With PPW in the books, it’s time to strap in

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My favorite picture from PPW, Summer of 2016

It’s been a real joy scrolling through Facebook the past two days watching the Class of 2022 parents reunite on Plebe Parents Weekend. It brought back a flood of great memories.

It’s tough to say goodbye after that reunion, but say goodbye they did and, well, now it’s back to reality. And not just for the Plebes.

Oh, the Plebes have plenty of reality ahead of them. There are still a few days of Plebe Summer remaining, but the bigger deal is that they have the Reform ahead of them – that’s when all the other Mids return to The Yard. And that’s a big ball of wax. On Hell(o) Night, they’ll meet everyone else in their company and while the ritual varies by company, the fact is, they have a lot more faces and names to put together. All of this after receiving their computers, moving into their academic year rooms and getting familiarized with their Fall semester class schedules.

Finally cleared the basement of all his stuff as he returned for the academic year

But as is the standard at the Academy, there are a lot of moving parts. The Youngsters are returning from their first real summer. They’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be in the Fleet on their first cruise and are coming back probably wondering what it’s going to be like going through an academic year not being a Plebe.

Then there’s the Second Class Mids. Talk about a big week – of course, they are getting settled in for what will likely be the most challenging academic year, but right after the Reform, they face the “Point of No Return,” the “2 for 7” … this is Midshipman making his or her final commitment to not only finish out their academics at the Academy but also serve five years in the Fleet. They can leave now without owing anything – time or money. After this academic year starts, it’s a whole different ball game. Most will sign, some will not (more on that at a later date), but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Stressful to say the least.

And then there are the Firsties. They come back as the Big Men & Women on Campus, the top dogs. But they also carry a heavy mantle of leadership and, personally, they are also facing a big decision – service selection. Most have probably made up their minds, but it’s another one of those BIG moments.

Some Plebes will find the academic year more challenging than Plebe Summer. It’s a longer grind and there’s a lot more to juggle. Some will just cruise on through. And the rest of the Brigade will, for the most part, hit their groove and roll on. But don’t let the calm on the surface fool you. There’s a lot going on up and down the Brigade over the next few weeks and the USNA cycle continues at its own pace.

So to the Plebe Parents – enjoy those amazing memories. They are precious. But PPW is no finish line, it’s merely a respite. And now all of the USNA parents are preparing to support their Mids in a variety of different ways for a variety of different reasons.

Here’s hoping for fair seas and following winds for all the Mids.


I did a podcast with my son after his Plebe Year and it was a great conversation. IMPORTANT: I made an egregious error in the podcast, saying it was 9 weeks long. It’s not. It’s six. Proof that if Ernest Hemingway and Edward R. Murrow needed an editor, I probably do, too!

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