For most families, it’s hard enough sending their recruit away to boot camp. The Carver family, however, had it harder than most when their son, Cody, headed off to MCRD San Diego to pursue his dream of becoming a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Cody’s dad, Darrell, a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps, was in the midst of a 9 month deployment in Afghanistan when Cody left for San Diego. His mom, Holly, lives on the East Coast near Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where her husband is permanently stationed and she is a Family Readiness Officer. However, Cody stayed in Utah to complete his high school education and enlist in the Marine Corps.
The Carver family sat down with us to talk about how they made it through 13 weeks of boot camp while living coasts and countries apart.
Sandboxx: What was it like for your family as Cody went off to boot camp while Darrell was still in Afghanistan?
Cody: I kept thinking about my dad. Most recruits were saying, “I can’t wait to see my girlfriend or I can’t wait to see my family.” I just kept thinking, “I can’t wait to see my dad.”
Darrell: It was actually a peace of mind for me. Although I knew that it was going to be hard for him, I knew where he was and what he was doing, and that once he got through the tough parts of boot camp, he would come out with a plan for his life and would be on a path of his own.
Holly: Cody actually waited to ship to boot camp. His dad had to miss his high school graduation because of his deployment, so he wanted to make sure that his dad would be able to make it to San Diego for boot camp graduation.
Sandboxx: How did Sandboxx help you to keep in contact with each other during the 12 weeks of boot camp?
Cody: My recruiter told me about Sandboxx, so I knew about it before I got there. I made sure to fill out my Sandboxx Address Card and put my Mom and Dad’s phone numbers on there. Before I left, I told my mom to use Sandboxx Letters because my recruiter said they would get there faster than letters sent through the USPS. I loved getting Sandboxx Letters. I knew every Letter would have a picture.
Darrell: Where we were in Afghanistan, mail is only sent back to the U.S. once or twice a month. Sandboxx was so easy to use, and I loved that I could attach a picture with each Letter. I would send him a picture of us fishing or whatever it was to let him know that those things would still be there after he graduates. The photos were the best part for me.
Holly: I was really sold on the pre-addressed envelopes because I knew that would help him to save time.
Cody: Yeah, we only got an hour of free time each night, if we got it at all, so the envelopes really helped me to save time.
Sandboxx: What was it like to see your dad and family at your Family Day and graduation?
Cody: We were practicing for our graduation ceremony and my Drill Instructor, who really helped me get through some tough times during boot camp, came over to me. We were supposed to be standing very still with our heads straight forward with no expression. He came over to me and said to turn my head half right. As soon as I did that I could see my dad and my family standing on the side, and all I could do was smile. I couldn’t wait to see him. I couldn’t wait to see him in the uniform of the day, and was really looking forward to standing side by side wearing the same uniform as United States Marines.
Darrell: It was great to see him standing there in his uniform, and it was a true honor to be the Parade Reviewing Official for his graduation.
Holly: It’s been great to see his changes. He walks and stands taller. His attitude has changed; he’s more respectful, and talks more respectfully. I’m very proud of him.
Sandboxx: How do you see yourself using Sandboxx as your Marine continues on his journey?
Holly: I certainly plan to continue to use Sandboxx during SOI. I will send Cody Letters each week, so he has something to look forward to.
Darrell: I also plan on using Sandboxx while Cody is at SOI.
Sandboxx: What would you tell families considering using Sandboxx for their recruit at boot camp, or their new Marine at SOI?
Darrell: It’s a great way to keep in touch with your service member while still maintaining the excitement of receiving physical mail from a loved one.
Holly: I read a lot of reviews before using Sandboxx, where folks thought the cost to use the service was more than necessary and honestly didn’t anticipate using it that much. Once I got that text from my son letting me know he signed up, it changed my mind. Further, when I realized how long the traditional snail mail process was taking, and that I could add more pictures by creating a collage, I was sold!
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out you get a slight discount when you purchase credits in bulk, and that you can transfer credits to other users too! I also liked that I didn’t have to start and finish a Letter in one sitting. The app would save it, and I could pick up where I left off when I had the time. It was worth every penny knowing I had the convenience of sending a Letter at any time from anywhere.
Boot camp is not an easy feat for anyone, especially a family that has a loved one deployed overseas. It’s not just 13 weeks away from family; it’s 36 weeks away from your loved ones. Sandboxx is honored to have been a critical mode of communication between a father, serving in a far away country, his mother living on opposite coasts, and his son, pushing beyond his limits to earn the title United States Marine.
Want a chance to share your Sandboxx Story with us? Leave a comment below and let us know how Sandboxx helped you support your recruit throughout training, or share it on social media using the hashtag #SandboxxStory