A Caring Community

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

When my oldest son went off to college I never expected to end up with life long friends as a result, but that is what happened at The Citadel.

By the end of my son’s knob year I volunteered to help lead the Georgia Citadel Parents Group. That position meant I was part of the Citadel Family Association. many of the parents I met through this organization back in 2008 are some of my close friends now. We called ourselves the YaYa’s then and now.

Thanks to the development of parent Facebook groups, that are not officially part of The Citadel Family Association, many more parents are meeting virtually before they finally meet on campus.

The Citadel Alumni network are known for supporting fellow members of the Long Gray line of graduates. The parents of cadets at The Citadel are proving to be a very close group too.

As an official volunteer while my son was a cadet, I had the privilege of being a caring presence for a few families who experienced some of life’s most challenging situations, including serious illness and death of a close family members.

I’ve seen the alumni network jump to the aid of a cadet with sudden financial needs. Parents of cadets have too over the years. The alumni have a very organized structure, but for the parents there really isn’t a structure in a formal sense. They are members of various Facebook groups. As a need arises someone will post a note, then  the offers of help and prayers begin to pour in. This grass-roots support happened after hurricane Sandy when a Long Island mom, who is also a teacher posted a need. Each year leading up to ring weekend calls for support for cadets who cannot afford their ring are posted and the challenge is met.

Volunteer support is also given in family emergencies. Offers of prayers, visits to hospitals and campus are all carried out quietly by individuals and groups who hear of a need a step up to meet the need. I don’t know of another college or university that has this type of camaraderie among the parents of their students.

Parents do need to be careful though. The cadets are students at a military college. The 4th Class System is designed to train the students to become leaders, which means learning to solve problems on their own.

A recent article in Forbes addresses the problems that can arise when parents get too involved and don’t allow their children to learn through their mistakes, the title is 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. It is harder for parents of cadets to get involved with their day to day life, but quite a few parents do stay a bit too connected to the day to day decisions than is healthy for their cadet’s leadership development.

The Citadel website lists several options for families that find them self in an emergency situation. All parents should have the HELP web page bookmarked just in case it is ever needed. Only you know your student. If at any time you are concerned about your cadet or what has been reported to happen on campus always call the appropriate department. If you are not sure what the right department would be contact the Ombudsperson’s office they can help you and keep our conversation confidential if you would like.

We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya's. We had a little reunion at Vendue Rooftop in 2010.
We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya’s. We had a little reunion at Vendue Rooftop in 2010.



January – A time for change

A beautiful Fall day at The Citadel. The weather should begin to warm up in Charleston by the end of February.
A beautiful Fall day at The Citadel. The weather should begin to warm up in Charleston by the end of February.

Each year at this time the cadets return to The Citadel for the start of second semester, just like other colleges around the country. It is a time of year most of the cadets dread, They return to campus after a month of warm beds, long hot showers, great food and time with their family and friends. On campus they resume their regimented schedules that include early morning physical training in the cold damp weather of the low country of South Carolina.

The knobs will begin to see the Recognition Day light at the end of the tunnel. The seniors just begin to realize that their time as members of the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel is coming to a close. The junior Bond Volunteer Aspirants begin the final steps towards Cuts Day and the hope of becoming a member of the Summerall Guards. Sophomore gain a few more privileges too. High school seniors are beginning to focus on preparing to join the Corps of Cadets.

The search terms people use to find this blog tell me that many cadets (and their parents too) are doing their homework. I have no way of knowing who is using these search terms, but I imagine the break down to be something like this:

The senior cadets and their parents are searching for topics like: Citadel gifts; life for graduates after The Citadel; Citadel graduation cake.

The knobs and their families are searching for: Citadel Recognition Day schedule (it isn’t posted yet); Citadel class of 2017

The high school seniors who will be in the Class of 2018 search for: pre-knob visit; what to pack for The Citadel; Citadel Success Institute (CSI); and my personal favorite this week, “is knob year awful.”

What ever may have brought you to this site, Welcome! I hope you find the answer to your questions here. Remember to use the search window on this site. I try to add the links to official information on the school website. You should also go to the citadel.edu website and use the search window there.

I wish every cadet (and future cadet) and their family the best where ever they are in the process of joining the Long Gray Line.

The Citadel: Tips for Commencement Week 2014

2013 Long Gray Line
2013 Long Gray Line

It may only be January, but it is time to plan for graduation in May. It may even be a little late to start if you plan on renting a home for the week. Links to hotel information and other places to stay are in this previous post. It is always a good idea to call the area hotels directly and ask if they offer a special rate for Citadel families.

The schedule for the week is available on the school website under Commencement 2014. Many families come into town Wednesday or earlier and make a week of it. The seniors are out of the barracks before the other cadets so count on them staying with you. Graduates who are commissioning and/or who are Legacies should see this link for their special schedule.

As every other cadet event, the cadets have practice during the days for all the events from the commissioning ceremonies for military contract graduates, to the long grey line, legacies, and commencement. Their evenings are free.

A friend gave me a heads up about graduation week. While we all want to spend time with our soon to be graduate, it hits the seniors sometime leading up to graduation that they will no longer be able to see their buddies by walking out of their room in the barracks. They try to get as much time with their friends as possible before they spread across the globe in their various new roles.

Some families get together with others and host parties for companies. Others have small family gatherings. It is totally up to the individual families. I wrote about the little things i did graduation week to say thank you to various people on campus that I came to call friends.

If you are just getting started on your plans, a place to stay should be at the top of your list. Meal planning is next, especially if you will have a large group dining out. For help in finding facilities the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource. The area hotels have restaurants and meeting facilities, but they can also offer suggestions.

The attire for the baccalaureate ceremony, commissioning ceremony, the parade and garden party is listed as casual, but many families dress a little nicer than just casual. Of course you need to dress for the weather too. In 2011 it rained for the Friday afternoon long grey line parade. We ended up so soaked we skipped the reception at the President’s home.  In all the photos I’ve seen from other years the ladies wear light sun dresses, nice slacks and similar outfits. For the commissioning ceremony many wear jacket and tie as would match the attire the new officers will be wearing. Most people don’t have the time to change between events so they wear something comfortable, but nice for all the events.

You will want to plan on dinner Friday, and a late lunch Saturday after graduation. Dinner Saturday night is another opportunity to plan a gathering. The recent graduates may also have various parties they will want to visit. Like everything else over the four years, the events outside of the planned school functions, will vary with each graduate. A good resource, in addition to the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, for restaurants is Zagat’s.

Gifts ideas for graduates are infinite. Some families give gifts to their cadet’s friends. Some knobs families give senior mentors gifts. It is totally up to the individual as to what you give or if you give a gift. A nice card is always appropriate. The Citadel Alumni Association also has some nice gifts available through their site.

The Citadel Bookstore sells diploma frames. Blazer buttons, and various jewelry items are also a nice gift.

The Citadel Alumni Association offers a steep discount on their Lifetime Memberships for junior and senior cadets. It makes a terrific graduation present. They host a special luncheon/presentation gathering Thursday afternoon. The new Lifetime members are presented with their plaque during the event.

A nice gift for a graduate to give their mother is the special miniature Citadel ring or pendant. It is pricey so they may need help from dad to purchase it for their mom.

I’ll include a few links below to previous posts that include other gift ideas and links.

The cadets spend four years waiting to graduate, then spend the rest of their lives trying to get back. Enjoy the week of events and take lots of photos!

If you would like to get together with other families in your cadets family and hire a photographer, I happen to be married to a very good one, Stanley Leary.  You can see some of his Citadel photos here. Of course there are others in the area too.

Other posts about graduation:

The Citadel: Tips from One Parent for Graduation Weekend

The Citadel Recognition Day and Graduation Gift Ideas

Finding Gifts for Your Citadel Cadet

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

Updated Hotel Information

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.