As the Firstie parents get ready for Commissioning, I thought I would share my Commissioning Week Tips from my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal. For those of us that have gone through a Commissioning already, in addition to the tips listed below, what one piece of advice would you give?
Tips to You Enjoy the Week
Download the USNA app to your phone available in your app store. It will have the most up-to-date information and a map of the Yard.
Remember: You and your guests (16 and over) will always need a Photo ID for admittance onto the Yard.Commissioning Week Tips
One of the most important things to remember is that information and events are subject to change. SEMPER GUMBY (always flexible) is in full force during this week. Things can go wrong! We have to roll with it.
· Your Firstie will still have responsibilities on the Yard, so be flexible. We need to remember that this week is all about them!
· Be prepared for all types of weather. It is frequently hot and humid, but can also change to cold and rainy very quickly. Wear comfortable shoes! You will be standing and walking a lot of the time.
· Confirm your catering arrangements, reservations, etc. before or when you arrive in Annapolis.
· Be sure you have sunscreen, brimmed hats , and water handy for any outdoor events.
· If you are on time, you are already late! Give yourself at least one hour of leeway, especially for the events most important to you. Traffic can be very heavy, but planning ahead can make your week stress free.
· On the Yard, public restrooms are located by Gate 3, in Dahlgren Hall, the Navy Museum, Worden Field Bandstand, the Visitors Center, Mahan Hall, the Midstore, the Nimitz Library and the Commodore Levy Center.
· If you are going the Commissioning parade, bring water and arrive early, especially if you need seating.
· If you are interested in picking up the bottle of whiskey with the engraved class crest, they should be available at Mills Liquors, DTA by City Dock, all week.
· Make sure that all of the batteries for phones, chargers, cameras, iPads are charged the night before Commissioning! It may be a good idea to bring a small portable charger for your phone. The battery drains quickly on the Yard and at the stadium.
· Confirm meeting place for after Commissioning with your Firstie, family, and guests, and make sure to have alternate back up inclement weather plans in the event you have to evacuate the stadium.
· There is plenty to see and do in Annapolis so enjoy your down time!
Graduation/Commissioning Day Tips
· If you did not pass out the tickets ahead of time, remember the tickets!
· Stadium should open at 7am. It is preferable to arrive early; security can be on high alert. You will need your tickets (Entrance AND suite or Akerson if applicable). Pass out the Commissioning tickets before Friday morning so you don’t have to wait for any guests that are running late.
· DO bring a see-through stadium bag
· PROHIBITED items in the stadium: weapons, knives, ceremonial swords, bags larger than a small purse (i.e. duffle bags, regular back packs, large camera bags, etc.) any item deemed to be dangerous or inappropriate. Mace, umbrellas, bottles, coolers, alcoholic beverages, folding chairs, camera tripods, noise makers, seat cushions are not allowed.
· Everyone will pass through metal detectors, and possibly wand screenings, and bags will most likely be searched.
· Bring sunscreen and hat with a brim.
· Refreshments are available for purchase in the concession stands. They will open at 7am when the stadium opens.
· Even numbered companies will be on the Gold side (see the map)
· Odd numbered companies will be on the Blue Side (see the map)
· To remind your guests: Our Firstie will be on the __________ side of the field; Tickets for seating in the Company area is in sections ____ /____.
· General Admission seating is in the Upper Bowl.
· Bring a small towel to dry your seats in case they are wet.
· Don’t be afraid to walk down to the front of your company section to take pictures when it’s your Firstie’s turn!
· Meet at the designated spot after commissioning for photos. Try not to be in a rush to leave. This may be the last time that your Firstie will see many of his classmates for a long time!
· Guests return to hotel to freshen up. Brunch begins promptly designated time.
· BE PREPARED! If there is severe weather, Commissioning will be moved inside to Alumni Hall. In that case, ONLY TWO to FOUR (4) guests per Midshipman are allowed, depending on guidelines. All other family and guests can watch the video streaming of Commissioning at their hotel, or check to see if streaming at Dahlgren Hall is available on the Yard. Space will be limited. Just in case, the streaming can be viewed on any mobile device or computer. Let your guests know beforehand who is able to go to Alumni, Dahlgren, etc. and also remind your guests of your back up, in-stadium inclement weather plans.
My book, A USNA Mom’s Journal – Plebe Summer through Commissioning and Beyond! Everything You Need to Know, has several chapters with Commissioning and Commissioning planning information and tips, and a comprehensive Commissioning chapter covering logistics for the week, the big day, and more. You can also find several podcast episodes below that may offer sadditional insights and information:
And as always, SEMPER GUMBY – some things may change or not go as planned, but you will be able to roll with it. Enjoy the celebration, the time with your Mid and their friends, with your friends and battle buddies, take it all in, and make each moment last as long as possible. It is one of the most special times that you will always remember.
Feel free to reach out with any question on my Fb page. I am always glad to help! And GO NAVY!!!