Each year for the past five years I’ve posted a group to support parents of incoming knobs at The Citadel. It is now time to announce the group for parents of the Class of 2021, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2021
Please note the parent groups by class are for the parents/guardians of the incoming cadet recruit (they aren’t cadets until Parents Weekend). While I understand there are family members who are very proud, the groups are limited to the parents only. Family members can follow the school via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat(TheCitadel1842), YouTube, Instagram, and Periscope.
The Citadel Family Association and the Parents page on the school web site are both great resources. Their web sites are accessible to anyone. The page for Freshman Parents features a series of helpful pages linked on the left hand side of the page (when accessed via computer). I highly recommend parents and their high school senior read through the Important Conversation page and watch the video there.
In the weeks and months to come I’ll post additional information and links geared towards new families. Be sure to send me an email or private message via Facebook after you request to join the group for 2021 parents. I verify each request to join the group to make sure only parents and guardians are accepted. Receiving an email makes the approval process go quicker. My email address is: Dorie at dorielgriggs dot com
Once a parent is accepted to the group they are asked to read and acknowledge the post pinned to the top of the page which outlines the basic ground rules for membership in the group.
A note about social media and cadets: It is best to tighten up the security of all social media platforms. Knobs should keep a low profile until their Recognition Day, the day the 4th Class system ends and they become full members of the Corps of Cadets. In addition to security settings an incoming knob should not use any Citadel related hashtags nor should they post photos wearing Citadel apparel.
If you are in a position to be a sponsor, participant, or volunteer, please contact the leadership of the tournament and share this post in your circles. The tournament takes place after Spring semester ends so cadets can participate and/or volunteer as well. Registration opens this week. Late entry fees begin April 16.
The following promotion information was posted to the parent groups on Facebook:
The Citadel Club of Charleston is the owner and host of The Lowcountry Open; a Charleston-based offshore, nearshore and inshore fishing tournament.
Many committee members are directly connected to military services throughout the Lowcountry, the board unanimously agreed the charitable proceeds should benefit veterans. Palmetto Warrior Connection based in Charleston is the title charity for the event. 95% of charitable contributions to the Palmetto Warrior Connection goes to support veterans within South Carolina.
We trust the sponsors will feel equally honored to help make this tournament a success!
If you would like information about tournament sponsorship opportunities, or know someone who would be interested, please contact the Tournament Chairman: Ty Holland, ’95: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winter furlough begins today for cadets at The Citadel. A time to celebrate to be sure.
Some will be thrilled with the grades their cadet achieved this semester. Others will not have fared that well and you’ll most likely have questions. The notes and links below should answer most of your questions. The links below will also bring you to the pages to find contact information for the appropriate person or department to address your questions. While this advice is manly for first year families, parents of cadets in all years may find the links helpful
If your cadet needs academic support they should see the Academic Support Center the beginning of second semester. If the grades were really not up to standard, your cadet will need to communicate with their academic adviser and possibly the Dean. This page for Academic Advising FAQs may help answer a few questions.
If you or your cadet will need to contact someone on campus, be aware the offices are closed from Dec. 22 – Jan. 2. See this press release for Winter Furlough Hours of Operation
Throughout the year if you have a question about something on campus and you aren’t sure who to talk to on campus, you can ask a few people.
If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll already know this next bit of information. As I mentioned in this post from 2012, the beginning of second semester is tough for all cadets, knobs to seniors. They’ve just spent close to a month at home visiting with family and friends. Coming back to cadet life, getting up early, PT in the cold dark days of winter, is a tough reality.
For parents of knobs, if your son or daughter hasn’t questions their decision to attend The Citadel before, January and February are the months you may field that call. If you do get “the call” remind them that they are stronger than they think they are, encourage them to talk to their classmates. Once they talk to their classmates and other friends in the Corps they will realize they are not alone. It’s still tough but they will get through it. Remind them that Recognition Day is not too far off, March 17, this year.
This experience is so common the cadets have a name for it, the PG version is F’d up February. It is also tough when their friends decide for a variety of reasons not to return.
If you are a family with a student who has decided to leave The Citadel, I wish you and your student the best in their next endeavors.
My best wishes to all The Citadel cadets and families this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah-Chanukah, Happy New Year!!
Long time followers of my blog will know I have not been updating here as often as in previous years. You see, I’ve been debating whether it’s really been helpful, or if my blog posts interfere with what The Citadel administration wants to do now that they have a parent liaison in the Provost office who updates the Parent page on the school website.
To put to rest any questions I wrote to Captain Taylor Skardon to ask what he would like me to do. I offered to pass long the parent Facebook groups that I administer and to refer all parent questions to the Citadel Family Association and to Capt. Skardon.
On Friday, Dec. 2, I met with Capt Skardon, Shamus Gillen of the admissions office and the Citadel Family Association staff liaison and two officers of the CFA. At that meeting I was asked to be the new Area Rep Coordinator for the CFA. The area rep position can be filled by the parent of a graduate, unlike the company and battalion reps. While the details of how this will proceed are still being worked out, I will now be an official volunteer with the school, in addition to already being the Parent Committee chair of the Atlanta Citadel Club. The basic idea is to have a working relationship to bridge The Citadel Family Association with local alumni clubs and the Citadel Alumni Association. In the months ahead more information will become available about how to get involved.
Bottomline, I will now proceed with official approval.
Last Spring a group of Citadel moms decided it would be fun to put together a cookbook and sell it to benefit one of the ring funds through The Citadel Foundation. The result of this volunteer effort is the “Della Delights” cookbook.
There are less than 100 cookbooks left to sell. Once they are sold and the final accounting is done a check will be donated through the foundation to one of the funds that provides assistance in getting a ring. Amy Bulger, an India Company, ’16 mom is handling the sales. She posted the following to Facebook:
“We have only 100 Della Delight cookbooks left to sell!
My guarantee to you is to have them turned around within 24 hrs of payment received.
The following liquidation specials remain in effect until all books are gone.
1 cookbook: $15
3 cookbooks: $40
5 cookbooks: $50
Shipping 1-5 books $6.80
I will be on Campus inside the front of the bookstore from 9AM-4PM (or until all books are gone) Jan 13, 2017.
Just a little background if this is your first time reading about the cookbook.
It was the brainchild of a number of Citadel moms who wanted to raise money for the Ring Fund, a foundation that helps Seniors, who could not otherwise afford it, the ability to wear “The Ring”
All profits from the sales will be donated anonymously, per the Funds request.
You can send payment to Amy Bulger via PayPal at Baseballgirl66@hotmail.com
Or checks can be sent directly to Amy at:
8250 Persia Way
Nashville TN 37211
My phone number is 803.412.8550 if you have any questions.
Mom and Della of Cadet Of India 2016
Let’s get these cookbooks sold and the funds donated!”
Parents, you won’t want to hear this, but you’ll never get it all right. No knob ever does anything right. As parents you can only do your best to get what is on the lists and then as the song goes, “Let it Go!”
I have not been a knob. I have however watched each year as parents sweat over the Success Packet list and the Nice to Have List. I get it. I really do. You want to do what you can to make sure your son or daughter has what they need to succeed. The secret is, if you’ve done your job as a parent, regardless of whether they have the right plastic bins and other items, your son or daughter has the strength and confidence to handle what will come their way.
The Citadel is a leadership school. The students attend this school because they expect to be challenged. They know, or should know, they are expected to own their successes and learn from their failures. You’ve given them a firm foundation to launch into their adult years. It is your time to step back and let them take control of their life.
If you wonder if they should bring something, ask your student if they want it. If they don’t leave it at home. While the school does issue lists and some things are permitted like coffee maker, computer printer, some basic snacks, some knobs do not want to have them. It should be their decision, not your as to whether they bring them or not. Families with friends that are current cadets, you’ll get advice from those friends but remember they will speak from their experience. While uniformity is more of the norm the cadets do develop their own preferences of what to bring and how to do their tasks. For instance if you ask five people whether they should bring a printer you’ll get five different answers.
The 4th Class system will teach the knobs to pull together as a team. They will make their own decisions. They will face the consequences of their actions or inaction. You cannot do this for them and you should not try.
You can be their sounding board. Listen to them vent, but don’t get caught up in the ups and downs of knob life. Remind them of their strengths. Remind them that they are prepared to meet the challenge. You can remind them to think through the processes to solve their own problems. It is a tough year, but they, and you, will have plenty of support.
Last week the Summerville Citadel Club hosted a send off dinner for the class of 2020. One of the members who is a graduate and the father of a 2019 cadet invited me to be on a panel for the dinner. While I’ve spoken at the Atlanta area send off dinners, this is the first time an alumni group outside of Atlanta has invited me to address parents at their club. It was a high compliment.
It was a fun visit. Thursday afternoon I stopped by campus to say hello to a few friends and met a few people I only knew by name before. It was a fun couple of hours.
Thursday evening I was on a panel with Col. Robert Pickering, Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services and International Studies and Ombudsperson, and Lt. Col. Bob Sberna, assistant commandant for discipline. We each took a few minutes to give our background and then share a bit of advice, followed by questions
The moderator asked me to address social media during my time with the microphone. It is an aspect of knob year, and cadet life that didn’t need to be addressed just a few years ago. With Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Tinder, and others the cadets now have multiple ways to make bad decisions.
Before a student begins knob year it is best to tighten up the security on all social media. This is good advice for everyone. For entering knobs who want to keep a low profile and be a “Ghost knob” it is essential. Cadets and alumni will find posts with hashtags related to The Citadel and share the posts. Photos, status updates and more that are public will be shared widely.
You can’t always help what someone may find when searching the internet for your name, but it is a good idea to do your own search and see what someone may find out about you. Students who played in varsity sports or who made the news for academic achievements can’t remove the news articles, but at least you’ll know what someone else will learn about you if they do a quick Google search.
After I spoke about social media the rest of my short presentation was addressed to the parents. It is an anxious time for many families. As I mentioned in this blog a number of times Citadel parents have to learn to let go and move to a supportive role. Your son or daughter will have to learn the system and sort through the huge amount of tasks in front of them. Knobs will not get encouragement in the traditional sense. That is where parents and friends off campus come in. You cannot go through the system for them, but you can be a safe place for the knobs to vent.
The biggest problem the first few months is sleep. The knobs try to get everything done sacrificing sleep. If a knob isn’t getting sleep their priorities are not in order. Yes, they will get yelled at if their brass is polished or their shoes aren’t shined, but they will not be asked to leave for unpolished shoes. The Citadel is first and foremost a college. If a knob does not prioritize academics they will not be a cadet for long. If you are the parent of a knob and they complain about lack of sleep remind them that they are at a college. No one was denied a diploma because their shoes weren’t shiny enough. (BTW – they will never be shiny enough the first year) Time management is a huge leadership lesson cadets learn during their time at The Citadel. Staying up all night to shine shoes and brass is not a sustainable plan.
Three years ago this week my oldest son returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan. It was a difficult deployment. The battalion lost three men and quite a few others were seriously injured. I am usually a very patient person on the Facebook groups for new parents, because I know how scary it can be to sen da child to a military school. The 9 months my son was deployed I will admit to being a bit less patient with anxious knob moms. Cadets at The Citadel do have it tough, but no one is shooting at them and they will not run over an IED as they walk to class. It is important to keep your worries in perspective this first year and the three years following. It is a tough school, but not a war zone.
The advantage of having a student at The Citadel is knowing where they are every night at midnight. Knobs must spend the night in the barracks every day first semester knob year. They can go off campus on the weekends when they are granted general leave, but they much be back by midnight. Parents of non-military college students have no idea what their students are doing day-to-day, and much less at night.
The system at The Citadel helps the cadets take ownership of their successes and their mistakes. As journalists nad veteran Dave Cullen pointed out recently time is the most precious commodity to military cadets. The ability to decide what to do with your limited free time is a luxury. So when designing the discipline system taking away the freedom of choice is a very effective form of punishment. Cadets who are caught in violation of rules are given tours or confinements. For tours the cadet walk on the quad back and forth for 50 minutes while carrying their rifle. Confinements mean the sit and do school work either in their room or other designated location for a set amount of time often missing out on the fun off campus activities their friends are taking part in. I’ve heard from many cadets and alumni it is a very effective way to deter poor decision-making.
During the Q&A session Lt. Col. Sberna reminded the students present to begin studying their knob knowledge in the Guidon online. Entering the school year having already memorized the alma mater and other bits of knob knowledge will help. That is of course in addition to breaking in your shoes and being able to meet or exceed the physical fitness standards.
The fall athletes report in a week and the rest of the Class of 2020 will report a few weeks later. Best wishes to everyone as they begin their journey on “the road less traveled.”
The Citadel, Class of 2020 reports the morning of August 13. By now the soon-to-be knobs should be checking the Matriculation Headquarters page each week for updates. Just last week they posted the schedule for the weekend.
Drive to campus from your hotel the day before so you will know how to get to the Holliday Alumni Center. (See Traffic Diagram here) Getting lost Saturday morning can really add to the stress of the knob. (Ask me how I know)
Be sure you have a full tank of gas. You wait in your car in a long line Saturday morning. You won’t want to be the family that ran out of gas before you report.
Say your real goodbye’s before you leave the hotel or your home. Once you arrive on campus things move quickly and the knobs time will not be their own.
The knobs turn in their cell phones when they go into the barracks. They should turn them off before they walk in. They won’t get them back for at least a week.
Arrive on the early side. The line starts around 6:30am. Check in begins at 7:00 am. It will be hot arriving early means it will be a chilly 85-90 versus 90-100.
Once you get to the barracks the Citadel Family Association volunteers will be there to help unload your car and let you know where to move your car. They have blue shirts on and all of them have been in your shoes.
Once the boxes are unloaded the knob reports in on their own. (With their FERPA form) Parents must wait with the boxes.
Once the knob comes out you’ll do what he or she tells you to do. How things happen from here can vary by company and each year the process is fine tuned based on the current cadet leadership.
All families must be out of the barracks by 10am. Many families leave earlier because their son or daughter is ready to start their process .
There is an information fair in the McAlister fieldhouse. It is a great time to get your questions answered and meet people from various departments. The fieldhouse is air-conditioned and there are restrooms, and water fountains.
Extended family members can come with you, but you should be aware there is a lot of standing and waiting around. Ask you son or daughter who they want to drop them off. One good option is to have everyone at the hotel and only a few go to campus that morning. No know wants to report with a huge entourage.
If you have young children, bring quiet toys, snacks and water.
If you have older family members or family with disabilities that make standing difficult, bring a folding chair.
The presentation should be over around 12-12:30
You can attend Sunday worship but you will not interact with your son or daughter. They are divided into groups for worship, Protestant, Catholic, Anglican, and Ethics seminar.
The oath ceremony takes place Monday evening. The school has live streamed it in the past. If you are in town you can attend. You will not interact with your son or daughter.
NOTE: Parents of the Class of 2020, if you haven’t already, join the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020. Go to the page request to join, then email me to let me know you are the parent of a knob.
The blog entry I posted yesterday, The Odd Things Citadel Parents Learn is now the most viewed entry this year and the top post since starting this blog in 2011 after my son graduated. Apparently it struck a chord with parents and alumni, but for different reasons.
The current parents tell me they can relate to everything I’ve written. The few alumni I’ve heard from directly say they can relate as well. They understand, because they know me, that I was poking fun at the strange things parents of cadets learn.
I can understand why the alumni wonder why parents know about shoes, T-pins, sheets etc. Unless they have a cadet who has attended since the barracks have air conditioning and all cadets are required to have a computer and encouraged to have a cell phone, they just won’t understand what it is like for current families.
Prior to the early 2000’s electronic communications had not been a big part of our lives. Now to stay competitive in the job market a cadet must know how to use a computer and other devices. Prior to 2000 college life was different for everyone. Few people had laptops and we weren’t used to being electronically connected to the world.
Skype, Facetime and other means of communication weren’t around either. While an argument can be made that the knobs should have limited access to communication, the fact remains that post Virginia Tech tragedy campuses around the country had to institute communication plans with the students. The Citadel now encourages knobs to have cell phones. They can’t use them whenever they want but they do have them.
For readers new to my blog I encourage you to read through the blog posts linked below. You’ll find I repeat over and again that parents must learn to let go and allow their sons and daughters to take ownership of their successes and failures. Once Matriculation Day arrives and parents ask what they can do about this or that on campus, my usual response begins, “you don’t need to do anything, that is up to your son/daughter . . . ”
My son, a 2011 graduate, never told me anything at all about his experience. I have over the years heard stories from others. I did buy most of the items on the Success Packet List and the Nice to Have List. It was my high school graduation gift to him. I don’t know many cadets who have the money to spend, about $1,000 on shoes ($100+ a pair), boots (close to $150 a pair) athletic shoes (close to $100 a pair), and the other required items. I learned a lot about what they needed and how to save money, i.e. cheap sheets, good socks for instance. I pass that information on to others just as local parents shared with me their recommendations.
Stories of washing machines and dryers at home getting clogged by T-pins that were left in sheets at the end of the school year have led them to be referred to as “minions of satan” by a number of parents. (hat tip to my friend Mandy) Many would prefer their cadets use the straps to hold the sheets in place.
My son never told me about the sink or much else for that matter. He did, however, tell my younger son, who told me. When visiting for parents weekend my son’s knob year in 2007, my younger son said, “You didn’t touch the sink did you?!” When I said no and asked why would he ask, my younger son told what the knobs use it for. (he’s never been good at keeping a secret)
I am the chair of the Atlanta Citadel Club’s new Parent Committee. As such, I felt I needed to alert the club about what is being said by alumni about my recent blog post. I received this encouraging note in return:
At these times, I always lean towards my favorite quote about “critics” from Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man (or woman!) who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I’ve heard through the alumni grapevine that many of them don’t understand why parents know about any of the things I write about. If you are an alumnus who feels I am a “Helicopter Parent” I invite you to email me to discuss your concerns. I much prefer a civil dialogue than hearing second-hand about comments made about me and my experience with my family by people I’ve never met. I encourage you to read the blog post below to get a background on why I started this blog and the parent Facebook groups **see below
44 days and a wake up until the Class of 2020 reports to The Citadel, even earlier for the Fall athletes. For many families it is a time of great excitement and some anxiety.
It’s been years since my son was a knob, but I remember the emotions well. The past few years I’ve had the opportunity to be on campus for Matriculation Weekend a few times. Last year I had the honor of standing in as a mom to a young man who flew in from the west coast by himself. I picked him up at his hotel and drove him to the Holliday Alumni Center to begin his journey. So while it may have been years since I had my own son there, I do have some “adopted” cadets who I claim as my own.
A great way to stem the tide of emotions is to meet with other parents, both current and new, to talk about preparations and get feedback from the experienced families. I still remember everyone I met at the send off dinner when my son was about to begin his journey. I’ve collaborated with the Citadel Foundation to come up with a list of events that are scheduled. A few clubs have already hosted their events and are not listed.
If you do not have a club or Citadel family near by, and even if you do, Join the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020 The group is for parents and legal guardians of the Class of 2020 only. Please go to the page and request to join then email me to let me know you are the parent of an incoming knob.