This is the web site of the United States Air Force Academy Parents’ Association of the National Capital Area. Any parent or guardian of a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet, graduate, or cadet candidate residing in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia area is eligible for membership in the Association.
An Appointment to become a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy is an extraordinary honor. For many, it is the culmination of a life-long dream. It also is the beginning–the beginning of a four-year, extremely challenging regimen of academic, physical, character, and military training. The environment is intense and rigorous. The first year, known as the “fourth class” year, involves the greatest adjustment–primarily for the cadets themselves, but also for their parents.
Being the parent of an Academy cadet is quite unlike being the parent of a student at a traditional college or university. At a conventional college, the student has left home and largely becomes responsible for himself. That also is true of cadets at the Academy, but, in addition, they are responsible to each other and to the United States Air Force. They are required to live in accordance with a variety of rules, restrictions, and traditions whose collective goal is to strengthen and mature them, teach them leadership and life skills, and ready them to serve as leaders and officers. Parents recognize that their cadets are subjected to extraordinary challenges and pressures, yet have only very limited knowledge of the nature of their training. The unique environment at the Academy, together with limited knowledge of the experience, leads to uncertainty in many parents regarding how they can best support their cadet.
That is where our Parents’ Association comes in. Our purpose is to support the parents and their cadets. We provide information, camaraderie, and a greater feeling of connection to our cadets and their experience. In the end, we hope we enrich the experience of parents during their cadets’ years at the Academy and play a role, albeit secondary, in the success of their cadets.
Our Association also sponsors a variety of other activities. In February, we hold a dinner to honor that year’s graduating cadets and their parents. There is a picnic for all members in the spring. In June, we hold another dinner to recognize new Academy Appointees and their parents, just before the Appointees report for Inprocessing at Colorado Springs. Newly commissioned Second Lieutenants and area cadets who are home on leave are invited to attend the dinner and answer questions from the new Appointees. We also hold a July picnic to support the parents of “basic cadets” who then are in the midst of the rigors of basic cadet training.
The Association sponsors many activities during Parents’ Weekend at the Academy every Labor Day Weekend. There are dinners, a tailgate before the football game, an informal get-together on the last night of the Weekend, as well as reduced rates at Colorado Springs’ hotels. In the fall, we sponsor an outing to the Air Force football game at either West Point or Annapolis. We cap off the year at the All Academies Holiday Ball, jointly sponsored with area Parents’ Association for the other Academies. Other special activities are held throughout the year.