7 Days and Wake Up

Checking in at Holliday Alumni Center
Matriculation morning, 2015

We are one week away from the day Class of 2021 report to The Citadel on their Matriculation Day. Hopefully by now the incoming knobs have read the Matriculation Headquarters page, and completed the necessary tasks. Parents of the Class of 2021 should be aware of everything on the headquarters page, but should really read through everything on the Freshman Parent section of the school web site.

A mailing with helpful information for parents from the Citadel Family Association (CFA) will arrive in the mail soon. The CFA is made up of current parents who volunteer their time to support new families. Once your student learns their company you’ll have a company and battalion rep to support you. You can also find their contact information on the CFA web site.

Parents talk to the “Blue Shirt” volunteer as they wait with the boxes as their knob reports to the battalion.

I moderate a Facebook group called The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2021. We have a record number of parents in the group for this time of year. Membership is already over 630. The group is only for parents and guardians of knobs. Please let your extended family and friends know they cannot join the group, but they can follow the public pages the school runs to keep up with what is happening on campus.

This is the time of year I advise new parents to step away from the computer and spend time with their family. It can be a stressful time for many families, so much so that I end up writing a blog post about letting go each year around this time. I’ll add a few links at the end of this entry.

I do understand how scary it can feel to send a child to The Citadel, or any military college. The key to remember is your student has chosen this type of college experience. If this is what they really want to do they have the skills necessary to be successful.

Trust me, when my son went to The Citadel I was extremely nervous. What I learned that first year is that I didn’t have to understand why they do things the way they do. I was not a cadet my son was. He was the one that had to deal with the 4th Class system. To this day I can’t say I totally understand the “why” around much of the process, but I have come to appreciate the outcomes. The Citadel was exactly where my son, and most cadets who choose to take on the challenge, were supposed to be.

If you are a parent worried about this first year, you aren’t alone. A few words of advice. Try not to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet, because most of the things you worry about will never happen. If you feel you need to speak to someone on campus the Parent liaison is one place to start: parents@citadel.edu The company and battalion TAC officers and the Ombudspersons are also great resources for parents.

If you find you are nervous and obsessing over the parent’s Facebook page each day, walk away from the page for a while. Most likely by now your student has what they need to report on the 12th. Once you have read the Matriculation Headquarters , the Freshman Parent information page and the Citadel Family Association page you are set for next week. Read my previous post with matriculation day tips next week before you get to Charleston for a review.

I have walked your path as have scores of other families. We understand your fears, but also know how great the rewards are for those who stay and wear The Ring.

If you will be in Charleston the night of August 12, sign up for the 2021 Family BBQ dinner. It is a great way to meet other families.

On a personal note. . . this year our youngest is a college freshman. She moved into her dorm at Columbus State University yesterday. It was a completely different experience from her older brother’s matriculation day in 2007. We are slowly adjusting to our new normal as empty nesters while still missing our girl.

Blog posts about my son’s knob year and what I learned:

The Making of a Military Mom

Mom Readies for Son’s Military College

The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents

How The Citadel “Ya-Yas” Came to Be

Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel

A few tips about knob year for parents:

Knob Year Notes for Parents

Posts about letting go:

Uniformity, Lists, and Letting Go

Citadel Parents: Let it Go!

Transitions and Letting Go

Matriculation Day: The Hardest Part for Parents is Letting Go

Preparing for Knob Year – Parents Edition

Advantages of being the Parent of a Citadel Cadet

Our family Matriculation Day morning at the hotel, 2007
Taylor, Chelle, and Nelson (Bravo, 11) May 2017

 

 

Parents Weekend, 2007
Chelle in her new dorm room. August 3, 2017

Preparing for The Citadel – Parent Edition

The knobs check in with the company’s 1st Sergeant and turn in their phones. Remember to turn them off so they won’t be dead when they are returned in a week.

Each year about this time in the Facebook group for new parents some parents post that they are really stressed about the preparation. I try to be as caring as  can be and encourage these parents to begin to let go of the process and encourage their student to do the prep work necessary.

Since tuition is now really high, especially for out of state students, I understand the need for families to monitor expenses and to be concerned with the purchases needed to report to The Citadel.

For many alumni who tell tales of their parents dumping them at the gates and driving off on matriculation day these parental concerns confuse them. Sending a student to The Citadel today is a major investment. Out of state tuition is over $40,000 a year. Most families must watch their expense and it is a team effort to meet the expenses.

With that background I offer a few tips for new parents:

The Citadel is a leadership college. That means in addition to their academic major they will be learning leadership skills. Parents need to learn to step back and let their student take charge of their process. This includes getting everything gathered to report on Matriculation Day. Once they report you will not have any control of how your student handles their training. Start practicing letting go now.

The new parent Facebook groups help with basic questions and support. Do not spend your time trying to get everything “just right.” Each cadet and family are different there is not one right way to get ready for Matriculation Day. The future knob must prepare physically and mentally for the big day. They need items on the Success Packet list and should break in their shoes. How those things come together with vary with each person.

Last year the father of a knob sent me a video clip from Finding Nemo. In the clip a small sea turtle, Squirt, gets thrown out of the current. Nemo’s dad, a clown fish named Marlin panics and tries to go after Squirt. Marlin is stopped by Squirt’s laid back dad, Crush, who says, “Kill the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.” As a parent be like Crush, not Marlin. Do not try to intervene with your knobs experience. You’ll be amazed at what they can do “flying solo.”

The staff and cadet cadre have a strong tradition of training young students and molding them into strong cadets. Allow the process to work. If at any time you have concerns or questions, contact the parent liaison, Capt. Taylor Skardon, parents@citadel.edu. or one of the three Ombudspersons.

Cadre members lead knobs from the Cadet Store back to their company. August 2015
Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.
A 2019 knob reports to his company on Matriculation Day.

A Few Tips for Parents on Graduation Weekend

DISMISSED!!! photo by Stanley Leary

Graduation is a few days away. The weather is looking iffy for Friday, but the forecast changes daily. I’ve compiled a few tips for parents as they head to Charleston for this huge milestone celebration.

Have fun

Be sure you have your camera battery charged up. Bring extra memory cards/batteries.

Be prepared for rain with an umbrella and water repellant jacket or coat. Wear rain boots if you have them since it gets muddy with the rain.

Remember if it rains it WILL NOT dampen the spirits of the graduates (it poured for my son’s long gray line. We all had a blast.)

Have Fun

When taking photos have one person in your party take a photo from one end of Summerall Field to get a good shot of the grads the complete length of the field.

The graduates go from being thrilled to be graduating to realizing that after Saturday the friends that have become family will be spread throughout the country and the globe. It helps to understand that their emotions can be all over the place this week.

Enjoy yourself

Before graduation on Saturday ask your senior where they will be sitting in relationship to the front dais (stage). They line up in alpha order, not by company, for graduation.

Decide where you will meet after graduation BEFORE graduation. Some meet on the floor of the field house other prefer to meet up outside. Some want to get photos with their friends at a specific place. Having a short conversation ahead of time can expedite the meet up after graduation is over.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the parents of 2017 and hope to see many of you Friday and Saturday.

Welcome to My New Blog Site

Since 2010 when my son was  cadet at The Citadel I’ve contributed to a blog, first it was the military blog, Off the Base, then I posted my own blog on WordPress, Dorie Griggs. This effort led to beginning Facebook groups for parents of new cadets. There are now groups for the parents of cadets, some grads, in the classes of 2016 – 2021 as well as the group, Military Parents of The Citadel, for parents of cadets and grads on military contracts.

I could not have predicted in 2010 that the blog would still be active, or that I’d still be involved with a school my son graduated from in 2011. As I outlined in the blog post, The Story of my Untraditional Calling, this effort has evolved from a call I have felt to be a supportive presence to people.

Together the groups I started and/or moderate include just under 2,500 members. It is a rewarding experience to help ease the anxiety of new parents. It is also a very time consuming venture. Between moderating the Facebook groups to answering private messages on an average day I interact with between 10 – 30 people daily about something cadet related. This has all been done on my own time at my own expense.

A few very thoughtful and supportive parents in the past couple of years have sent monetary gifts to help me make occasional trips to Charleston to attend events. Some have offered their homes so I don’t incur hotel charges. I am so grateful for their support.

I’ve now moved my blog to this platform to make it possible to add affiliate links and to encourage contributions to my effort to support parents. These links will make it possible for me to derive a small bit of income while providing helpful information to parents. Using the links will help me to continue to help parents and does not cost the user any additional money.

This is a big step for me and uncharted territory. With our own daughter graduating high school in May and heading off to college, I need to find ways to help pay tuition.

As always I welcome your feed back. Thank  you for visiting.

The Knob Year Rollercoaster

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

Matriculation Day for The Citadel Class of 2019 is just over a week away. So far there are close to 330 parents of entering knobs in the Facebook group The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2019. I can tell by the questions I am getting both online and in my email inbox that nerves are running pretty high for many parents. I was there in 2007 and totally understand. We are not a military family and no one in our family ever attended The Citadel so the experience was completely foreign.

After eight years of volunteering to support new parents I have learned a few things that to help new parents. While the next year will be a real rollercoaster of emotions for the class of 2019, the parents should resist to get on the ride with their student. If your student has decided to enter The Citadel, they most likely have a good idea of what they are signing up for this year.

As I mentioned in the blog post, Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, the process helps these young men and women learn how to take ownership for their actions. You can read more about the leadership training the cadets are exposed to on the page for the Krause Center for Leadership & Ethics and also the page of the Office of the Assistant Commandant for Leadership Programs.

Reading the school website and learning about what your student will go through is one way to ease the “scariness” of sending a child to a military school. Like most things we aren’t familiar with, the more you learn about the process the less intimidating it will be. I also recommend that parents who are not familiar with The Citadel or knob year read the book by Nancy Mace, In the Company of Men. It is a good read and gives an overview of cadet life and insights into the traditions of the school. Sword Drill by David Epps is a novel that also helps you learn about the process cadets go through. These are both books I’d recommend reading first semester. You’ll learn about the school and it will take your mind off of missing your son or daughter.

The first few months are the toughest because of all the adjustments the cadet recruits will go through. Once they get their phones and computer access back you’ll begin to hear stories. Many of them can be quite funny. Your cadet recruit will need you to be their sounding board. Because they have no rank or status in the Corps of Cadets they will use their parents and friends off campus to vent to about knob life. Listen, be empathetic, but realize they need to blow off steam. Most likely after they talk to you, whatever they were upset about will be worked out and they will have moved on while you are still worried.

If they are having trouble in class or with the system talk them through ways in which to solve whatever problem they have. They have a cadet chain of command to report to and they have confidential staff resources available which can be found on the page called H.E.L.P. Whenever possible it is best for the knob to work out their problems on their own. If at any time as a parent you have concerns about your son or daughter, you can also contact the Ombudspersons on campus. Capt. Paluso addressed the Atlanta Citadel Club in June and told the 2019 parents in attendance that if they have any concerns about their child’s experience they should contact the TAC officer or him. Many parents of cadets and graduates will offer advice based on their experience, but since the school changes each year it is always best to trust your parental instincts and contact the staff person who can address your concerns. I encourage all parents of cadets and graduates to listen to the address Capt. Paluso gave in June. It is a long talk and Q & A session but you don’t have to watch the video, just listen.

Encourage your cadet recruit to keep their priorities straight. Each year the knobs get so caught up with the military aspect of things they burn the candle at both ends. They go to class during the day, study then stay up late shining shoes and brass. That is not a sustainable plan. They need to prioritize studying and sleep and fit in the polishing in short spurts throughout the week and on the weekends. The Citadel is a COLLEGE first. No one failed out because their shoes weren’t shiny enough, but they have for getting poor grades. They need to get sleep to be able the handle their very busy schedule.

Getting back to phone calls and knob year. While they will have their phones back a week after they report, knobs cannot just call and text at will. There will be times when you are on the phone with them and they have to hang up. Do not get upset and do not call them back. Most likely it means an upperclass cadet just came into their room.

If your son or daughter have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they too need to understand this. Relationships are tough to keep up knob year. It takes a very understanding significant other to understand this year isn’t about them. Many, many, relationships from high school break up this first year. Just one more tough part of being a knob. Parents, your job in these situations is to help your son or daughter see the big long term picture, getting their diploma, graduating, and starting their career. It can be tough to see the big picture knob year when you are kept in the dark about most things on campus.

A great way to help the knobs this first year is sending care packages. The knobs love getting them and it gives parents something positive to focus on. It can get pricey though. Another Citadel mom wrote a blog post with tips on saving money when you send a package. See the link to her post HERE. The campus post office staff is also very helpful. If you live close to campus you can drop things off at the post office to be put in their box. The post office contact information can be found HERE. They also have some tips on the Matriculation Headquarters page in their letter. The USPS box 1096L fits nicely into their mail box. It is also the size of a book and fits into their knobbie bag. You can order them for free through the USPS web site and they will be delivered to your home.

During this first year, parents, you will need to find your own support network. Many parents have friends who are the parents of upperclass cadets. They can be a tremendous source of support. The Citadel Family Association (CFA) is a group made up of parents of current cadets. There are representatives for each company, battalion and many areas of the country. These volunteers can also be a great source of support and information. The CFA volunteers also are on campus for matriculation day to help the families move their knob’s things into the barracks and answer questions. Look for the people dressed in blue shirts. After this first year you can volunteer to help too.

This year will be a rollercoaster for your knob, but if you employ a few of the tips above you should get through it without too many ups and downs.

The Citadel: Class of 2019, Matriculation Day Count Down

Featured guest speaker Captain Eugene “Geno” Paluso, II ’89 USN (ret.), Commandant of Cadets, with Colonel Hutto '87, Citadel Alumni Association,  Dorie Griggs and the ACC Officers
L-R: Andy Frey, ACC president; Colonel Laurence Hutto ’87, Citadel Alumni Association; Featured guest speaker Captain Eugene “Geno” Paluso, II ’89 USN (ret.), Commandant of Cadets; Dorie Griggs, Michael Escoe, ACC VP and Gregory Horton and James Stevens, ACC Board of Directors.

Capt. Eugene “Geno” Paluso, commandant of cadets was the featured speaker at the Atlanta Citadel Club‘s annual cadet send off dinner. A group of alumni incoming knob and their parents heard the vision and goals of the commandant. If you have some time I highly recommend you listen to his talk and the Q&A afterward.

The pre-knobs in the Class of 2019 who attended the Atlanta Citadel Club dinner in June.
The pre-knobs in the Class of 2019 who attended the Atlanta Citadel Club dinner in June.

Right now the Facebook group for parents of the class of 2019 is right at 260 members and is growing each day. The topics in the group range from clear plastic boxes, shoes and shoe polish to computers and wireless set up. It is an exciting and nerve wracking time for the new families.

My son started in 2007, before Facebook. Fortunately the Atlanta Citadel Club has had a group for parents for years. I am still in touch with a few parents I met at that first send off dinner the summer of 2007. While I didn’t have Facebook groups to help me I did correspond with The parents of cadets I met at the dinner and also the Citadel Family Association (CFA) volunteers. The CFA is for parents of current cadets and is a great resource for all parents. In the time leading up to matriculation day you can look up your area representative. After matriculation day, when you find out what company and battalion your cadet is in, there are company and battalion reps who will be very good resources for you.

Right now the incoming knobs, or pre-knobs, should be breaking in their shoes. This year it has been tough to find the proper shoes as some styles are changing and brands some cadets have bought in the past are no longer being made. The Bates brand plain toe black leather oxford with rubber heel is the one the school recommends. As long as the shoes meet the published criteria on the Matriculation Headquarters page the shoes and boots will be fine. Pay particular attention to each link on the Matriculation Headquarters page, including the Commandant’s Matriculation Information page. In addition to the list of required items in the Success Packet which is listed in the Matriculation Headquarters page, parents and their pre-knobs should review the  Citadel Family Association’s “Nice to Have List.”

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.

The items to bring hasn’t changed much over the past few years. The clear plastic boxes seem to cause some amount of stress for moms looking for the exact sizes listed. Please don’t stress over these. You do need to be sure they are no larger than the sizes listed, but it really isn’t something to lose sleep over.

I am going to repeat myself here, but it can’t be stressed enough, you and your pre-knob should read the Matriculation Headquarters page and click on ALL the links on the page, and all the links on the pages you will navigate to. Before arriving on campus I suggest you print out the Matriculation Day schedule from the Matriculation Headquarters page and also the Traffic Diagram from the Matriculation Information page.

This year I have plans to be on campus over the matriculation day weekend for meetings with various staff members. I look forward to meeting some of the parent sI’ve corresponded with as well.

You may find the following entry, located on the left hand side of this blog page, helpful as you get ready to report:

Matriculation Day: Reporting in that First Day

Hotels That Offer Discounts to Citadel Families

The Boat Center at The Citadel.
The picnic tables by the boat house. My favorite place on campus.

Each year I am asked about the best hotels to stay in when parents visit the school. The city is a very popular tourist destination and there are a wide variety of properties to choose from that range from luxury hotels to discount properties. Some families prefer to rent a home or condo and stay at Folly Beach or Isle of Palms. Vacation Rental Buy Owner vrbo.com is one good resource or check out any number of realtors in the area.

The following are a list of properties that offer discounts to Citadel families.

The Citadel has a link on their website to a page with hotels that offer a discount use this link to access discounts to eight hotels.

I’ve called each of the following hotels. They all have a special rate, but you need to book early and call the hotel directly to get a hotel room in the discounted block. Discount sites like hotels.com and using your AAA card can help too.

Charleston Marriott Use the link for a discounted rate. (click on the highlighted hotel name) Their phone number, 843-723 3000

Hampton Inn Airport 843-554-7154 ask for “The Citadel Rate”

Hawthorn Suites call 843-225-4411 ask for “The Citadel Rate”

Home2Suites call 843-744-4202 ask for “The Citadel Rate”

LaQuinta Inn & Suites Charleston Riverview 843-556-5200 ask for “The Citadel Rate”

Red Roof Inn Plus 843-884-1411 select the Front Desk option ask for “The Citadel Rate”

Wingate by Wyndham 843-553-4444 ask for “The Citadel Rate”

If you have a favorite property you stay at during visits, leave a comment on this post.

Signs You Were the Parent of a Knob at The Citadel

Members of the Class of 2019 from the Atlanta area gather after the Atlanta Citadel Club's annual send off dinner.
Members of the Class of 2019 from the Atlanta area gather after the Atlanta Citadel Club’s annual send off dinner.

The Class of 2019 will report to The Citadel in August. The Facebook group for the parents of the Class of 2019 already has over 170 members. I met several families and incoming knobs this past week at the annual send off dinner hosted by the Atlanta Citadel Club. I began to ponder the unique experience parents of cadets at The Citadel go through their son or daughter’s first year. I decided to write down a few of my observations about being the parent of a cadet who used to be a knob. Feel free to add your insights in the comments section.

Signs you were the parent of a knob at The Citadel:

You know the best places on campus to wait for your knob without their cadre seeing them.

You know how to pack a very small box from the U.S. Post Office with lots of goodies and still pay a low flat rate.

The workers at your local post office know you by name and ask about your knob by name.

You know where to find white T-shirts at the best price.

You stay up for hours combing photos of hundreds of knobs, all dressed alike, just to get a glimpse of your son or daughter.

You have shared a photo of a group of knobs because you thought your child was in it, only to find out that was not your child.

You know the importance of condiments and chocolate milk.

You’ve ever referred to a teen aged cadet as “Mr.”

You’ve found T-pins in your laundry.

You know insect repellant is a necessary item when you visit the campus.

You’ve combed the internet for the best prices on plain toe black oxfords, shirt stays, socks and underwear.

You drive onto campus in the silent procession before midnight to drop your knob off before “All ins.”

You know what “All In” means.

You know how great it is to have your knob with you, even if they are sound asleep for most of the visit.

When you hear MRI you think “morning room inspection” before “magnetic resonance imaging.”

Sallyport, SMI, rack, brace, sir sandwich, are part of your normal vocabulary.

You’ve known exactly where your college freshman is Sunday through Thursday evenings and after midnight Friday and Saturday.

You’ve made great friends with the parents of your knobs classmates.

You recognize a Citadel sticker on a car from 50 paces.

You are pretty sure you are the reason The Citadel Bookstore has met their monthly sales goals.

Dorie and Nelson right before leaving the hotel for The Citadel. Matriculation Day, 2007. photo by Stanley Leary.
Dorie and Nelson right before leaving the hotel for The Citadel. Matriculation Day, 2007. photo by Stanley Leary.

Matriculation Information for The Citadel, Class of 2019

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

The Matriculation Headquarters page of the citadel.edu website is updated for the class of 2019, with more updates to come throughout the summer. For the soon-to-be knobs and their parents it is a time of mixed emotions. If you are both feeling a mixture anxious and excited you are in good company.

It is very important for the entering knob to read through everything posted. There are some deadlines that you will have to keep up with throughout the summer. The first deadline is June 10. Your registration information must be in on that date. The other assignments are due at various times as posted. Keep visiting the Matriculation Headquarters page and the Commandant’s Matriculation Information page for updates throughout the summer.

Take some time to read through the Success Packet. The list of required, and optional items, is in this document on pages 6 – 7. The packet includes details about other rules. Take time to absorb all the information. Also visit the Citadel Family Association page for the “Nice to Have List

Last year I wrote a post about transitions. Parents you may want to review that entry. The toughest part of knob year for many parents is the transition you must make. The Citadel is a leadership school. Your student will need to navigate the 4th class system on their own. Parents move to a support role. Moving out of the decision-making role is tough for many parents.

The next two months the rising knob should be working out daily. If they arrive able to meet or exceed the physical training (PT) requirements it will help with their transition. The PT requirements are very important. Each year some knobs report in poor physical shape. That just makes the transition for them harder.

Breaking in the black leather Oxfords is another thing that should be started as soon as possible. Wear the shoes often throughout the summer. Blistered feet is a major cause of problems for knobs in the first month.

Parents of the Class of 2019 are invited to join the Facebook page for parents (please email me to verify you are a parent of a knob. See the “About Dorie” section here for my email). The entering knobs should keep a low profile on social media. It is a good idea for everyone, but especially for knobs, to set the security settings on Facebook and other social media to Friends only. To keep a low profile do not use hashtags related to The Citadel on posts to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other medium. The goal is to blend in and not call attention to yourself. If your profile lists that you are a cadet when you . haven’t even started knob year, you are inviting unwanted attention from cadets and alumni.

Many alumni chapters host cadet send off events. The Atlanta Citadel Club has a very nice dinner planned for June 18. If you are not sure if your area has an event, contact the admissions office at The Citadel. They can let you know if an event is planned for your area. The Georgia Citadel Parents Group has an orientation for parents scheduled June 14 at the Dekalb Library in Decatur. Margaret Landry is the chair this year. If you’d like her contact information just let me know.

It is an exciting time. Do yourself a favor and study up!

Visit the following sites for tips on getting ready and for reporting on Matriculation Day:

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Matriculation Day: Reporting in that First Day

Knob Year Notes for Parents

Reflections on the past, looking forward to the future

The front of our annual Christmas card this year featured our daughter in her Hogwarts robe casting a spell on her brother, while I, in my clerical robe and stole, held up my hands to stop her and Stanley documented the action with his camera. A totally silly photo. Taylor's sign reads, "I should have been adopted." since he is always shaking his head at our silly antics.
The front of our annual Christmas card this year featured our daughter in her Hogwarts robe casting a spell on her brother, while I, in my clerical robe and stole, held up my hands to stop her and Stanley documented the action with his camera. A totally silly photo. Taylor’s sign reads, “I should have been adopted.” since he is always shaking his head at our silly antics.

The past two months have been filled with activity, some good some difficult. My health and the demands of my chaplain residency have kept me from writing as often. I hope to be back on a regular posting schedule with the start of 2015.

The Monday before Thanksgiving while at work at the VA hospital I began to feel funny. To make a long story a bit shorter, it turns out I was experiencing atrial fibrillation. My heart raced up to 160+ beats per minute and stayed that way for 4 hours. Since that day I’ve had a few other trips to the emergency room, several tests and I meet with the cardiologist this coming Tuesday, which also happens to be our 19th anniversary. While I am still learning what all this means, it does appear that it is a fairly commonly condition. One that can be managed fairly easily.

I am now looking to the next six months and starting to explore what will be next for me when I complete this residency. The path for many people after finishing a year of clinical pastoral education is to become staff of a congregation or to go into full-time chaplaincy. My stated goal at the beginning of this year was to start a nonprofit and continue my call to be a supportive presence for journalists and also for parents of cadets at The Citadel. I am not ordained, and do not plan to pursue ordination, in any denomination so full-time chaplaincy with an established organization is not a possibility.

The first step in starting a nonprofit is to find who else is meeting a need. There are several organizations that provide training and professional support for journalists. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma being the leader in that area, and the Ochberg Society provides peer-to-peer support. I’d like to see a network of clergy, all faiths, and therapists, who are trained in the particularities of the world of journalism so that they can be an effective, caring presence, when a journalist needs support. I’m not sure how that will pan out. I’ve learned that by me stating an intention or an idea, it may spark an idea in someone else and before you know it, a team is formed. I may end up pursuing guest lecturing to journalism programs and newsrooms.

The same idea applies supporting new parents at The Citadel. This next academic year will be my 8th year of supporting a new class of parents of knobs. The first three years I was the chair of the Georgia Citadel Parents Group and also the Cadet Retention and Recruitment Chair for the Citadel Family Association. Since my son graduated in 2011 I’ve continued to help new parents, but not as a CFA volunteer. Once your cadet graduates you are no longer a CFA member. I posted the information I shared with parents in Georgia to this blog site the fall of 2011. I began getting a lot of emails with questions and decided to start a Facebook group for the Class of 2016 parents to make it easy to answer questions in one place. Three years and three Facebook groups later, for the Classes of 2017 and 2018, I’ve just added one for the parents of the class of 2019.

While I do feel a call to do this type of support for new parents, it is very time-consuming and completely unpaid. I’ve begun to wonder if I could make this a nonprofit venture and ask for some financial support from the parents who join the groups. Since I am still in the investigative stage I welcome any feedback my readers have on this matter. I’m not looking to make tons of money from this venture, but at least enough to make it a part-time venture and cover some of my expenses. In simple terms if each member of the Facebook groups donates $10, I’d have a decent part-time income. Let me know what you think in the comments section or send me an email with your thoughts on starting a nonprofit. If I do go the nonprofit route, I will be looking for potential board members with expertise in nonprofit law, fundraising, and other areas.

Please join me the next several months as I explore the next steps in my journey. I’ll continue to post helpful tips for parents of cadets at The Citadel, but will add entries about my own journey as well.

Best wishes to each of you for an exciting year!

A more "normal" portrait of our crew.
A more “normal” portrait of our crew.