WHAT TO WRITE: I have had many parents tell me they cannot think of enough things to write so they can send “daily” letters of support. I find that sad and upsetting. I sent my sons letters two to four pages long every day of boot camp, and if I was going to be away or miss a day, then I sent a card. It will cost you a fortune in stamps, but it will secure and strengthen the relationship you have with them in a way you never thought possible. Write about your daily routines. Write about the family laughs, fights, picnics, dinners, gossip, etc. Write about new television shows, new movies you’ve seen, upcoming movies, and such. If your child has a favorite television series they are missing, then go online and find the daily synopsis of the show and include it so they can keep up with it. In every letter tell them how proud you are of what they are going to accomplish, and rave about each accomplishment they make. Tell them you know this is the hardest thing they have ever done or ever will do, but when it’s over, they will be a Marine and will be proud of what they accomplished. Do not send food of any type, porn or catalogs with scantily dressed women, or anything except letters and paper goods. The only things I send to my son other than letters are sheets of address labels with his return address and mommy’s on them, the funny page from the newspaper, a page of clean jokes, tips for beating the obstacle course and other weekly boot camp training (all of which can be found on Marine Parent websites online), moleskins for blisters for hiking, funny musical cards, funny cards to make him laugh and perk him up, small catalogs of some things he really enjoys like computers or a new cell phone (because he will have his own money to spend now and they love the catalogs for their first dreams), and photos of family. My son said the whole barracks loved his musical cards because he was the only one with tunes! I tried to make the musical cards coincide with various weekly training events – like “Bad to the Bone” for the night hike, and “We are the Champions of the World” for the Crucible, and “We are Family” just before Family Day and Graduation. His platoon buddies also liked the catalogs and passed them around. The catalogs are nice incentive for the completion of boot camp. It reminds the recruit that they are being paid to train and have some of their first paychecks waiting for them. Write a lot about the fact they are being paid to train, get paid medical and dental, get paid vacations that the first of which happen right after boot camp, and have job security in this shaky economic climate. I make sure to keep tabs on some of my son’s friends who stay behind so I can tell them about the part time job at McDonald’s that only one friend could find because no jobs are out there, or the friend still living with their mommy and getting chewed out for not helping with the bills, or walking around with no car in the heat. I also remind my son of the top level training he will receive in school after boot camp that he gets paid for while learning. It’s important to keep pointing out all those perks your son or daughter is receiving and will continue to receive while most people in this economy are going without. Also, send your son or daughter a print out of what each week of boot camp has in store for them. My son loved the layout, and the tips I included with it. I looked online for other recruits who had finished boot camp and asked for their best recommendations of help for the Crucible, obstacle course, gas chamber and such, and made sure to send the tips and weekly update prior to each week’s challenges. He was thrilled and shared them with all his platoon buddies. Lastly, keep in mind recruits are sometimes forced to open their mail in front of everyone, especially if the package is unusual in size or over sized. Never put anything embarrassing in the envelope. One mother sent her son a nylon to use for cleaning his rifle. A nylon really works for that, but it is not worth the whole platoon teasing him over it. Write to your recruit, write just one small page a day if that’s all you got, but write to him, write about anything, everything, nothing. I assure you, he will love whatever you say.