USNA Parent Survival Guide ~ Plebe Summer
What is Plebe Summer I-day Events USNA Laundry
The Admissions Process Surviving Plebe Summer
How to Prepare Summer Schedule Sponsor Program
What to Pack Care Packages Plebe Poetry
What I Wish I Had Known Plebe Parents Weekend Supportive Pranks

A time of transformation

It has been said that an education at the Academy can be divided into three equal parts. The first third of your USNA experience is the six weeks of Plebe Summer. The second third is your Plebe Year, and the remaining third is the rest of your stay at the Naval Academy. Although Plebe summer is "only" six weeks, it may seem like an eternity for both students and parents! It transforms you and creates lifelong friendships. There is a love/hate relationship with USNA that develops. Some days students are jubilant and some days they fall into despair. Parents follow a similar pattern. Plebe summer is about survival.

You can make it!


What is Plebe Summer?

Plebe summer is a demanding, fast paced boot camp style orientation that begins four years of preparation of Midshipmen for commissioning as naval officers. Physical and mental demands upon the plebes' time seem never ending, but they have a purpose: the development of leadership ability, motivation, moral strength, physical skills and stamina. These are attributes of any outstanding officer in the Navy or Marine Corps.

As the summer progresses, the new midshipmen rapidly assimilate basic skills in seamanship, navigation and signaling. Infantry drill, shooting of 9 mm pistols and M-16 rifles, sailing and handling Yard Patrol craft all contribute to making each midshipman a proudly versatile individual. A rigorous physical conditioning program, including calisthenics, running, pull-ups, sit-ups, swimming, wrestling and boxing takes up only a small part of the daily regimen. Team spirit and the desire to win are developed through competition in activities ranging from athletics to dress parades and seamanship drills.

Plebes also receive instruction and indoctrination in the Brigade of Midshipman's Honor Concept. The character development program stresses that each individual has the moral courage and the desire to do the right thing because it is right, not from a fear of punishment. There will also be additional training for plebes in human relationships and concepts of equal opportunity.

A quote worth remembering during Plebe Summer:
"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"
-Winston Churchill


The Admissions Process

Call admissions regularly and speak with your representative to stay current with your status in the process. You will get to know admissions well. Their website is http://www.usna.edu/Admissions/require.htm and their phone number is: (410) 293-4361.

For some students the process is straightforward and simple. For others this is not the case. Either way there will be an endless stack of paperwork to fill out and medical papers to process. You will begin the paperwork upon acceptance - which may happen as early as November the fall before entering USNA. Some students, however, do not get accepted until the last moment. For them the scurry to finalize paperwork seems insurmountable!

Get your DODMERB physicals done and sent out in plenty of time. Keep copies of everything you send them and everything they send you. Getting an initial rejection from DODMERB is not the end of your eligibility. DODMERB will instruct you in how to appeal their decisions. Follow through with an appeal if you believe you have good cause. Many students have made fine Midshipmen who were rejected by DODMERB the first or second time around. Persistence is an important characteristic.

It cannot be stressed enough that copies of all paperwork should be kept somewhere safe. There are always a significant number of flustered Plebes and their parents who have to prove that they sent in the immunizations or medical waivers. In fact, having several copies of medical exams is prudent. Keep one on file, take one set with you to I-day and mail in the originals as part of your application process. Duplicates can be lifesavers.


How To Prepare

As your student graduates from high school, their friends may be planning a summer of partying or work. This will not be the case in your house! There is little time after finishing high school before you have to head off towards Annapolis. Other than getting paperwork in, your student's preparation will center around what to take and what to leave behind. You will get an official list of things to bring. Don't bother to pack anything else! Plebes are not allowed to keep anything personal. Detailers will pack everything extra and put it away until PPW (Plebe Parents Weekend). The saying goes, "You can arrive stark naked and be fine for Plebe Summer". Plebes get what they need - from socks and underwear to cleaning supplies. Don't worry about that part of the details.

Spend lots of time together. That is the greatest gift for both of you. They will not get positive personal attention again for a long time! In fact they will work hard to get no attention whatsoever. But now, while you can, spoil them some. It's the end of their childhood. They are going away and you will be done with that chapter of your life. After years and years of attending to them day after day, you will no longer be responsible. This comes as a shock to many of us. We are happy and sad. Those final days at home are poignant. Treasure them. Maybe you have already taught them how, but if not, consider teaching them to to iron. They will become very competent before the end of the summer.

When you have a graduation party, what do you suggest to friends as an appropriate gift? Many normal options just don't seem logical - and they are not! Don't give towels or clothing. They just won't need them. Money is always the right size and can be banked until the need arises.....and rest assured, the need will arise. In fact, an iron would be a good graduation present. Another option that you will be glad to have given is a digital camera. They will all have cutting edge computers once the school year begins and they can send you photos eventually. You may be able to have a glimpse of their lives - once they have one again. So giving a digital camera is actually a gift for yourself at the same time as it's a graduation gift for your student. Another item which will come in VERY handy is a civilian passport. They are good for 10 years and your Mid will realy appreciate having one. They travel for both recreation and summer requirement reasons. Overseas cruises can include such locations as Australia, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Israel, England, and many others. They can do summer cruises without a passport, but that will restrict where they can be assigned. A passport will give them many incredible opportunities. Every Mid should have one and getting them at the last minute is a real hassle! (Been there, done that!)

Some gift ideas are:

  • Phone cards
  • Civilian Passport
  • writing paper and stamps (and self-address some of the envelopes if you want a letter!)
  • Digital camera/disposable camera
  • Dustbuster
  • Hot pot
  • A mattress pad
  • Regular pillows and sheets
  • Rolls of quarters
  • Potpourri
  • Desk drawer tray/organizer
  • Religious medal or cross on a sturdy chain
  • Closet sachets
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Luggage locks
  • Old white glove for alpha inspections
  • Mousetraps
  • Travel alarm
  • Miner-style flashlight for reading in bed at night
  • Cool sunglasses
  • Silk long underwear
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Wrist rest /mouse pad
  • Book light
  • Leatherman
  • A watch so they will be on time
  • Feather comforter with cover that can be used as a blanket and sheet all in one or...
  • Sleeping bag for Mids who can't be bothered with making a rack
  • The proverbial "Rubbermaid" type plastic shoebox
  • Flatware, it will get borrowed all the time
  • Dishes, especially big mugs or bowls that can go in the microwave
  • Extra stapler, tape dispenser, pencil holder/sticky note holder for desk
  • Gel candles, the kind that dissolve but you don't light
  • Shoe polish, shaving cream, rasso, shower cleaner
  • Waterproof boot liners or Gor Tex socks ( for sea trials)
  • Gift certificates for massages, pedicures, nails, facials for the gals, movies, plays, concerts, or restaurants for any Mid
  • Binoculars
  • Electric razor
  • Energy bars/ energy drinks
  • Cedar shoe trees
  • Flannel shoe pouches
  • FROGS, those little gold things that cover the pins on the back of name tags and ribbons
  • And the all time favorite.... MONEY!!
  • For what it's worth, don't go nuts and buy all these things before Plebe Summer! Most things brought to I-day will be put away over the summer, but you can pack them into a bag to be brought up over Plebe Parents Weekend. Then they can take the things back to their new room when they move in for Reform. Remember that there are usually three students to a room, so before you run out and get all these items, check with your Plebe and find out whether the other two roomies already have an iron and ironing board, or a hot pot or mousetraps. They don't need three of everything! There are Walmarts and KMarts and Targets etc, in the area. You don't need to buy ahead. But if you want a gift idea for graduation, those are some ideas that parents have collected over the years. Hard to imagine, but it won't be long until you get to LOOK BACK at Plebe Summer!

    To facilitate communications with your soon-to-be Plebe, you might want to hand out postcards to friends and relatives. Preaddress them with your student's name and address which will be sent to you about the middle of June. Other than a few hurried phone calls, the only support you can offer your student during the six weeks of Plebe Summer is through the post office. Consider sending alot of mail. It is treasured by Plebes. Number your envelopes as you send them out. Plebes often receive mail out of order due to the hectic schedule they keep. They might not get anything for days on end and then receive several letters in one day. A numbering system gives them an idea of which one to open first.

    Most Plebes will grow to hate these sneakers. Send your Plebe with their own pair of mostly white sneakers that are comfortable and well broken in.

    Official Plebe issue NB sneaker
    in Mid Store - MX609WT
    photo by Jeanne Rudzki

    Since this is a website for parents, the advice is designed for parents. But the single most important advice for Plebes-to-be is to run every day. EVERY DAY!! As a concerned parent, make sure your student has an extra pair of comfortable MOSTLY WHITE sneakers. The New Balance MX609WT (for 2004) sneaker is the official sneaker they will be issued on I-day. Breaking them in during Plebe Summer may be an issue. Plebes can bring their own pair of mostly white sneakers. Many Plebes have problems with their feet due to the endless miles of running. Having their own pair of comfortable sneakers could be a leg/foot saver. Consider getting them cushioned insoles and send them in a care package. Shin splints turn into stress fractures. Being a "broken Plebe" is not desirable. Running every day before I-day makes the schedule of daily runs during Plebe Summer more bearable so encourage a daily run. You might consider running with your soon to be Plebe! Exercise is a good way to deal with stress and we all have too much of that.

    How does a Plebe prepare for I-day? In a word: RUN. How does a parent prepare for I-day? Enjoy each day. Then give them away. Easier said than done! All incoming plebes should have this memorized verbatim before they walk through the doors of Alumni Hall! Tell them to memorize it and practice saying it out loud, they'll be nervous that day, so they should learn to spit this out in their sleep.

    Mission of the United States Naval Academy
    To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor, and loyalty in order to provide graduates who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future
    development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

    The administrative chain of command:
    President of the United States: President George W. Bush
    Secretary of Defense: Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
    Acting Secretary of Navy: Honorable Hansford T. Johnson
    Chief of Naval Operations: Admiral Vernon Clark, USN
    United States Naval Academy Superintendent: VADM Rodney Rempt, USN
    Commandant of Midshipmen: Colonel John R. Allen, USMC

    First three General Orders of a Sentry:
    First: To take charge of this post and all government property in view.|
    Second: To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
    Third: To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.


    What to Pack

    You can't tuck personal items into their duffle bag. Well, you could, but your student couldn't keep them if you did, so don't bother. They should be packing one simple bag with only recommended items. Save them the trouble of saying, "no" to extra stuff. Since there are some things they might need, pack them in a separate box and send them to USNA before I-day. It can be their first care package. Besides a few treats such as granola bars or dried fruit, you might pack some cushioned insoles for their sneakers or a small flashlight so they can read their mail after taps. Many students get heat rash so sending some Gold Bond (or other brand name) anti-chaffing powder would be a good idea. Include the extra (predominately white) sneakers that your Plebe got and broke in prior to I-day. Anything you send is subject to confiscation. Some companies allow things that other companies don't. Since you won't know exactly what's allowed, pack reasonable things anyway and hope for the best. Don't send over-the-counter medications. They're not permitted by any of the companies.

    The USNA.edu website has posted the information packet mailed to each candidate prior to I-day. To review the official Plebe Packet Information, click here.


    What I wish I had known before Plebe Summer

    These are recommendations from parents over the years:

    Scholarship money can be applied not only to the incoming fee but also to the loan which is automatically taken out to cover computer, uniforms etc. (That is if the scholarship can be used that way according to their conditions.) I would have had my son applying for a lot more scholarships so his loan would not have been as large.

    Contact your local parent's club. They really are a great resource to have nearby. Having a child at a military academy is not anything like heading off to State U!

    Please advise your Plebes to: 1. Guard against infections by NOT handling/sharing others' eating and drinking or hygiene utensils/facilities. THE #1 precaution is to wash hands at every possible opportunity! 2. Take a daily round of preventative vitamins (REALLY!) and drink water constantly. Waiting until you are thirsty will guarantee dehydration and the onset of
    immune weakness. 3. REST whenever, wherever possible. Remember the sailors'/soldiers' FIRST rule of maintaining stamina for the sake of survival -- "Don't run if you are allowed to walk; don't walk if allowed to ride; don't stand if allowed to sit; don't sit if allowed to lie down." (BTW, the second rule is "Never miss any opportunity to keep your mouth
    shut." That is definitely another Plebe survival technique.) Equip your Plebe with all the necessary OTC meds you can get away with, and make him/her promise to utilize the health professionals BEFORE a negative condition (from foot blisters to sore throat) is out of control. It is not weakness, nor will it been seen as such if, in all cases, your Plebe is honest and genuinely putting out 100% effort.

    Now is a good time to send in a request to your Senator who nominated your Plebe-to-be for a US Flag to be flown over the capital on I-Day. Give them the details of the occasion and you may receive the flag in due course with a nice letter something along the lines of "...on the occasion of XX XX's induction into the United States Naval Academy...." Very nice to have and fly when your personal fleet is in!

    Get a personal 800 number. They are really not very expensive - and it is a lot easier - and takes a lot less time - to just dial an 800 number than it is to have to key in all the numbers on one of those calling cards. The calling cards are great, but they do take time to use. Same thing for collect calls. They take a lot of time and eat away at the precious amount of time you have to speak to your Plebe. There are a several companies that can be found with an on-line search.

    Send LOTS of care packages, microwavable foods with a washable microwave bowl or dinners that don't need to be refrigerated that come in their own microwave container. Disposable utensils. Pocket money never goes out of style. They have to use their own money for non-issued items at the mid store. The Drydock Restaurant (410-293-2873) can tell you when there is not mandatory meal at Kings Hall and make pizzas for your mid and put it on your charge card. Of course this is all after plebe summer. During plebe summer, breakfast bars, things that can be eaten quickly. Send lots of upbeat cards and letters (especially during plebe summer, I sent almost everyday ). Nothing worse than an empty mailbox. Don't hesitate to ask upper classmen's parents for advice, they have been through it all!

    Plebes to be: The way you handle yourself amongst your peers during plebe summer makes a lasting impression. Make sure you participate in everything to your fullest extent -- don't find excuses for getting out of physical activities. It's no problem if you get sick or injured to miss out on an activity -- but slackers are not cut any slack amongst your peers. You don't have to finish 1st or be the fastest to gain respect -- you just have to give 100%. Respect starts first with your fellow plebes -- and second with the detailers. Have fun during plebe summer. Yes its work and you do have frustrating times but if you can keep your detailers laughing (or at least smiling) the experience will be easier on you.

    Plebe summer begins the minute they enter the doors of Alumni Hall on I-day. So be prepared mentally. The other thing
    that people say again and again was that it (plebe summer) is not personal. They were right. If there has to be a choice between going to I-day or to Parents Weekend, definitely pick the latter!

    DO NOT MISS PARENT'S WEEKEND! I cannot count how many times I was grateful that we were able to be there when I saw mids without family! If there are "orphans" in your Mid's company that don't have anyone there, invite them along! The more the MERRIER! Extra Mids are an asset. You will hear more stories with extras around.

    Another hint: put a small American flag (the type you can have on your desk), mole skin, foot powder, self-addressed envelopes, pre-stamped postcards, stamps and an address book containing family and friends addresses in the first care package that you drop off or mail to them. You might want to pack all this in a small plastic container (like the size of a shoe box) that they can use for storage. A mutiny can be "suspected" if more Plebes than racks (beds) are in a room.
    The charge of mutiny can be waylaid if an American flag is displayed in the room. Also, when we had our Mid's going away party, I had an address book and passed it around for his friends to write down their information. He says it was very handy.

    Above all else, Plebe Parents, please try to trust the system. They have worked it out so that there is a balance between hard-hitting standards and heart-felt guidance. It's the only way to take an American teenager and turn them into a world-class military leader in just four short years, not just so they survive, but so they THRIVE in the fabulous environment that is the Navy Family.


    I-Day Events

    It is highly recommended that those of you going to I Day have four things with you at all times: water bottles, sunscreen, umbrellas and comfortable shoes.

    No one can possibly prepare you for the heat and humidity in Annapolis in late June, and although there will be water stations scattered around the academy grounds (commonly called the Yard), you should have your own bottles with you. And you will spend almost the entire day outdoors; there is little shade and the sun by the water can be fierce! There are often many, many sunburned parents desperately huddled under the one tent available during the lunchtime picnic. Annapolis is famous for its fierce squalls which arrive almost without and depart just as quickly. Many of us have gotten soaked over the years. The rain cooled us, but did little for our appearances. If you add the aftereffects of the rain to the perspiration and tears, we must have been visions to our Mids when they finally saw us again after the official Induction ceremony at 6 pm! Finally, you will walk from one end of the yard to the other, probably into town and back a couple times. Heat and humidity wreak havoc on feet, therefore comfortable shoes are a must. Be as kind to yourselves as you are being to your Mids. Your children are somewhat prepared for the rigors of I Day. You should be also!

    SAMPLE I-DAY SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

    6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Drydock restaurant open in Dahlgren Hall
    8 a.m. Colors Ceremony Tecumseh Court
    7 - 08:30 a.m. Band Concert Outside Alumni Hall
    10:45 - 12:45 p.m. Picnic Lunch on Hospital Point (Free to family/friends)
    1:45 - 2:30 p.m. Band Concert Alumni Hall
    2:30 - 3:40 p.m. Parents' Briefing Alumni Hall

    Superintendent Welcome aboard & remarks
    6 p.m. Oath of Office Ceremony Tecumseh Court
    followed by 15 minutes of free time to meet family on Stribling Walk.
    In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in Halsey Field House.


    The first day of Plebe Summer, Induction Day (I-Day), begins as prospective plebes report to the Academy's Alumni Hall. There will be tents with information about USNA Foundation or USNA Alumni Association. There are long lines of Plebes and their families. Talk to folks and introduce yourself around. When your turn comes, hug your student good-bye and watch them as they walk proudly through the doors and disappear. You will be surrounded by other families who are in the process of saying good-bye too. Take pictures of the whole process or as much of it as you can manage. You will look back on this day as a significant day of transformation in your life as well as the life of your Plebe.

    You may wonder what to do next. Many families walk around behind Alumni Hall and stand for hours watching through the windows for glimpses of their Plebe being processed. As the morning progresses, groups of Plebes in brand new uniforms form up in the bays under Alumni Hall. Then buses come and the newly minted Plebes file rigidly onto their bus, looking neither right nor left. Your Plebe is not permitted to acknowledge you even if they see you! You may never even see your Plebe exit the building. Some Plebes take longer than others to process and sometimes parents don't recognize their Plebe when they do reappear!

    When you get tired of waiting around, find something else interesting to do. There's nothing you can do for them. You might as well have a good day yourself. Visit the Mid Store. Many other parents will be in the Mid Store purchasing the begining of a growing Navy wardrobe. Try to remember that it is not the blue and gold clothing that makes you an avid Navy fan. In fact it is undoubtedly (mind you I don't know this from personal experience!) possible to survive without the endless color coordinated clothing. Take a tour of the Yard. Go see a museum. Don't worry about your Plebe. They will be very busy all day. Make sure you are busy as well.

    There is a “Welcome Aboard” Family Picnic at Forrest Sherman Field on Hospital Point (at the base of the footbridge) from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (or in Dahlgren Hall if the weather doesn't cooperate). The Alumni Association and the USNA Foundation will be hosting the picnic as a way of welcoming new Plebe parents into the Naval Academy family. Plan to have lunch at Hospital Point. A light lunch, soda and snacks will be served. The Superintendent, Commandant and other USNA staff will be there to chat with parents. The Alumni Association staff, Foundation staff and representatives from several parents’ clubs are there to answer questions and concerns. USNA Parents plans to have a table to meet and greet incoming parents as well. Stop by and introduce yourself. We look forward to meeting you!

    At 6 pm, Plebes assemble in front of Bancroft for the oath of office ceremony. The crowd is heavy so if you want to sit up front, get there early. The ceremony is fairly brief but poignant. The Plebes pledge to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which (they) are about to enter." You probably won't find your Plebe in the mass of identical looking students lined up stiffly facing forward. Cheer them all. Your Plebe is in there somewhere. There's a powerful flyby of the Blue Angels in recognition of the significance of the event.

    Finally the Plebes are dismissed for their final few moment with you. Go down Stribling Walk which is directly in front of Bancroft, and stand under the post that bears the first initial of your child's last name. You will meet your Plebe there. Have a cold drink and a snack for them and any buddies you are playing surrogate to. A cell phone for last calls is appreciated. They will glance repeatedly at their watches to make sure they are not late to reform. They may already have stories to tell, or perhaps they don't want to share anything. Just remind them of how important they are and wish them well. They have stepped into the military world. Cheer them on and tell them you love them! When it's time to go, give them a last hug and try not to cry. Undoubtedly, if you are the crying type, they won't be surprised to see tears. But these are tears of pride and joy as well as parting and sorrow. Such a strange mix of emotions. For them too. It's a day of change.

    When they go off to reform into their platoons and march off into Bancroft, follow them. You can watch and take even more pictures. It will be a comfort to you to have these photos later on! Then, go home....or back to your hotel anyway. The events of the day are over and other than an occasional rushed phone call or a short scribbled letter, you will not hear from them again until PPW. You are done with your job of raising an incredible young adult. You can be rightly proud.

    FACILITIES/SERVICES

    The following facilities and services are available at the Naval Academy for the families and friends.

    Naval Academy Museum Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Location: Preble Hall
    Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Location: Next to Halsey Field House
    Library Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Location: Nimitz Library
    Chapel and Crypt: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. John Paul Jones Location: Crypt beneath Chapel Dome
    Drydock Restaurant: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Location: Dahlgren Hall

    Plebes are assigned to military units comprising the Fourth Class Regiment. The regiment consists of two battalions, Port and Starboard. The Starboard Battalion has eight companies and the Port Battalion has seven. Each company has two numbered platoons. Each platoon has four squads with about 10-12 plebes per squad.


    Surviving Plebe Summer

    A general outline of activities for PS is linked here. Don't be intimidated by the abreviations! Just refer to the translation list and you will get an idea of what their schedule for the summer will be.

    For many parents, Plebe Summer is their first real break in parenting. When your Plebe swore their oath at induction, they ceased to be legally yours. Now there's a hard concept for mothers! Plebes belong to the US Navy. Plebe Summer is boot camp and it's designed to break them down. It seems to break parents down too. It has the emotional feel of amputation. Your child is gone. You can't call them. They are hurting and you can't do anything about it. You write them letters. You send out those care packages and in between you may find yourself glued to your computer looking for more information about what they are going through. You read everything about USNA and you worry about whether anybody will care about your child. It is not like sending your kid away to college! Kids who go off to college can call home when they want. They can come hometo visit whenever they get homesick. Plebes can't. They are stuck and you are too! It can feel really awful. Make friends on the listserve. It will be a real lifesaver throughout the summer.

    You will receive a call schedule when you return from I-day. Plebes can make 3 minute phone calls a couple times over the summer. They will sound hoarse. Someone will be screaming their remaining seconds in their other ear. You have to sound positive and encouraging and manage to do so despite any misgivings you may have. But it will be wonderful to hear from them. You may find yourself waiting hours for the scheduled call and then not getting it til the next day. Waiting for those phone calls can disrupt your entire schedule, but how sweet it is to hear their voices! Try to find something funny or interesting to share with them. Don't ask them too many questions. Just listen to them and tell them you love them and can't wait to see them. Remind them that they are winners. Tell them that you are proud of them. Be positive! They really are wonderful. They need to hear it. You will be the only one in their lives who is telling them that.

    Plebes can write home. They often write very cryptic notes on small tablets of paper. They may make a care package request. When they ask for crosscut tennis balls or extra blue rims and you don't have any clue what they are talking about, post a note on the listserve. That's what we are here for! They will talk in a different language and you may need to brush up on your Navy lingo. There's a glossary linked to the home page and feel free to suggest a new entry if you hear something that's not listed. Oh, and crosscut tennis balls are old tennis balls with an X cut in them to go over the legs of chairs so the buffed floor stays unmarked. Blue rims are their white t-shirts (well, they start out white) with navy blue collars and cuffs. You can order extras from the Mid Store.

    You may get a letter of desperation sometime during the summer. Almost all Plebes experience days of total despair. They are sure they can't do it anymore. They are sick. They are hoarse. They are exhausted. They are hungry and they are tired of being yelled at. Believe it or not, this is normal! They can do it. They will do it. But they need encouragement. That's our job as parents. Nobody said it would be easy for us either and it's not. Seek support for yourself among the many listserve parents. There are loads of others who know just what you are going through. When your Plebe sounds miserable, remember to take the long view. As the Plebes are fond of saying, "They can't kill you and they can't stop the clock." Plebe summer is only six weeks. It will end.

    The Alpha Company "Letter" is the Alphabetic Company Letter used for Plebe Summer ONLY! It's a little confusing that the first Alpha(betic) Company is Company Alpha for Comapny A the first letter in the Alphabet. There are 15 Alpha(betic) Companies in Plebe Summer with approx. 80 mids/ Alpha(betic) Company i.e. 1200 mids Each Alpha(betic) Company is made up of 2 Platoons i.e. 40 mids and there are 4 squads i.e. approx. 10 mids/squad. NOTE: Company J for Juliet is skipped.

    Co Letters
    Co/Pl Numbers
    Co. in the Fall
    Alpha (A)
    A1 A2
    1, 2
    Bravo (B)
    B3 B4
    3, 4
    Charlie (C)
    C5 C6
    5, 6
    Delta (D)
    D7 D8
    7, 8
    Echo (E)
    E9 E10
    9,10
    Foxtrot (F)
    F11 F12
    11,12
    Golf
    G13 G14
    13,14
    Hotel
    H15 H16
    15,16
    India
    I17 I18
    17,18
    Juliet
    ----

    ----

    Kilo
    K19 K20
    19,20
    Lima
    L21 L22
    21,22
    Mike
    M23 M24
    23,24
    November
    N25 N26
    25,26
    Oscar
    O27 O28
    27,28
    Papa
    P29 P30
    29,30
    Tango
    Tango Company; it's on the way OUT

     

     

    Sample Schedule

    6:00 - 7:30 a.m.
    7:30 - 8:45 a.m.
    8:45 - 11:45 a.m.
    11:45 - 12:00 p.m.
    12:00 - 12:50 p.m.
    1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
    4:00 - 5:50 p.m.
    6:00 - 6:50 p.m.
    7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
    9:10 - 9:30 p.m.
    9:30 - 9:45 p.m.
    10:00 p.m. Physical Training
    Personal Time
    Counsel Time
    Taps / Lights Out


    Plebe Care Packages

    Part of the process of Plebe Summer is to create a cohesive group mentality. When you send goodies, send extra. Plebes share their bounty whatever they get, so make sure you send enough so that yours will get some after the sharing is done! So, plan accordingly. While your Plebe won't be eating all of his care package, you can rest assured that they will make it up by consuming their platoon mates care packages. Plebes are constantly busy and may write home that they are hungry all the time. There is plenty of food served to them in King Hall, but sometimes they are so busy they can't take the time to eat. Send care packages as a morale booster, but don't worry too much about their calorie intake. They will survive. Occasionally here are Plebes who actually put on weight over the summer!

    Some parents send a weekly care package over the summer. Others send them more sporadically. Perhaps in the few weeks before I-day, you could make up care packages with your Plebe-to-be. They might like to think about what they will want to get. Let them help with the selection of treats. Leave each box open and add to them as the mood strikes, but you will have a basic care package ready to mail out each week. You will not know what is acceptable in your Plebe's company until several weeks have passed. Generally, food is a safe bet. Cutsey things can be an embarrassment. Don't send stuffed animals. Your Plebe will be ridiculed in front of their platoon. If they have a birthday, plan to celebrate some other time. Stay functional in your care packages, cough drops are a big hit in every package! Some other things to include might be:

    White chalk - to cover marks on their uniforms
    White-Out- to paint on their shoes and cover scuff marks
    Shout Wipes- to clean up spills and stains on their uniform
    Foot powder (Tinactin) - their feet get heavy use!
    Febreze - everything stinks after awhile, this helps
    Juice boxes
    Bandaids
    Spray sunscreen (saves time)
    pictures of "real life"
    Cartoons
    Breath mints

    Bancroft Hall has mice. Any food in the rooms needs to be kept in hard plastic containers. You might pack the first care package in a shoe box sized plastic container to protect the goodies and any future treats you will be sending. Don't send sugary candy - It will be confiscated. Any treats should be on the nutritious side. And don't send fresh fruit. They get plenty of fruit in King Hall. Furthermore, since packages can sit in the mail room for days on end and the weather is famous for heat and humidity, fresh fruit will spoil.

    About mid June, you will receive your Plebe-to-be's address in a letter from the Officer in Charge of the Fourth Class Regiment. It will look like this:

    MIDN FirstName LastName
    Class of 2006     * Company    * Platoon
    P.O. Box *****
    Annapolis, MD 21412-*****

    Use this address through Plebe Summer and then drop the Platoon number and change the Company letter designation to the appropriate number. During the summer, they are in lettered companies. When the brigade reforms in August, their platoon number becomes their company number. They keep the same box number throughout their four years at USNA. While they will move from one wing to another, and even change companies, they maintain their same box number. If you don't include their P.O. box number, the post office will return your letter.


    Plebe Parents Weekend


    PAO Description of PPW
    Sample PPW Schedule

    At the end of the sixth week of Plebe Summer, Parents' Weekend begins. Approximately 5,000 family members and friends are expected to visit during this three-day weekend. Parents can choose to sail with the midshipmen, watch a dress parade and sports exhibitions, dine in King Hall (where all 4,000 midshipmen eat their meals at the same time during the academic year) and meet with faculty and staff members of the academy.

    If you can get there early in the morning on Friday, you will be able to watch them go through their calisthenics as the sun rises. One of the remarkable experiences of the early morning PEP demonstration is their arrival onto the field. The Plebes start out running around the field. They pass in waves and you will hear the pounding of their feet before you see them arrive. As they pass, you will be hit with the aroma of full strength stale sweat wafting by . They smell bad! They are dirty! And they are incredibly happy to have survived. For once, they are met with enthusiastic crowds of well-wishers. This is not their average morning PEP experience! The stands are full of cheering families and nobody is happier than the Plebes themselves, to have made it through.

    PPW is a great relief to Plebes and their families. They have been through the wringer and finally, they are released. Some Plebes spend the entire weekend asleep. Others are so happy to be off the yard that they can't stop. They go from one treat to the next with boundless enthusiasm for the "outside world". Since each Plebe reacts differently, don't plan the whole weekend ahead of time. Schedule a few activities but stay flexible, adding or subtracting as necessary. The Annapolis Mall will be FULL of Plebes wandering around gawking at the normalcy of it all. Take your cues from your Plebe. Do what is right for their energy level. Plebes are required to stay within a 22-mile radius of the yard. Plan accordingly! For a map of where they can go, click here.

    Take the opportunity to make dinner plans with some of the folks you have met on the listserve over Plebe Summer. You will have made friends and now you get to meet them! This is networking time and don't miss the opportunity to rub elbows with people you know best by their email address.

    Your Plebe may want to arrange to get together with some of their friends' families too. Extend an invitation to any of your Plebe's friends to join you. If your Plebe's friends don't have family in town for PPW, just tuck them under your wing and include them. It is an incredible experience to sit around with your newly minted Mid and listen to their stories. With an extra Mid around, the stories increase exponentially. What stories you will hear! They will laugh about Plebe Summer. Don't remind them of the hard parts. They will make it sound like they had a great time. Just smile and nod. You wouldn't want it any other way.

    Since Plebes will be getting their computers shortly after PPW, and they do not come with a personal printer, consider getting your student one at the Mid Store. Bringing one from home is fine too. If you get a non Mid Store printer, check to see if the Mid Store sells print cartridges and if not, be sure to send extra during the year. Another popular item is a fan. Buy one at home if you can because the Mid Store sells out of electric fans early in the day. Plebes survive PS without any cooling breezes, but fans are popular as soon as they are allowed. Each Plebe room has a phone jack, but one of the roomies has to provide the actual phone. If you have an extra one, pack it in your luggage. Some rooms end up with three phones and some rooms have none. Again, they share. You might check ahead, but students change rooms and roommates going into the academic year and they won't necessarily know ahead of time.


    USNA Laundry

    All Mids have access to the laundry services at USNA. The clothes go out one day of the week varying by year, and are returned a couple days later. It is ESSENTIAL that every Mid has their alpha code on EVERY piece of clothing. Since there are so many Mids all with the same uniforms, only the alpha numbers will keep them straight. They go out in laundry bags also tagged with their number. Most are returned promptly. Some disappear. Every Mid has laundry stories. Frequently Mids take their laundry to their sponsor parents house or to a commercial laundramat.

    Here are some stain suggestions - All those white uniforms draw stains from time to time.

    Gum out of summer whites.
    Freezing the uniform with ice and picking off the gum, tends to grind the gum deep into the polyester fabric. Peanut butter to be the most intriguing and successful method to remove gum.Leave the peanut butter on about 10 minutes, rub it some and you end up with a big brown stain around the colored gum. This can be un-nerving, but apparently the oil in the peanut butter dissolves the gum, and both the gum and stain comes out. The uniform will be left with an oily mark, which can be removed by applying liquid dish detergent and giving it a quick rub before a second washing. You won't be able to tell where the spot from the gum was afterwards! I call that an unqualified success.

    Other suggestions for gum and stain removal included:
    -petroleum-based spot-removal solvents
    -D-Solv-It, which gets out grease, gum, grass stains etc on uniforms and
    - Zout, which got just about everything else.
    -lighter fluid
    -spray and stick-based laundry spot removal products
    -citrus-based cleaning products
    -oil-based cleaning products
    -automotive hand cleaner
    -oil-based skin product known for use as an insect repellent
    -taking it to the dry cleaner's if all else fails

    Other suggestions for grease and mildew removal included:
    -paste of oxygenated bleach
    -hydrogen peroxide
    -avoid using bleach on the polyester summer whites, as it yellows them

    When it comes to ball point ink stains, hairspray or rubbing alcohol also work well. Be sure to put plain white paper towels beneath the stained part of the fabric, put hairspray OR rubbing alcohol (only one or the other, NOT both)
    on a plain white paper towel or rag, and dab (don't rub) at the stain. Be sure to change the paper towels and rag as needed to avoid spreading the stain. Then wash the garment as usual after using a stain pre-wash treatment.

    On Plebe Parent Weekend, or in the following years, you may be faced with uniforms that need special attention. These suggestions are meant as a starting place for your own creativity when dealing with such problems.


    Brigade Trials


    For years there has been a tradition of "Sea Trials" at the end of Plebe Year. Recently, a similar event began at the end of Plebe Summer called Brigade Trials. It is a last trial of the summer starting at 4:30 am and consisting of five different phases of activities. Their climbing, agility and teamwork is tested on the HUGE climbing wall. A tactical assault phase is held at Hospital Point. A water phase is held at Lejeune Hall. Lawrence Field is home to the grueling combat conditioning phase where plebes worked together to conquer various obstacles. The fifth phase of Brigade Trials consisted of a rifle march, a phase truly unique to this event. The day culminated in a formal personnel inspection in summer whites followed by the festivities of the class mess night. Altogether it is an exhausting and team building day that Plebes remember with pride.

    Brigade Trials occurs after Plebe Parent Weekend and just before the return of the Brigade. It brings closure to their summers experience. It is the culmination of weeks of labor and the source of new and remarkable stories. Parents who live nearby can visit and watch the various stages of the day. It's always amazing to see what Mids can endure and come up begging for more. They end up dirty, sore exhausted and solidly part of a team. For most Mids, this is a great day.


    Sponsor Program

    Sponsors are families or sometimes, individuals within the Annapolis community willing to give your Plebe a "home away from home." Sponsors are assigned by the Academy to Plebes who are interested. It can be a really great program and it gives your Mid a break from life on the Yard. Your Plebe will appreciate having an opportunity to leave the Yard occasionally and stay somewhere that a radio, television, phone and food are readily available. Sponsors are wonderful, generous people and become treasured friends! A Sponsor Family can provide relief and help not only for your Mid, but also for us Plebe parents. Many a sponsor Mom has taken special gifts in to a sick Plebe when we wish it was within our capability to do so. It is appropriate to remember your Mids sponsor with a small gift and occasional notes of appreciation. Sometimes a Plebe doesn't connect with his/her sponsor and requests another sponsor. Your Plebe might adopt the sponsor of a friend or roommate. However your Plebe gets a sponsor, it is a relaionship that is often treasured by the Mid and the sponsor and may last well beyond graduation.


    The Plebe
    Tho' you think you're tough and hard
    On the day you hit the yard
    You soon find the Navy life's not what you thought it.
    First they shave off all your hair,
    Strip your pride, leave you bare,
    And there's a sickness called self-doubt; you just caught it.
    So it's a bulkhead not a wall,
    A companionway not a hall,
    And a rack is now what used to be a bed,
    And "Reef Points" is your bible.
    But it's more'n likely liable
    They'll only ask you the parts you haven't read.
    For it's Chop! Chop! Chop
    "Where's my Brasso? Get the mop!"
    Life's a livn' hell when you're a Plebe.
    They herd you around like sheep
    Yet there's lots of time for sleep
    If you can figure out how to do it standin' up.
    "No excuse, sir" or "I'll find out,"
    Your confidence is in full rout.
    And you feel you're three ranks lower'n a mongrel pup.
    Plebe summer's bad; but just the start.
    You can't know they saved the part
    That'll make you doubt if you've got the guts to face four years.
    Tours, demerits, and getting fried
    Test your heart, your soul, your hide.
    And the closest you get to salt water is your tears.
    And it's regs, regs, regs
    You're a maggot with arms and legs
    Life's a living hell when you're a Plebe.
    "Push it up, suck it in,
    Pop that chest, hide that chin!"
    And no-one gives a damn when you feel cruddy.
    But miss one little rate;
    You'll learn what they mean to hate.
    And don't expect they care there's no time to study.
    Tho' they did their best to break me,
    In the end they couldn't make me
    Pack it in: I stayed tru-blue Navy to the core.
    Now every flamin' Upper Class
    Stand aside and let me pass,
    'Cause it's Herndon and there ain't no Plebes no more.
    Yes, it's a name to grow to hate
    But let me tell you mate,
    It takes a hell of a lot of guts to be a Plebe.