As we get closer to my son’s graduation in May, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve learned about The Citadel and being a supportive parent to a cadet in this leadership school. I thought I’d share a few of my insights in the hope that a parent just starting their journey will find these insights helpful.
If you don’t have a Facebook page, get one. Once you are set up, join the group for your cadets battalion. You can find it by searching “Citadel (enter 1st – 5th) Battalion Parents Group.” Also, join the page for “The Citadel External Affairs” for regular campus updates and photos.
The best gift you can give your cadet is to learn as much as you can about the school and the process so you can be an encouraging presence to them. Reading the various sections of the school website is a great start.
Remember, once they are on campus as a first year cadet, or knob, they are not in control of their time. YOU have to defer to THEIR instructions about when and where to meet and what they want to do.
The best gift you can give your cadet before they report is to help them purchase all the items they will need as listed in the Success Packet and Nice to Have lists. The lists are updated each year around May/June. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information. Differ to your cadet on what items they want on the “Nice to Have” list. This may be the hardest lesson for the parents. You must begin to allow your child to make their own decisions.
Encourage your cadet to be fully prepared to report by doing physical training daily before Matriculation Day. If they can meet or exceed the physical training requirements prior to Matriculation Day, they will be better off. Each year they post a Physical Fitness Information packet. Read it thoroughly.
Read the Parent Tips for unofficial advice on preparing to report to Matriculation Day.
Make sure the black leather oxfords, military boots, and athletic shoes are fully broken in prior to Matriculation Day.
Buy thick white socks and black socks. Don’t spend much on the sheets for their bed.
You do not have to mark their clothes/belongings before they arrive. They will learn the system to mark their things after they report.
The best way to learn about the school is read through the website. If you ever have a question about he school and the process, you can always contact the Ombudsperson’s office for a confidential conversation. The Cadet Activities office is very helpful for information about special weekends.
Do not send large boxes of goodies. You can order free boxes from usps.gov - #01096L will fit into their mail box and is the size of a book when they put it in their “Knobbie bag,” a brief case like book bag.
Become familiar with ALL the information on the Office of the Commandant website page. The yearly planning calendar, training schedules, regulations, and a flow chart of the promotions process can be found here.
The big weekends for visits during the year are Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day Weekend and Graduation Weekend. You can learn about the history of each on the web site. Learn the traditions of the school: Alma Mater, Cadet Prayer, Citadel Code, Knob Knowledge, The Ring.
Do not listen to rumors and hearsay. If your cadet does not have first hand knowledge of a situation, do not become worried about a story. If at any time you are concerned about a story, call the Ombudsperson’s office for clarification.
Learn how to read the training schedule and you won’t need to ask as many scheduling questions.
Have your own copy of The Guidon. It will help you learn about what your cadet is going through. You can download it from the website or purchase a copy at the campus bookstore.
The book “In the Company of Men” by Nancy Mace gives you a terrific overview of knob year and the terms you’ll hear from your cadet.
Don’t be in a rush when you visit. The knobs are not in control of their time. Bring a book and just be happy to see them when they can meet you.
The Citadel Family Association (CFA) volunteers are fellow parents. Email or call them for support as you learn the system. They are all parents of cadets who have gone through what you are going through. They can help you understand the system. Each Company/Battalion and Area of the country has a volunteer you can contact.
See the links below for other entires by Dorie Griggs:
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