BOOT CAMP LETTERS ARE SLOW: Relax and quit stressing about mail because the first letter takes a while. In fact, the first letter will not even be a letter but rather a pre-typed form letter stating the address and short do’s and don’ts. Example: If your recruit starts boot camp on the 27th of January, your first real letter will arrive around February 8th. That’s about two full weeks from the day he leaves. I recommend you begin writing letters to him from the very first day he leaves. Just write a nice one or two page letter each day or every other day, place it in an envelope and stamp it, and have it ready to mail. By the time his address gets sent you in that form letter, before he even sends that first handwritten letter of his own, you will have a small stack of letters ready to send to him. I CANNOT BEGIN TO EMPHASIZE HOW IMPORTANT THESE LETTERS TO YOUR CHILD ARE! When you receive the form letter with the address, start placing a letter a day in the mail for your recruit. Letters take approximately five days each way. If a holiday invades that five days, then it is even longer. Be sure to tell your recruit in that very first letter that it takes five to seven days for each of your letters to reach him and for his to reach you. If you have a stack of letters ready, then it’s easier to be that mom that sends a letter every single day to her child. Think about your child standing with all the others in the platoon waiting for their name to be called for mail. Some of those boys get a letter every single day, and others … only get a letter a week or no mail at all. Don’t let your boy be the one without mail. It is the greatest source of inspiration and support they can receive during boot camp. Now remember this: you may receive several letters from your son prior to him receiving any of yours, in which he says he has not gotten any letters and wonders why no one is writing. It’s heartbreaking to get that from him, but keep in mind that our children were raised in an instant society of texts and cell phones. Many of them have never written a real snail mail letter before. They have no concept of the time involved in sending and receiving letters. You will have to explain that to most of them. You can help them receive more letters by planning ahead a little at their high school graduation. Since both my sons enlisted during their senior high school year, I printed up address labels with my recruit’s name and my home address, placed the labels on the back of his graduation photos and handed them out to all his friends. I then forwarded all letters to my son during boot camp from his friends. Many of my recruit’s friends wrote at least one letter each. The more letters they receive the better your child’s morale will be. Stock up on stamps. I use about six books of stamps for each boot camp. I even write my son’s friends who enlist, because I know how important it is to them. If you are not much of a letter writer, just send cards. Send funny cards, musical cards, cartoons, the funny page from the newspaper, anything at all that is upbeat and makes them smile – but send them something every day. If you just cannot do anything but send cards, then enlist someone else in the family to add a letters to the cards – a sister or sibling, aunt or uncle, grandparent, any one. And don’t expect too many letters in return. My baby, this last recruit, wrote me several times a week, but my first son sent maybe a letter a week, if that. The recruits are very, very busy, and totally exhausted the whole boot camp, and have very little time to write. So tell them it’s okay to just love the letters you send and only write when they can. Then appreciate every tiny morsel of a letter you receive. I teased my son and told him I was like Gollum in Lord of the Rings when his letters came. I would run to my room with it whispering, “My precious, my precious.” He found that so funny, and it inspired him to write more. My husband wrote our son that every one stood against the walls when the mail came so I didn’t knock them down getting to the mailman to see if I had a letter from him.CONTACT ME: [See Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5, 6 for more tips.] I’m happy to answer questions, commiserate, share your triumphs and joys of your recruit, help you provide encouragement; anything at all … just let me know.