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Old 10-13-2016, 06:35 PM
 
76 posts, read 62,271 times
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Hello everyone,

My son is currently in boot camp at Great Lakes and I just got word that his graduation date is 11/23...which is the day before Thanksgiving. I heard they might have postponed it until after the holiday, but that didn't happen.

Airfare for this time is crazy expensive! My question is for anyone who has gone up for the graduation, is there any planning advice you can give me? Where to stay, how to coordinate easily, any money saving tips? I've never been to Chicago, so I'm having a hard time trying to figure out where to stay and getting from point A to B and then C.

There will be 4 or 5 of us going.

Thank you!

Last edited by pookybean; 10-13-2016 at 06:36 PM.. Reason: corrected date
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Old 10-13-2016, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Hard aground in the Sonoran Desert
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Hello,

First, congrats on raising a fine young man that is willing to serve his country. I for one am thankful for his service and thankful for your raising him to want to serve his country.

I spent 26 years on the Navy (retired 5 years ago) and have a son on active duty now who went to boot camp in Great Lakes four years ago. Fly into Milwaukee, that is what we did. Flew Southwest into Milwaukee. Flights were cheaper, rental cars cheaper and a much better airport to deal with then O'hare or Midway.

Naval Station Great Lakes is way up north of Chicago near Waukegan IL. We stayed at the Springhill Suites in Waukegan and it was a decent place. I highly recommend you take a taxi to and from the graduation ceremony so you don't have to deal with parking. They will drop you off right up front and you walk in the base.

If you have not looked at it already, lots of information for families on the Recruit Training Command website. Recruit Training Command Home Page

Also, there is a veteran that runs a taxi service who goes by "Sarge". I have no affiliation with him and only know of him through a recommendation when we went to my son's graduation. He has a "meet and greet" the night prior where he serves food and there are some activities (video about boot camp, informational slides, etc.). It is a great place to get information, eat some free food, and meet some other folks from around the country who have kids graduating bootcamp. You can also stick to yourself if mingling isn't your thing and there is even dancing afterwards if you're so inclined. It is worth the time as there is a lot of information put out. He puts this on as a service to Navy families and there is no commitment to use his taxi service, however, we used his service going to and leaving the graduation ceremony and his drivers were great and very knowledgeable. This is a super nice guy and his wife who volunteer and do this for thousands of Navy parents and he has been doing it for many years. It is legit and not a sales presentation or anything. I was skeptical when we went until I seen they are doing it as a genuine service to the Sailors who are graduating boot camp to make it easier on their families when they visit. If interested here is his information...http://www.mynavytaxi.com/events.html

From Sarge's website..."Thanksgiving Graduation is on Wednesday 11/23/16 Meet and Greet is Tuesday night 11/22/16"

Also, we brought my son's cell phone, laptop, and some civilian clothes for lounging around the room. We met him at the airport early in the morning when he was flying to his A School and gave him the cell phone, laptop, and a few civilian clothes. He can't have any of this while at boot camp but most can take them with them to their next duty station which is more than likely their A School.

Last edited by LBTRS; 10-13-2016 at 09:26 PM..
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Old 10-13-2016, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Middle America
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If you book early enough and can get in, the Navy Lodge (located in the Forrestal Village housing and three minutes from the RTC main gate) is quite nice. It obviously fills up whenever there are graduations, though. We lived a couple of blocks from it when my husband was a chief there, and usually stay there when we go there to visit.
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Old 10-14-2016, 05:43 AM
 
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Don't know how far you live away, but can you drive there? We live in Pittsburgh and went to Great Lakes two years ago for a Sea Cadet graduation. It took about 9 hours to drive. I stayed north of the city and used my car to get to the base etc.


Thank you for your sons service
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:08 AM
 
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Glad you are attending your son's graduation.


When I graduated (1965 December 23 San Diego ) we had record amount of sailors but hardly any parents/ family members.
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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Also, when you hear that Great Lakes is "basically in Chicago," it's not. It's actually around 40 miles north of Chicago's downtown. Sometimes, when families aren't familiar with Chicago or the region, they have the idea that it's a hop, skip and a jump from the base to Navy Pier or the Sears (yes, Sears) Tower or Mag Mile for shopping for fun stuff if they make a weekend of it. It's not, though there is a Metra commuter train stop right off RTC, that will take you straight downtown. But it takes a while. As far as driving, it's typically faster to drive to downtown Milwaukee from the base than it is to drive to downtown Chicago. Staying in Chicago, proper, wouldn't give very expedient access to the base, and staying in the vicinity of Great Lakes itself doesn't offer ultra quick access to the parts of Chicago tourists like to visit.
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Old 10-14-2016, 06:43 PM
 
76 posts, read 62,271 times
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Thank you everyone!

I was able to get rooms at the Navy Lodge for $66/night! That is a great deal from what I have seen, and since I didn't really want to get a car the location can't be beat!

We are now figuring out transportation. It looks like either Amtrak or driving. We are in Philadelphia, so it's a 12 hour drive. Depends who ends up coming with us which we will do. The airfare seems to be changing by the day. I'm nervous to wait too long because of the holiday. Thank you to who also suggested Milwaukee, I have added there to the watch list too.

I will definitely look into Sarge, that sounds like a good time. It will be nice to meet some other new Navy moms.

Thank you all again for your responses, they were very helpful!
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:00 PM
 
Location: Middle America
32,665 posts, read 34,052,585 times
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If you go Amtrak, you can catch the Metra north to Great Lakes in the same complex, Ogilvie Transportation Center, or you could rent a car.

The Navy Lodge is a nice facility; I recently stayed there. You could either cab it to the base or walk, I've done both.
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Old 10-14-2016, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Florida
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Unless time is an issue, I would drive. You can decrease the cost significantly by splitting the cost of the rental car. However, you cannot split the cost of tickets. It's going to be whatever it is x4 or x5. But to divide the cost of the rental car by 4 or 5 will save significant money. If those are 4-5 adults who can drive, that 12 hours will go by fast.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:00 PM
 
76 posts, read 62,271 times
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I just wanted to say thank you again and provide an update in case anyone else does a search.

HUGE THANK YOU to those who suggested the Navy Lodge and Sarge! The Lodge was wonderful, such great service and location. We were really close to base (although did not walk to the base itself) and the rooms were very nice. Not fancy, but clean and functional. We ended up upgrading to a kitchenette and the extra space was great to have. We spent some time waiting for Liberty to be called or for my son to go back, having the kitchen and microwave meant we had snacks readily available. There is a NEX minimart two blocks up from the Lodge that had almost everything we needed for a quick stop.

We ended up flying (airfare was crazy, but Amtrak was too). I advise anyone going to BC....suggest to your family they start saving. There was such a short amount of time between finding out when PIR was scheduled and the trip. My son was in DEP, I really should have prepared myself, but I didnt. We flew into Ohare and out of Midway. I liked Ohare better, and it was closer to the base.

SARGE's taxi. So grateful for this information most of all! The meet and greet was fun and informative, the meal was excellent and it is really amazing what this man does for the sailors and their families week after week.

We used Sarge for EVERYWHERE we needed to go. The cost of the taxi rides were cheaper than it would have been for us to rent a car. We went to the meet and greet, WalMart, Gurnee Mall and he brought my son back and forth for Liberty several times. He told my son to go to the entrance of the base and he would get him, and he was there. Our driver was Jack, and he was assigned to us the whole trip. It was nice knowing who would be there and he gave us his cell number, we just had to text him and he came.

Another thing I did not know until I booked Sarge is all the PIR and Navy Family groups on FB. If you know when your SR's PIR date will be do a FB group search....PIR 11-23-16 (example). In the weeks leading up to graduation I talked with so many moms, wives and girlfriends of sailors who were with my son. His letters to me were less than frequent () so I lived a bit vicariously through them and learned so much. We met up at the meet and greet, many were staying at the Lodge and at PIR. A group of us even set up a potluck Thanksgiving Dinner. Some of these ladies I can already tell will be lifelong friends.

One final thing, if you dont travel often make sure your sailor knows how to read a airline ticket and a departure screen at the airport. They let these kids loose at the airports for hours and so many didn't know where to go. I really felt bad for them and helped any way that I could. Glad I was there for 10 hours waiting for my son to leave!


Thanks for getting through this, thanks for your help and if anyone has any other questions please feel free to message me!
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