I have spent many beautiful mornings on the Yard with mild temperatures and balmy breezes on sunny days that are perfect for a stroll or to just sit and enjoy. My favorite time is early in the morning while things are still quiet, the sun glistening off of the brick and Tecumseh himself seems to be smiling at the new day.
If you listen you can hear the birds singing, the far off sound of a lawn mower somewhere, and the stillness of the morning. Then you begin to hear the distant chatter of voices, movement, steps taken by shoes on brick as the Midshipmen begin to emerge from Mother B and head to their classes. Suddenly, youa re surrounded by a sea of white covers and the nearly black – but really supposed to be navy blue – uniforms. Some Mids walk placidly along, some are on a mission, some walk in small groups chatting away quietly and smiling, while others are serious – focused and contemplative.
Over the past eight+ years that we have visited the Yard as parents, I have to say that my favorite times to visit are when I can sit and enjoy the moment. The two weeks after Commissioning and before I-Day are perfect for quiet walks, sitting on a shady bench and reading or simply enjoying the history and the place that is USNA.
I discuss this in my book and you can read the rest in detail in A USNA Mom’s Journal – Plebe Summer through Commissioning and Beyond! What You Need to Know (also available on Kindle and Apple Books), but if your Mid is on campus for first block, you can catch a glimpse or enjoy some time together (depending on current guidelines since access to the Yard has been limited due to CoVid) but they will be also be too busy to occupy most of your time so I encourage you to explore and make friends!
These quiet times as well as busier times like I-Day Minus One, Plebe Parent Weekend, 2/C Parent Weekend, home football weekends, Commissioning Week, and more are ideal times to explore the galleries on Main Street, the Naval Academy Museum, take a tour of the Yard or the State Capitol, walk around Hospital Point, try one of the myriad of incredible restaurants, or enjoy time with friends that you make along the way. I love sipping on a cup of coffee at Old Fox Books with a friend or two (this is one of our former Mids’ and our family’s favorite spots to hang out, read, enjoy the cozy ambiance, and have a snack), or enjoying brunch on State Circle, or just simply walking around and finding something new. USNA and Annapolis are remarkable places and they remind me of what a blessing it is to be a part of our truly amazing N*avy family!
As Plebe Summer draws closer for the Class of 2025 and their families, I think of those quiet mornings that I have spent on the Yard, especially during my BGO training in 2014 which took place during Plebe Summer. I would wake up at dawn and sit still in the quiet, humid morning waiting for the Plebes and their companies to emerge from Bancroft marching in formation as they headed to morning PT. I could hear the crescendo of their marching and/or running, the singing of cadences and I listened intently trying to discern the words. I imagined my first Mid or even my Dad doing the same as they experienced their own Plebe Summers. It is hard work: physically, mentally, and emotionally, but there are also times when Plebes and Detailers decompress and have fun.
I remember a story from my second then-Mid’s Plebe Summer, when a Detailer came to inquire as to why she and her roommates were not in their racks with lights out. My Plebe found nothing better than to be cheeky (within the rules) and said, “Sir, We were waiting for you to come read us a bedtime story, Sir!”. The Detailer’s face contorted but before losing composure, he stepped into the hallway where he could be heard chuckling quietly and then came back into the room to tell them it was lights out and that there would be no story tonight. That memory is indelibly etched in our minds and hearts along with many others told by our two Mids and even my Dad. The cool thing is that although my Dad’s Plebe Summer was in 1955, he can still compare notes with my two former Mids, now Officers, and there is more in common than not. It is that commonality of journey that creates life long friendships and solidifies the loyalty amongst squad mates, company mates and Mids in general.
Looking toward I-Day, Appointees will arrive with their families the day before I-Day, referred to as I-Day Minus One, or earlier and will begin getting acquainted with the town and if at all possible, the Yard. This year I-Day is a modified version once again, where parents will drop off and drive off immediately – think tuck and roll – but parents will get to return to the Yard to be present at the Oath of Office. What a special moment that will be!
Just in case, all the I-Day information is on the USNA Plebe Summer page .
With I-Day and Plebe Summer in mind, the first and inaugural episode of my new podcast, Not Your Usual Summer Camp | Episode 1 is now available for you to listen and may help to give some insight as to the journey ahead.
My podcast schedule is on my Home page and lists the first few episodes and their expected release dates, although note that Podcasts may be added more frequently than every two weeks. Stay tuned and subscribe to the podcast so that you can be notified when a new episode is published.
And if you would like to hear about a specific topic, please let me know!
For the new families, know that current USNA parents as well as Alumni parents are cheering you on! I am here for you to answer questions, any time. Welcome Aboard to the N*avy family!