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Old 04-13-2009, 12:19 PM
mshanson mshanson is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 27
Default Basic Graduation Tips . . . (Ft Jackson)

I've had several PM's about what Graduation Day was like recently. Each time I try to reply in PM I get kicked out before I can finish my reply so I decided to just post the info here . . .

BCT Graduation (at Ft. Jackson)

I would be willing to guess that overall bct graduations are pretty much the same no matter what base it takes place at. An indoor ceremony would probably be a bit different. Here is an account of what we did and some tips for those interested . . .

FAMILY DAY . . .

1. DO NOT MISS FAMILY DAY!!! We actually liked this ceremony more than the graduation day one lol. The soldiers entrance onto the field was far more exciting!!! (I won't spoil it for you but . . . TAKE A VIDEO CAMERA!!!!! (Family Day is NOT on the graduation day video they offer for you to buy) Bummer because we didnt take ours and would have loved to had this to watch later on.

2. You will be told to arrive around 7:30 am on this day but the ceremony won't start for a couple hours. My suggestion . . . go at 7:30 but grab a fast food breakfast to take with you and eat while sitting in the stands. Getting there early is better than later for finding a good seat! The Companies line up from left to right: A, B, C, a middle special group, D, E, F. So look at the stands that way and you can figure out where to sit for your Soldier's Company.

3. There will be a lot of little booths set up selling all kinds of things. Take some time to look around as they have some great T-Shirts and other things. The Army blankets were a nice souvenier!

4. Keep the map of the base that you get. Can't remember but this will either be in the packet you get, given to you at the main gate, or at the ceremony. There are signs pointing you to the field for ceremonies but you will need the map to find anything else on base. These bases are like little cities and most likely your Soldier won't know how to get someplace any more than you will as they have been confined to specific areas during basic.

5. There are places to eat on base but only fast food. Unless your Soldier just insists on fast food . . . I'd take a picnic lunch with you! We took a small cooler of cokes and snacks with us. The Solomon Center has a nice area where you can sit and have a picnic lunch. There is Rock Climbing, Putt-Putt Golf and other things to do at the Solomon Center. There is also a Photography Studio inside the center where you can get your photo taken with your Soldier.

6. The PX was fun to see and this is another place to get photos made. It also has a food court with all kinds of fast food things. They have tables outside but it's hit or miss to get one lol.

7. Drive around and see the Victory Tower, you can get pics from the side of the road. The barracks were interesting as well as some of the training areaas. The Museum was very kewl to see and a nice place to sit and chat as well. If it's raining or cold . . . the Bowling Alley is a great place to hang out. They have the BEST Hamburgers!!! There is a large Arcade and the kids can buy time online. There are also lots of tables where you can sit and plug in a computer or just visit with your Soldier. There will be a loooong wait if you want to Bowl so be prepared.

GRADUATION DAY . . . .

1. GO EARLY !!!!!!!!!! We left at the same time this day as the day before but wound up sitting in traffic thru the same light 7 times lol. There is 3 groups of traffic all trying to get into the base at the same time. Took us about 30 min just to get to the checkpoint and enter the base. Grab breakfast to go and eat in the car lol.

2. You will need SUNGLASSES!!! That time of day the sun will be in your eyes pretty much the entire time, esp if you sit down front. If it is misting or cold . . . those metal bleachers are not great lol. Take a towel or two from the hotel to use. It was so cold when we went that we took a blanket from the hotel with us LOL.

3. After graduation day your Soldier will likely get an off base pass. If your Soldier is like most others . . . they will want nothing more than to take a HOT shower, lay on a comfy bed, watch a movie, and just chat or get online with their computer lol. We enjoyed just sitting around in the room visiting. If it's going to be warm while you are there . . . TAKE A SWIMSUIT not only for yourself but for your Soldier as well. Then spend some time at the hotel pool!

4. If you plan to take your own Video Camera . . . record the ceremony yourself and don't buy the one they sell. I was dissapointed in theirs. Only the grad ceremony was on it and they pan thru the groups so fast it's hard to find your Soldier. We couldnt get the purchased video to play on any computer . . . only the TV. I'm glad we at least took a camera for still shots lol. We did buy the Basic Training video and it was a nice souvenier.

HOTELS - RENTAL CAR . . .

There are tons of hotels and I'm sure many nice ones but the one we stayed at was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! We had the best service I've ever seen at a hotel before. And it was only 10 to 15 min tops from the entrance to the base.

Wingate by Wyndham on Two Notch Road was the hotel we stayed at. We had a King Suite room and it was great! Large VERY comfy king bed and a couch that made out to a bed. Nice size bathroom. Nicely decorated and very clean, excellent staff, great FREE breakfast!!!! Lots of stuff on the breakfast that you could grab and take with you. Hot and cold items as well.

Enterprise Rental Car . . . these guys were AWESOME!!! Nice clean car, fast service. The day we left we overslept and had only one hour to do everything!!! Finish packing, drive to Enterprise to return the car, get to airport, check in and get on plane! It was maddning and how we managed to not miss our flight was a miracle lol. On the way to the car rental place we called them and told them how late we were and asked if they could have our paperwork ready when we arrived. Well they went out of their way and actually met us outside the door with paperwork in hand, checked the car, had the driver in the car and he drove like a madman to get us to the airport in less than 10 mins LOL. They went well above the call of duty here!

Last but not least . . .

If you are a scrapbooker . . . check the PX as you will likely find a group of K&Co military related Scrapbook stuff.

Plan to purchase your Soldier a new suitcase to carry all the extra stuff you bring him or buy him while there lol.

GRADUATION GIFTS . . . this depends on your Soldier but . . . we bought ours a brand new IPOD and had it loaded up with all his fave music ahead of time. He smiled soooooo big when he saw it! We also gave him two $25 gift cards for ITUNES. One of the few times I've seen my son very very excited since he was a little boy lol. Plus a DVD for the entire season of his fave television show . . . remember your Soldier has been "out of touch" with the world during this time for the most part.
We also started a coin collection for him of the Army related coins. These are very affordable, very nice, and can be kept in a clear case, on a stand, or later on put in a shadow box. They have them for all branches of service, MOS, and ranks. Very nice item for a keepsake of his time in service!! You can find these online at most military related stores. Just search: Military Coins. This is also something you can continue to give your Soldier as he moves up in rank and during his term of service.
We also got two books for him: The Art of War and oh I forget the other now but these were purchased from Barnes & Nobel online and were recommended reading for Officers.

So there . . . hope this helps!!!
Hugs . . .
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Last edited by mshanson; 04-13-2009 at 12:35 PM..
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2009, 04:43 PM
LiHer82 LiHer82 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Southern, CA
Posts: 63
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Awww ms your son looks so handsome Great tips!
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2009, 08:12 PM
d'sgirl d'sgirl is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 11
Default thanks so much

your son is very handsome and congrats majorly on this accomplishment, you must be so proud. I am going down to Fort Jackson in one month for graduation, adn thank you so much for adding your tips and sharing about your experiences, this I'm sure will all be very helpful for me as I am preparing for the day!
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2009, 02:25 AM
mshanson mshanson is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 27
Default

Thanks so much for the compliment on my son. Yes, we are very proud of hin!!! Glad you found the info helpfull.

Congrats on your soldiers upcoming graduation as well.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2009, 11:36 AM
klovato klovato is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 27
Default Thank you and Congrats!

thank you so much for the detailed account....I am so excited...29 more days!!!

The IPOD is great along with the DVD...I was also thinking of a camera since they are seeing things sometimes for the first time...

Will you go to his AIT graduation as well?

Kim
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