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#1
Old 10-03-2000, 09:28 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 10,669
My brother-in-law is about half-way through boot camp and finally sent us an address. I thought it would be a good idea to send him off a care package, as I am assuming that he is lonely and misrable (I have no idea how he actaully is; the letter we got was more or less just an address scrawled on a sheet of paper--if nothing else, he's busy)

I was hoping some dopers with military experience could recomend what to send, what not to send, and fill me in on any rules about packages that I need to be aware of. I am not even sure he is allowed to get packages--that is one of the things I was wondering about. He's in the Army.

I plan on making chocolate chip cookies. It seems sorta traditional, and the boy has a thing for the tradtional. There is a sweater I bought for him last winter and never gave to him that I was going to include--I seriously doubt he brought any winter clothing wiht him, and since he is staying at the camp for additional training after boot camp I am assuming he will have the oppurtunity to wear civilian clothes occasionally; however, I am not sure he will have a place to store it. I know nothing about military life.

He is not much of a reader, but I thought that a book might be a good idea--it is something that you can fit into any schedule, and walk away from as needed. Does anyone else have any good book suggestions for a twenty-year old man/boy whose tastes are pretty much generic gen-X with a double helping of music, and who has read almost nothing? I am a bibliopile myself, and so I am used to recomending books for other bibliophiles.

So military dopers and former military dopers, what did you really wish someone would send you while you were in boot camp? What would have been a waste of time?
#2
Old 10-03-2000, 09:45 PM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Newark, DE
Posts: 669
I attended the Naval Academy's Prep School and while the three weeks of Indoc I went through are nowhere's near what he's going through I remember I was miserable. The physical and emotional exhaustion can get bad.

I would avoid a book; he has enough to learn and learn fast. If he has a spare moment chances are he's shining boots (or commodes), or just taking a breather before the next task comes flying at him. I would also hold off on the sweater. Recruits are very limited in what they are allowed to have, and live in a "everything in its place" world. At least right now. When he moves onto specialty school and has a little more freedom (ie weekend liberty) a sweater might be just what he needs.

I would say look for things the are small, hit hard, and can be carried in the heart. Cookies are perfect. Not only will they remind him of you, but he can share them with his platoon. They'll all appreciate them, so make plenty. Also recent pictures or hometown newspaper clippings. Sure he remembers what you look like, but its small and can always be returned to. But probably the best thing you can give him is your support; make sure he knows that you love him and you support his decision and that you are very proud of him.
#3
Old 10-03-2000, 09:49 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: 8 miles from the beach
Posts: 1,543
Cookies, cookies and more cookies.

Cookies, cookies and more cookies.
Alot of them. He will be obligated to share those delectible morsels with EVERYONE. So make more than about 80 cookies.

Wait to send the sweater until he is in tech school. It will have to be stored in with the civies and he won't be able to get to it for at least a month after he gets to tech school. Then he will appreciate this gift from home.

Oh yeah, remember to send cookies, he will love you and the people he bunks with will love you.
#4
Old 10-03-2000, 09:54 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Buford, Georgia
Posts: 8,011
I advise you to send his something that he can easily share with his barrack mates. If things haven't changed since I was a recruit, he won't even have a say in their distribution. His DS will open the package at mail call to inspect for contraband, then then start flinging the contents into the assembled company. Your brother in law will get no more or less than anyone else, and everyone will be both gratefull as well as appreciate that he's a good sport.

Based on that scenario, your best bet would be to send what's known as "comfort food," since comfort is something these kids are pretty short of. Cookies are good, but imagine the breakage and crumbs from both shipping and then being thrown into a greedy mass of abused orphans, who then have to clean up the mess before they can get precious sleep. I advise a bag of fun-size candy bars like are now available for Holloween.
#5
Old 10-03-2000, 10:02 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 667
Cookies are a slam-dunk. They're always welcome. If you do send them, send a LOT; nothing builds comradery faster than sharing and nothing erodes it faster than selective sharing.

Foodstuffs particular to your home region are also welcome. It also provides opportunities for conversation and discovery. We had some kids from Hawaii in our unit and their families sent them dried fish and abalone jerky. The kids from Oklahoma had never heard of abalone and were leery about us California kids raving over the stuff. (We talked one Oklahoman into swallowing some abalone. He liked it until we told him it was dog. Then he started crying and tried to choke it back up. We later told him the truth [it's basically a big snail], which didn't make him feel much better.)

Music is also a good one, though these guys can get music on the cheap at the base exchange.

I don't know how the military is now, but when I was in (early 70's) we weren't allowed to keep much--if any--reading material other than the Bible. Hometown newspapers are good.

Clothing is also an iffy one. I didn't get to use civvy clothes until boot was almost over.

The best option? Mail. Lots and lots of mail. Nothing keeps the spirits up better than mail every single day. It doesn't have to be news-filled and consequential. Sometimes the wackier the better. And induce his friends to send letters and postcards. It's an egoboost at mail-call and reduces the sense of isolation.
#6
Old 10-03-2000, 11:18 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 5,037
Food! Brownies, cookies, candy, hard candy.
Home stuff - pictures & letters
Those little disposable cameras are good too.

I'd keep the sweater until he is done with boot camp. As for Slithy Tove's post, my DS did not do that. Packages were given out unopened. You shared only what you wanted to share. However, if you got caught with cigarettes or other contraband...
#7
Old 10-04-2000, 03:57 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: In the @#!*&! Desert!
Posts: 1,787
Anything not specifically prohibited, that'll remind him an outside world still exists. You get awful tunnel vision in Basic, by design.
#8
Old 10-04-2000, 09:23 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: GA
Posts: 196
not really qualified to give a reply, but will anyway

talking with recruiters and other people just out of basic, they said the last thing you wanna do is send food, as he will a)never see it, b)be forced to watch the drill sgt eat it in front of him, or c)be forced to eat the whole thing at once.

[hijack]are these just horror stories, or has anyone had this happen to them?[/hijack]
__________________
Added Schmidt: "I tried to be nice and humor him a little. I said, 'Yesiree, that sure is some shocking satanic imagery, no doubt about it. And that one eye with no color in the pupil, very disturbing. I'd sure like to suppress that.' I mean, what do you say to Marilyn Manson?"
-http://theonion.com/onion3703/marilyn_mason.html
#9
Old 10-04-2000, 09:40 PM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Gainesville, VA
Posts: 3,380
From my Basic Training days, most everything we would have been sent went into the storage room. We weren't allowed to bring food into the barracks, civvies were useless, and who had time to read? If the DS saw us reading anything but our Smart Book, we were toast.

Things may have changed since then, or your B-I-L may be experiencing different circumstances. Since he is more than halfway through, he might have a little more leeway.

As OrcaChow mentioned, the more actual mail, the better. It is hard to imagine just how low one feels when mail call comes and there is no letter or card. To hear your name called! Oh, what a bright spot--one that carries through for several days.

If you do decide to send a box of stuff, even if it gets set aside, he'll get it eventually. Remember, his next duty station won't be as strict. They may even treat him like a human being, instead of the scum-sucking putrid waste of life he is right now.
#10
Old 10-04-2000, 09:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Streamwood, IL
Posts: 4,795
Mail mail mail. That's the big winner. Mail with pictures. Mail with the dog's nose print. MAIL.

Sometimes, a touch of cruelty can be fun, too.

When my sister was in Basic Training for the Air Force, I went to Taco Bell, which was her favorite. I took pictures of me eating her favorite food, and mailed them, along with the empty wrappers. I then added to the mix an empty pack of cigarettes.

She was everyone's friend after the wailing and gnashing of teeth ended
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Goethe once said, "A useless life is an early death."
In Goethe's terms, most of you are already dead.
#11
Old 10-04-2000, 10:10 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 667
As for the mail...

Absolutely under no circumstances should the mail contain:

- Photos of the person's back-home paramour fucking the daylights out of the person's best friend.

- "I hope we can remain friends."

- "Your dog didn't suffer very long."

- "You'll be glad to hear we got $500 for your '65 Mustang."
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