Today I was walking to lunch when I spotted an officer in the distance. I prepared to issue the proper formal greeting and salute…then found myself doing a hilarious little half-salute, half-overexcited wave thing as I exclaimed, “Hey, Commander! How’s it going?” Why the sudden adjustment of military customs? That particular commander happened to be one of the Academy’s sponsor parents, whose family I had visited several times! So, conflicting thoughts of “officer – salute now!” and “Hey, I know him!” resulted in a unique new gesture of acknowledgement. Maybe I can get that into our military etiquette book…
During Swab Summer, the incoming 4/c has the chance to fill out an application for a sponsor family. You are asked questions about where you are from, what activities you enjoy, how you feel about pets, etc. Each cadet is then matched with a family and gets the chance to have dinner with them over the summer. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my own sponsor parents – there are truly no two more gracious and caring people! Plus, hanging out with their menagerie of creatures makes for a very good time indeed! It’s wonderful to be able to go over to a regular home and spend the night watching movies, eating delicious meals, bringing friends over, and doing homework somewhere that is NOT your Chase Hall room! These families are always there to provide support as we navigate the rough channels of Academy life. Sometimes I’ll come off of a tough week at school, frustrated and tired but then, I head over to my sponsors’ and get a chance to relax and refocus under their encouragement. It makes a world of difference at a challenging institution!
Each cadet has the choice to get a sponsor family officially assigned. What has never ceased to amaze me, however, is the willingness of every family to just pick up random cadets and adopt them as well. I experienced this with the aforementioned officer and his family – having met them at the Academy chapel, I wound up over at their house frequently enough that they had no choice but to call me their sponsor cadet. They perfectly exhibit the across-the-board generosity of all of the sponsors in the program. It seems like every family is thrilled to adopt more cadets than just those assigned to them! The corps is truly blessed to have such a strong support base during our four years here. If you are an incoming cadet, please strongly consider finding a sponsor, even if home is just a few hours away! You will not regret it – and your friends, who will undoubtedly wind up following you over to their home at some point, will be just as grateful!
More about Abby.