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Graduations

The Marine Corps hosts formal graduation ceremonies for many of its milestone courses. 

On this page we'll discuss which graduation ceremonies you should attend, and how to make the most of your trip.

This will be a celebration of huge accomplishments for your family!

MCRD San Diego, CA

MCRD Parris Island, SC

OCS/TBS, Quantico, VA

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Which Graduations Should You Go To?

You will not want to miss the moment your loved one earns the title. This means attending graduation at Officer Candidate School and Recruit Training.

 

Families do not attend graduation at the School of Infantry or MOS Schools, but can for some of the longer programs.

Families also are invited to attend officers' graduation from The Basic School.

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MCRD San Diego, CA

When to come, Where to stay


If you can come Tuesday evening, we recommend that. You can explore the Depot on Wednesday, taking a tour and visiting the museum. Coming on Wednesday is fine too, as you will arrive before Thursday's family day. Since Thursday's events are early in the morning, we recommend arriving no later than Wednesday night. You'll want to stay close enough to get to the Depot easily. San Diego has tons of cool neighborhoods - to consider staying in. -Ocean Beach and Mission Beach are great because it's typically 15 to 30 minutes to the Depot, near the beach, and near amenities like Seaworld. There are tons of great restaurants -Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, and Bankers Hill have tons of sights to see like restaurants, shopping, and more within a stone's throw of the Depot. -South Park, North Park, University Heights, and Mission Valley are all great quiet neighborhoods, quickly accessible to the Depot. There are lots of large parks and spacious areas to walk through and stay at.




What to wear, how to act


During family week, parents and family members are asked to dressed modestly. Shorts, skirts, shirts, and pants are all acceptable. Basically anything that isn't a cut off or tank top. Don't wear anything excessively revealing, tattered, worn, or damaged. Additionally, it is asked that your attire doesn't have political slogans, crude statements, or inappropriate logos or graphics. Lastly, you'll want comfortable shoes because you will do lots of walking and standing around over these few days. While on the Depot visiting your new Marine, realize there are many other companies still going through training. Do not interfere with training by approaching Drill Instructors or other recruits. On this depot, there are lines painted on the ground indicating the boundaries family members should not pass. Have fun, stay out of the way of training companies, and celebrate what your Marine has just completed!




San Diego Grad Week Schedule


Most graduations go on Friday, with family day on Thursday. Families typically begin arriving on the Depot Wednesday morning. Although they cannot meet their new Marines that day, the Depot Museum will be open and there are tours of the Depot you can go on. On holiday graduations (like the day before Thanksgiving), Graduation is on a Wednesday with Family Day on Tuesday. Family Day is for new Marines to showcase their transformation to you, the families. In the morning, there is a company motivational run, followed by a Colors raising ceremony. You will be able to pick up your new Marine around 10 AM and go out in town with them. Many families choose to go to the PX to shop for Marine Gear and other items, taking advantage of the tax free shopping and other savings. You'll have to get your Marine back on base before 9PM, otherwise they'll be in a lot of trouble! Friday morning is the day you've been waiting for! Graduation ceremonies happen first thing in the morning, around 8:30 AM. You'll want to record as much of this as possible! Once the ceremony is over, grab your new Marine and get off base as quickly as possible. If you're not one of the first to leave, you'll be stuck in a long line of cars and base traffic. At that point, enjoy your time on the Depot, check out the PX one more time, and then leave around lunchtime when the crowds have thinned out.




Family Day Ideas


Most families go to the Depot on Family Day, see the training areas, and head to the PX first stop. We recommend getting off the Depot and saving the shopping for Friday. Head to SeaWorld where your new Marine will get free admission and check out the exhibits or head to the beach. For dinner, check out any of the amazing restaurants in Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter. If you're in the mood for a quieter day, swing by Balboa Park and have a picnic or take a nice walk. San Diego is a great town with plenty to do. The Depot is right in the middle of it all.




Boot Leave Activities


Boot Leave is not guaranteed and we have seen it cancelled in cases of emergency, such as the Corona Virus outbreak. During Boot Leave, your new Marine will typically have ten days between graduation (Friday) and when they have to check in at the School of Infantry (Monday a week later). You'll get to bring your Marine home and show them off with your family and friends at home. Make sure everyone gets a good look at them, as they'll be heading off to training and then their fleet unit and it could be a while before they come home for a bit again. While home on boot leave, you'll want to feed your new Marine all their favorite food and drinks they haven't had for the last three months - feel free to. Just remember that they have to get back to training soon, and for many they are in the best shape of their lives.




Recruit Photos, Family T-Shirts, and More


MCRD San Diego will take photos of your recruit the entire time they're in Boot Camp. Recruits can (and should!) order their personal "dress blues" photo and their cruisebook. They also sell a slideshow DVD full of all the photos taken of their platoon throughout all phases of training. These should be ordered by the recruit during training, but you may order copies of them afterward through the Marine Corps Community Service website or by calling the yearbook office at (619) 296-3840. The yearbook office keeps records for two years. Additionally, you can order customized shirts from the Depot with your Recruit's face on them, platoon number and more to wear on family day and graduation here. For other gifts, signs, and items you can pick up on the Depot, click this link.





 

MCRD Parris Island, SC

When to come, Where to stay


If you can come Tuesday evening, we recommend that. You can explore the Depot on Wednesday, taking a tour and visiting the museum. Coming on Wednesday is fine too, as you will arrive before Thursday's family day. Since Thursday's events are early in the morning, we recommend arriving no later than Wednesday night. You'll want to stay close enough to get to the Depot easily, but also want to have things around to do. Parris Island isn't in the most populous of places, so you'll want to choose a neighborhood appropriate for the experience you want to have. Consider staying in: -Port Royal and Beaufort are the two closest towns to Parris Island. Beaufort has a cool waterfront with lots of shops and restaurants with a Lowcountry flavor. -The Habersham neighborhood is quiet, near the Depot, nice and stowed away. -For a more spirited stay, check out Bluffton or Hilton Head. With tons of restaurants, shopping, beaches, and activities, there is plenty to do. These places are 30 to 60 minutes away from Parris Island, so you're trading a commute for the amenities available.




What to wear, how to act


During family week, parents and family members are asked to dressed modestly. Shorts, skirts, shirts, and pants are all acceptable. Basically anything that isn't a cut off or tank top. Don't wear anything excessively revealing, tattered, worn, or damaged. Additionally, it is asked that your attire doesn't have political slogans, crude statements, or inappropriate logos or graphics. Lastly, you'll want comfortable shoes because you will do lots of walking and standing around over these few days. While on the Depot visiting your new Marine, realize there are many other companies still going through training. Do not interfere with training by approaching Drill Instructors or other recruits. On this depot, there are lines painted on the ground indicating the boundaries family members should not pass. Have fun, stay out of the way of training companies, and celebrate what your Marine has just completed!




Parris Island Grad Week Schedule


Most graduations go on Friday, with family day on Thursday. Families typically begin arriving on the Depot Wednesday morning. Although they cannot meet their new Marines that day, the Depot Museum will be open and there are tours of the Depot you can go on. On holiday graduations (like the day before Thanksgiving), Graduation is on a Wednesday with Family Day on Tuesday. Family Day is for new Marines to showcase their transformation to you, the families. In the morning, there is a company motivational run, followed by a Colors raising ceremony. You will be able to pick up your new Marine around 10 AM and go out in town with them. Many families choose to go to the PX to shop for Marine Gear and other items, taking advantage of the tax free shopping and other savings. You'll have to get your Marine back on base before 9PM, otherwise they'll be in a lot of trouble! Friday morning is the day you've been waiting for! Graduation ceremonies happen first thing in the morning, around 8:30 AM. You'll want to record as much of this as possible! Once the ceremony is over, grab your new Marine and get off base as quickly as possible. If you're not one of the first to leave, you'll be stuck in a long line of cars and base traffic. At that point, enjoy your time on the Depot, check out the PX one more time, and then leave around lunchtime when the crowds have thinned out.




Family Day Ideas


Most families go to the Depot on Family Day, see the training areas, and head to the PX first stop. We recommend getting off the Depot and saving the shopping for Friday. Head to the Beaufort Waterfront you can walk around and see where scenes from Forrest Gump were shot, check out the shopping and restaurants, or look at the history of one of the oldest towns in America. If you want to get away from the crowds, head down to Bluffton for lunch in Old Town and a walk amongst the relaxed feel of a small town. Some families just buy charcoal and fire up the grills located on base and have a barbecue or picnic for lunch. For dinner, check out any of the amazing restaurants in Bluffton, Lady's Island, or downtown Beaufort. Some of our Beaufort favorites are Q on Bay, Luther's, Dockside, La Nopalera, and Bricks on Boundary. Many local restaurants allow the new Marine's to eat for free, such as Fat Patties and Panini's.




Boot Leave Activities


Boot Leave is not guaranteed and we have seen it cancelled in cases of emergency, such as the Corona Virus outbreak. During Boot Leave, your new Marine will typically have ten days between graduation (Friday) and when they have to check in at the School of Infantry (Monday a week later). You'll get to bring your Marine home and show them off with your family and friends at home. Make sure everyone gets a good look at them, as they'll be heading off to training and then their fleet unit and it could be a while before they come home for a bit again. While home on boot leave, you'll want to feed your new Marine all their favorite food and drinks they haven't had for the last three months - feel free to. Just remember that they have to get back to training soon, and for many they are in the best shape of their lives.




Recruit Photos, Family T-Shirts, and More


MCRD Parris Island will take photos of your recruit the entire time they're in Boot Camp. Recruits can (and should!) order their personal "dress blues" photo and their cruisebook. They will only have on shot to do so! They also sell a slideshow DVD full of all the photos taken of their platoon throughout all phases of training, which you can order here. Additionally, you can order customized shirts from the Depot with your Recruit's face on them, platoon number, gifts, signs, banners, and more for family day and graduation here .





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OCS/TBS, Quantico, VA