what they consider “traditions” to explain why they may do something or to lament a change in the policies and procedures of the college. Alumni will do the same thing. Almost always, what they considered a “tradition” is either a bad habit or something that was relatively isolated to their tenure on campus.

Many traditions seem to be eternal, like The Citadel Honor Code. It is considered a foundation of The Citadel experience, but it also is not originated from 1842. While there has always been a concept of “honor” at The Citadel, the current Honor Code has only been in place since 1955. While the Code has remained the same, the interpretations of it have evolved over the decades since first instituted.

Tradition at The Citadel is very important for the fabric of The Citadel experience. It is what binds cadet to cadet, cadet to alumnus, and alumnus to alumnus. It is our shared experiences that make our network stronger than any other alumni group. But, dig deep down and you will find that these traditions are not as rooted in history as even we would like to think. The only enduring tradition at The Citadel is change.

Paul Tamburrino

Jason, Dorie and Paul visit during the parade Friday. Jason is reaching behind Dorie in this photo to tickle Paul. Too funny!

I visited with these two ’89 grads on Corps Day, ’14

 

Learning The Citadel Website

The Citadel

Each year about this time the stats for this blog go a bit nuts as anxious family and friends search for information on their Citadel knob, a first year cadet recruit at The Citadel. I am not a graduate of the school and cannot speak to what the 4th Class System is like from a cadet perspective. I can however tell you about what it is like to be a concerned parent.

On my personal Facebook page I will post the blog search terms of the day when something strikes me as particularly funny or unique. One term that makes me laugh is “Dorie Citadel,” especially since I was so anxious about the whole 4th Class System when my son was going through it in 2007. Some of the search terms make me wish I could reach out to the person searching for information to tell them it will be OK. My email address is in the About Dorie section if you would like to ask a questions to me directly.

This week, the first week knobs are on campus, I give new parent a few tips on navigating the school web site. For instance, everything they do is outlined on the Office of the Commandant page under the Operations and Training section, then click on Training Schedules. Just scroll down and look for the current week. This week the schedule is broken down by company. After this week you’ll know your knobs class schedule and will see the general schedule for the Corps of Cadets.

On the Facebook groups for parents, here is the link for the 2018 parent group, you can find previous posts and topics by entering a search term into the search window function. Look for the magnifying glass icon on the upper right side of a group page under the cover photo. Click on the icon and the search window appears. Enter your search term and press enter. Previous posts on that term will appear. A photo of the icon is on this page.

A caution about Facebook and social media for this first year, knobs want to keep a low profile. While as parents we are proud of the decision our son or daughter made in attending The Citadel, tagging them on public pages or using a hashtag to ID them as being a knob at The Citadel will raise the profile of a knob and therefore may bring more attention to a knob.

The Facebook group search window will appear when you click on the magnifying glass icon.

The Facebook group search window will appear when you click on the magnifying glass icon. to the right of the words Notification and Create Group.

A word of caution about the various YouTube videos out there. If you are struggling with not speaking to your student this first week, wait to view the videos. There are some really fun and inspiring videos, but there are also quite a few out there of the cadre yelling at the knobs. You will note in the recent ones that the TAC officers, staff who oversee the barracks, are seen observing the cadets. It is still hard to watch knowing your student will be the one getting yelled at this year. If you don’t mind seeing knobs get yelled at see this video of the knobs returning form the beach in 2011.

Each company determines when the knobs get their phone and computer privileges. Usually it is by the start of classes. Please know that knobs have no control over their time and cannot pick up the call or answer a text at will. This is hard on parents but really difficult for some girlfriends to understand. If a knob hangs up quickly it is because someone entered the room. Do not call them back. Wait for them to call you when they can.

Do send goodies to them each cadet has their own preference. My son preferred healthy food. Another Citadel Mom wrote a great blog post about care packages and how to save money on postage. You can read it here. You can order boxes through the US Post Office free online. The box #1096L is the largest small box that fits in their boxes. The box will fit in a flat rate envelope saving you postage. You can save money of postage by using the Click-N-Ship option.

Many parents ask when they can see their knob for the first time. This year August 31 is the day they will first be able to get off campus for the afternoon. If you can’t wait to see them until parents Weekend,  which is October 10 – 12, 2014, the best time to see them is on what is called an open weekend on the Yearly Planning Calendar. Open and Closed weekends don’t mean too much for knobs since they cannot have an overnight this first semester. On an Open weekend there are no mandatory Saturday Morning Inspections (SMI) and upperclass cadets can request leave for the weekend. For knobs it means they can go off campus Friday night, Saturday from about 7:00 am – 11:30 pm and Sunday from after chapel or Ethics seminar (10:00am) until 7:00pm or so.

Each year the Corps of Cadets participate in a few special events. You can read about them on the website by clicking here. Parents Weekend is a big occasion for knobs. It is during a ceremony Saturday of Parents Weekend that they are promoted from cadet recruits to cadet privates. During the ceremony the cadre and knobs do a class set of pushups and the knobs receive the company letter which is worn on their uniform. For more information on Parents Weekend schedule watch the school web site and the Cadet Activities page. You can also read previous posts by putting “Parents Weekend” in the search window of this site.

The Cadet Activities office has a program where they will quietly deliver cookies to cadets for special occasions. You can read about it here. They also handle the order forms for the school newspaper The Brigadier, a good way fro families to keep up with the happenings on campus.

The football games are fun to attend. For tickets and information on all the athletic events visit the web site Citadel Sports. They also have a Facebook page, The Citadel Sports. The Citadel Brigadier Foundation is another good page to follow. The foundation raises funds to support the athletic program and scholarships.

Professor Tiffany Silverman with Monuments Men author, Robert Edsel, and several cadets at the VIP reception before the lecture

Professor Tiffany Silverman with Monuments Men author, Robert Edsel, and several cadets at the VIP reception before the lecture

If you are more into the arts, you’ll be thrilled to learn about Fine Arts at The Citadel. A terrific program that last year brought in the author of the book Monuments Men to campus for a book signing and talk. The program is headed by Professor Tiffany Silverman and offers a variety of classes to cadets, including a Fine Arts minor.

I encourage each family to take time to learn about the school and what is available by exploring the web site. The A-Z Search option is a great tool and the People Search option is also very helpful. Both are located under the Info tab of the citadel.edu web site.

Survival Tips for Knob Parents

The Class of 2018 reports to 5th battalion. photo by David Hall

The Class of 2018 reports to 5th battalion.
photo by David Hall

Welcome to The Citadel parent family!
I am sure Matriculation Day was a mixed bag of emotions for you. The Citadel Family Association volunteers do a terrific job of helping ease what is usually a very stressful day for families. The real tough time for parents begins today.

I am not a graduate of The Citadel so I cannot speak to the cadet experience, but I can relate to how a parent feels when they send their student off to knob year. If you are a parent of a knob, please join the Facebook group I moderate, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2018. I will not accept requests to join from extended family members or friends. It is very time consuming volunteer work to keep the parent groups going. I cannot extend an invitation to extra people. Please send me an email before you request to join to verify you are the parent of a knob send me their name and company. My email can be found in the “About Dorie” section of this blog site.

5th Battalion photo by David Hall

5th Battalion
photo by David Hall

This first week without contact from your knob is tough. Each year parents find some measure of comfort by visiting the various school Facebook groups to find photos and videos of the week. I’ll post a few links to helpful Facebook groups at the end of this entry.

A note about Facebook and social media this first year. Facebook groups can be a great way to connect with other parents. It can also cause trouble among parents and cadets when too much is shared to a group wall, or when parents think they should know everything that is going on every minute of every day.

Please limit your posts to general questions. If you have specific questions pertaining to your cadet you send private messages to a trusted friend or CFA volunteer. Do not post specifics about your knob or any cadet to a Facebook group or page.

Know that the groups were established to answer general questions, not to give a full accounting of everything a cadet will do each day. The Citadel is a leadership school. The knobs will learn to take control of their process and learn to navigate the 4th Class System. You can be an encouraging presence. You cannot do this for them.

Related to Facebook is the tagging of your knob in photos. It is best not to tag photos you see on public sites. When you tag your knob the photo is then visible to their friends and family and they begin to post comments. The comments will be visible to the public. Most knobs want to keep a low profile. If you see a photo of your knob, download it and repost to your own page for your family and friends to see.

If at any time you have a concern, I encourage you to address the appropriate department on campus. If the question pertains to something in the company or barracks contact the TAC officer for the company or battalion. A confidential resource on campus is the ombudsperson’s office. They will take your calls or emails an answer your questions confidentially. You can find their contact information and other resources on the web page named H.E.L.P.

On Monday night the school will have a live stream presentation of the Oath Ceremony. You can find the details linked to the home page of the school web site or click here.

Starting this week and throughout the year you can see the schedule for the Corps of Cadets on the Office of the Commandant page. Once on the page click on Operations and Training, then Training Schedules , then look for the week you are interested in reading about. The schedule for this first week is titled, “August 16 – 24, 2014 (Company rotation schedule).” You will see the knobs are kept VERY busy in meetings all week.

Great Facebook pages to follow this year include:

The Citadel

Citadel Photography

The Citadel Bookstore

The Citadel Alumni Association

The Citadel Sports

The Citadel – Department of Cadet Activities

Count down for The Citadel Class of 2018

Knobs line up in 3rd battalion to get their pT clothes.

Knobs line up in 3rd battalion to get their PT clothes.

We are less than two weeks away from Matriculation Day for The Citadel Class of 2018. I thought I’d post a few helpful Facebook groups new parents may want to join or follow as well as a few links to helpful web pages on the school site.

By now your soon-to-be knob should have read through the Success Packet and have the items listed on the required list. Please note that there is a big change to the instructions for knobs this year. On page 7 of the Success packet the labeling instructions for clothes is listed. In past years all labeling was done once the knobs arrived.

The Class of 2014 reports in on Matriculation Day.

The Class of 2014 reports in on Matriculation Day.

The Citadel Family AssociationNice to Have List” is just suggested items to pack along too. The iron is a must. Some companies do not allow knobs to have full size ironing boards so to start off send along a travel size board. Cleaning supplies are also good to send along at the beginning and just a few school supplies to start with since each class has different requirements a notebook or two and pens, pencils and a stapler are a good idea to send too.

Charlie Company knobs report.

Charlie Company knobs report.

Regarding social media:If your son or daughter hasn’t already their privacy settings on social media should be set very high. They should not have any photos with them wearing Citadel clothing, or any branch of the military. They also should not post anything with a Citadel related hashtag unless they want the attention of all the cadets and alumni before they start.

Your family and friends, including girlfriends and boyfriends of knobs should be made aware they should not tag photos of your knob that appear on public pages. They should also understand that this year a knob will not be able to return calls or texts at will. Be patient and then be grateful for what ever communication you have.

Facebook groups for parents:

The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2018 This group is only for parents of knobs in the class of 2018 or parents of cadets transferring into the school. Please send a private message to me on Facebook to verify you are a parent of a knob. You can also send me an email to verify you are the parent of a member of the class of 2018

Citadel Alumni Grad/Dad Advice - For parents of all cadets with some staff and administration. This group established by Paul Tamburrino offers information for parents in a straight forward manner, no sugar-coating here.

Facebook pages to follow (all family members may follow these pages):

The Citadel

Citadel Photography

The Citadel Bookstore

Citadel Family Association (CFA)

The Citadel Sports

A knob gets special attention Sunday morning.

Once your knob gets involved with various activities and departments there are other groups to join as well. Each battalion has a group and many companies have Facebook groups for parents. I usually advise parents to join the groups the first year but wait until after knob year to post to groups with parents of all classes in them. I also advice all parents to use caution and not to post information particular to your cadet to any group page.

The Cadre lead the Class of 2016 from the mess hall to their first meeting. The first week this process is repeated over and again.

The Cadre lead the Class of 2016 from the mess hall to their first meeting. The first week this process is repeated over and again.

Tips for Matriculation Day:

Make a list of all items you have to bring. Include your knobs wallet and ID on the list. Each year someone leaves theirs at home

Print out the information on the Office of the Commandant Matriculation Day page, especially the schedule for the day, traffic diagram, and necessary forms to bring.

If you arrive ahead of time, make a dry run to the campus from your hotel so you will avoid wrong turns the morning of matriculation day.

Remember to say your good-byes at the hotel that morning. Once on campus things move pretty quickly. Do try to snap a few photos of your knob when they come out in their “knobbie” clothes. They are great photos to look at four years later.

Read through the link on the left hand side of this page titled Matriculation Day: Reporting in that first day for additional tips.

Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.

Bravo knobs meet the cadre right after the sallyport gates are closed, Matriculation Day, 2010

Bravo knobs meet the cadre right after the sallyport gates are closed, Matriculation Day, 2010

Gearing Up for the New School Year: Information for Citadel and LDAC Cadet Families

Cars begin to line up at the alumni center in the early morning hours of Matriculation Day.

Cars begin to line up at the alumni center in the early morning hours of Matriculation Day.

As the excitement and fun of the 4th of July holiday is winding down, I have observed an increase in search terms relating to Matriculation Day for the Class of 2018, Parents Weekend for the Class of 2015 and oddly enough LDAC information. The first two categories I expect each year at this time. What I have realized is the US Army moved their Leader Development and Assessment Course to Ft. Knox from Joint Base Lewis McChord and the way they are now delivering information to family and friends is not as easy to find or complete as in years past.

For the family and friends of cadets at LDAC I will include a few links I have found for current information. Be sure to click the links provided within these pages for more information:

On Facebook: U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Summer Training 

Leader Development and Assessment Course blog site

ROTC CST YouTube channel

LDAC photos

U.S.Army Cadet Command news

For the Class of 2018 and their parents: The school has now updated the Matriculation Day information on their website. Be sure to check out each and every link and entry on the list. Some, like the assessments link, include links to items you MUST act on by a particular date.

I’ve noted a few changes from years past. In the Success Packet they now ask that incoming knobs label their clothes. Bedding will be labeled by the laundry service. In years past this was part of the first week experience. See page 7 of the Success Packet for the complete instructions. Tips for the items on the Success Packet required list and the Citadel Family Associations “Nice to Have List” can be found on this previous blog post, Welcome to the Class of 2018.

A knob checks in at the table in the sallyport (entrance) of the barracks.

A knob checks in at the table in the sallyport (entrance) of the barracks.

Another large change is the school will not be mailing a copy of the Guidon, the book that knobs MUST learn and memorize parts of this year. It is available online. They suggest incoming knobs begin to memorize the knob knowledge prior to Matriculation Day. The  List of Knob Knowledge and where to find the information is on page 55 of the Guidon available online.

A few helpful links for the Class of 2018 follow. I suggest taking time and reading through the previous posts about knob year too:

The Admission’s office Matriculation Day Headquarters page

The Office of the Commandant‘s Matriculation Information page

For an over view of Parents Weekend see the entries at the end of the post.

The Facebook group for parents, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2018
( please request to join and also send me a note on Facebook or an email, found in the About Dorie section of this blog, to verify you are the parent of a cadet. Extended family members and friends are not allowed in the group)

Entering knobs place their belongings on the side walk outside the barracks and go to check in. Family members wait by the belongings.

Entering knobs place their belongings on the side walk outside the barracks and go to check in. Family members wait by the belongings.

 

After the gates close the knobs line up in their company to prepare to march to lunch.

After the gates close the knobs line up in their company to prepare to march to lunch.

For the parents of the Class of 2015:

Congratulations!! You are about to enter one of the most fun years at The Citadel. Ring Weekend will be here before you know it, October 10 – 12, 2014. If you haven’t done so already be sure to book your accommodations for the weekend. Be ready to see your cadet smile like you haven’t seen them smile on campus before.

The activities begin Friday with the ring presentation around noon. If you can get there early enough to watch them march into the field house as the knobs cheer them on. It is open seating for this event and there are no limits to the number of people who can attend. You will see all types of dress on the people attending. It is an important event. The cadets will be in there most formal uniform. Families should dress comfortably but appropriately for the occasion.

The Class of 2011 runs to the chapel after receiving their rings.

The Class of 2011 runs to the chapel after receiving their rings.

Bravo '11 members run through the sword arch.

Bravo ’11 members run through the sword arch.

Bravo '11 members show off their rings.

Bravo ’11 members show off their rings.

After they receive their rings the seniors RUN out of the field house and knock their rings on the chapel, a nod to the days they received them in the chapel in a ceremony just for cadets. They then Run back into their barracks for a toast at the company letter. Station yourself at a sallyport with a view of the company letter and have a zoom lens for great photos. Our son’s senior year his TAC allowed my husband and a few others into the battalion to take photos. You should not assume permission will be granted. Check with the TAC Friday morning to see the current policy.

The afternoon, from about 2:00 until it is your cadet’s company designated time to go through the ring, is free time. The Cadet Activities office posts the Ring Ceremony information sometime in September. Check their website.

Each company is assigned a time to go through the ring by the Cadet Activities office. It is really just a photo opportunity for the cadet and their family. Whomever will walk through the ring with their senior cadet needs to arrive 15 minutes before their designated time. The wait can take up to an hour, so be sure you have on comfortable shoes for standing. You will be instructed on where to look as you walk through the ring and the sword arch. If you have a high-end camera your family member or friend may be able to get a good photo without a flash. Anyone not going through the ring can watch from the stands. There is no dress code to sit and watch. Anyone walking through the ring should dress appropriately for this formal occasion. It is tradition for women to wear a formal gown, but in recent years many have worn cocktail length dresses, or a dressy skirt and blouse. Like most everything else on campus, you will see a little of everything.

Dinner reservations should be made around the time the company’s designated time to go through the ring. Our year Bravo Company went through after 8:00, so a group of us met for an early dinner. Our cadets then went out together, without parents afterward.

The Junior Sword Arch opens the presentation around 6:00, see the official schedule this fall for exact times. Anyone can attend and see this performance.

After the Friday festivities the rest of the weekend is like every other Parents Weekend, open barracks Saturday, a concert on the parade field, parade lunch on your own and the football game.

A few members of Bravo Company and their dates pose by the company letter before they walk through the ring.

A few members of Bravo Company and their dates pose by the company letter before they walk through the ring.

You can see photos of dresses worn in previous years on the blog entries listed here:

The Citadel Parents/Ring Weekend 2012 + Hotel Info

The Citadel Parents Weekend Ring Weekend Tips

The Citadel: Parent Weekend Tips for the Class of 2014 and 2017

Transitions and Letting Go

On Matriculation Day the "Blue Shirt" volunteers are parents of cadets who volunteer to help the new cadets get settled in. Here you can see a group carrying items into 1st Battalion.

On Matriculation Day the “Blue Shirt” volunteers are parents of cadets who volunteer to help the new cadets get settled in. Here you can see a group carrying items into 1st Battalion.

I am just days away from a major shift in the way I’ve been living for the past ten years. On Monday, June 2, I begin a year-long stint as a resident in the chaplain’s office at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. I haven’t commuted daily to a job since 2004.

For the past ten years I have had contract positions where most of the work was done by computer and phone with occasional face to face meetings. I will now work 7:30 – 4:30 each day with on call duty one weekend a month.

For the past four years I’ve also contributed to this blog and maintain several Facebook groups for parents of cadets and graduates of The Citadel. How this activity will change is not clear right now. I assume I’ll still check in on the group sat the end of the day and contribute to the blog as I find the time. If you are a new Citadel parent, remember to use the search window on this blog and also on the school website. Just about every thing you need to know as a parent can be found on the school website or in previous posts to this blog or the Off the Base blog.

In previous years I’ve been on Facebook throughout the day to help answer questions in the parent groups. Fortunately I am not the only one in the groups a GREAT group of parents of graduates help answer questions in the groups. A few parents in the groups have multiple children at the school and they help answer questions too. Once I start working full-time I’m sure I’ll be able to check the group pages most evenings and on the weekend.

The Facebook group search window will appear when you click on the magnifying glass icon.

The Facebook group search window will appear when you click on the magnifying glass icon.

A tip to new parents: Join the The Citadel: Parents of  the Class of 2018 (email me to let me know your student will be a knob my address is in the About section of this blog). Being part of the group means you’ll learn about the 4th Class system together. You will find you are not alone in your questions. A BIG reason I started this group is to help parents learn about the system and learn to empower their knob/cadet to take control of their process. When you are missing your knob the first week, visit the group page.

Letting go of the control you’ve had as a parent is the toughest part of sending a child to The Citadel. It is a leadership school. That means your cadet will learn to take control of their future. For that to happen the cadet has to take the lead in advocating for them self.

Between cell phones, email and Skype families are more connected than ever. Technology can be a good thing, but it also means that for many parents of knobs, this first year can be very traumatic as you adjust to not being able to talk to your child whenever you would like to talk to them. Use the next few months as a transition period to prepare for scant communication.

Knobs do not have control over their time. They WILL NOT be able to reply to an email or text right away, much less a phone call. This is particularly tough on parents who are used to talking to their child throughout the day. It is really tough on the girlfriends or boyfriends of cadets. They too need to understand that knobs do not have control of much of anything other than their reactions this first year.

One way to cope with the separation with your knob is to learn to use the school website. Reading about the school and the training the cadets go through can help you feel connected when you can’t see or hear from them. I suggest this each year, NOT for you to tell your son or daughter what to do, but to help you understand the system at The Citadel. If you know the terminology and a little about the campus it means you can spend the little time you do have on the phone visiting and not asking for explanations of terms. A good book to read to help you understand knob year is, “In the Company of Men,” by Nancy Mace.

The Guidon is online and has a section with photos of the various uniforms and terminology. It also tells you a bit about the history. Your cadet will get a copy in the mail before Matriculation Day and will need to memorize and internalize much of this book. For parents it is just a helpful reference book to have on hand.

Caitlyn Lees, 2012 grad, sits at he sign in table with a cadet on Matriculation Day.

Caitlyn Lees, 2012 grad, sits at he sign in table with a cadet on Matriculation Day.

Once school gets started you can get an idea of what their day is like by reading the weekly training schedules that are online. Visit the Office of the Commandant page, then select Operations and Training, then select Training Schedules. If you want to read through what they will learn click on Training to see the various training modules.

Remember just a few short years ago when the rising seniors were knobs their parents did not have the benefit of Facebook groups or blog posts to help them through. The groups for classes started with the Class of 2016. The tips I am passing along I learned during my sons knob year. I hardly heard from him that year and used the time to read through the web site as well as reading books like In the Company of Men, The Boo, In Glory’s Shadow, Sword Drill and yes, Lords of Discipline. The volunteers of the Citadel Family Association are a great resource too. Once school starts you can also reach out to the company and battalion parent representatives.

Two blog entries you’ll want to visit in August:

Matriculation Day: The Hardest Part for Parents is Letting Go

Hell Week and Knob Year Survival Tips for Parents 

I am heading into my first week as a chaplain resident at the VA. I’m feeling a bit like getting ready for the first day of school. I’m not sure how often I will be contributing here in the months to come. My hope is that I’ve written enough about the school and the process that parents visiting this site will be able to use the search window above right on the page and find the information they need.

 

 

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