Contact Us

The Ultimate Guide to Letters and Care Packages During Plebe Summer

care packages guide mail plebe summer Jun 19, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Letters and

Care Packages 2024

What to Send Your Plebe During Plebe Summer

(and How to Make Sure It Actually Gets There)

As the emotions of Induction Day begin to wear off and the reality that your plebes have now begun their USNA journeys starts to set in, the question that will likely arise in every mind and on every parent page will be: how do I send a letter or care package, and what should I be sending?

Year after year this same question circulates the USNA parent community, and the response tends to be a lot of noise and confusion.

My goal in writing this Ultimate Guide is to create a singular, all-encompassing resource for you to utilize and share when answering this question so that you can avoid the clutter of speculation and opinion. From the nuts and bolts of how exactly to ensure your packages arrive to some insider tips on how to keep your plebe from major embarrassment, I hope this article can be your one-step guide to answering any and all questions related to plebe summer care packages.



If you only read one section of this guide, please let it be this one.

All of the thought and consideration you will put into creating the perfect care package for your plebe will not matter if the package doesn’t arrive, so it is really important that you be careful and specific when sending it. To get the inside scoop on all things mail-related, I followed the guidance in the Permit to Report package ( - mail guidance starts at the bottom of page 21 - and then talked with a friend at the USNA Post Office and got her expertise on the do’s and dont's of plebe summer shipping.

It is very important that you properly address all packages in the specific format that you received in the permit to report package. You can expect the address to look like:

MIDN First M. Last
USNA Class of 2028
X Company, XX Platoon
Annapolis, MD 21412

Plebes will learn their Company designators on I-Day. After Plebe Summer, Midshipmen will receive a P.O. Box number for use in receiving mail. The only zip code midshipmen can receive mail to is 21412.

Do not add extra lines to this format, just address it as given to ensure that your plebes receive what you are trying to send them.  The post office warns any letter or package addressed differently is vulnerable to being returned to the sender.

A question you’ll hear over and over is: “Do I have to use USPS or may I send UPS, Fed Ex, etc.”

The answer is yes, use USPS for all letters and packages that you send your plebes during plebe summer. Anything you ship through other mail services may not arrive.

There are also often questions about sending your plebe items directly through websites or companies that use USPS for their deliveries (take Amazon, for example). In theory, this should be fine as long as the site allows you to enter your plebe’s address exactly as shown above.

However, there are always risks with address re-formatting within the site which might disrupt the items properly or efficiently reaching your plebe, and for that reason I recommend that you ship items using this exact address format or send to your house and then send them directly through the USPS and address it yourself so you know it is correct.  

As for what boxes to use, consider the USPS Priority flat rate boxes. I would not recommend sending overly large or heavy boxes. Space is limited in the rooms, and the detailers have to carry over all boxes so larger packages tend to be a burden.  The academy recommends plebe summer care packages fit in a shipping container no larger than a shoe box to facilitate storage and handling.

If you do not have your plebe's address, they are required to send it to you.  Every plebe is required to write one letter home in the first week. The purpose of the letter is to inform their parents/guardians of his/her mailing address and to increase morale. The only guidance for the content of this letter is that it must include their mailing address. 



The earliest you can start sending mail to your plebes is Induction day (June 27).

Many forums recommend sending a package on I-Day once you leave the yard from the post office in Annapolis. This is good advice if it works for you.

I offer the perspective that getting home and sending it the next day or two (or three) will probably not change the time your letter or package lands in the hands of your plebe.  The post office and detailers are overwhelmed with mail throughout plebe summer but especially in the first week.

There is nothing your plebe needs immediately that you would be sending in a care package so give yourself permission to not feel like it has to go out immediately from the geographically closest post office to the academy the moment you drop your plebe off at the academy.

You cannot drop letters or packages off at the academy.  Packages must be sent via mail; no packages will be accepted at the Main Office for delivery to midshipmen.



Plebes will be issued official P.O. boxes before parent's weekend. Your plebe will (should) communicate and share this with you when P.O. boxes are assigned.

Once plebe summer ends, your mid will be assigned a PO BOX and the mailing address for your plebe will change and if you use the plebe summer address format, it will not get to your plebe. Look out for another article on that in the near future with instructions on how to address that mail and when the cutover happens.  

Please subscribe to my email list to make sure you are not missing this and other key articles.



The post office may guarantee you it will deliver your package within two or three days to the academy, but that’s where all guarantees end.   Throughout plebe summer the mail system is dealing with a high volume of letters and packages.

It may take days or more than a week from the time your mail arrives at the academy to be delivered to your plebe during Blue and Gold one evening.  You might hear on forums that plebes are not receiving their mail, it is being held for X reason, etc.  I recommend you disregard these rumors.

Plebe Detail staff will not hold mail or secure mail privileges as a means of punishment.

They are busy and they are doing the best they can.

I encourage you to adopt an attitude of send it and forget it.  They will eventually get it, but if you are sending something time sensitive or perishable you may be disappointed in the results.



Other questions that constantly arise regard how packages actually get into the hands of your plebe once you have sent them off. The reality is that plebes won’t have access to a package locker or anything of the like during plebe summer; rather, all packages will be received by the Academy post office who will then distribute them to the plebes’ respective detailers.

At the end of the night, the detailers from each company bring up their company’s mail and packages to their area in Bancroft Hall.   Plebes will line up with their company in the hallway as their detailers call out the names on the letters and packages. If your name is called for a care package, you “stick out your paw” and a detailer puts the package at your feet and opens it up and inspects it for contraband. If you have a letter, it is just dropped at your feet.

Once Blue and Gold is over, you may go to your room and you have a few minutes before curfew and lights out to read your letter(s) and/or go through your care package. You are not supposed to be reading your letters once lights are out but I can admit now I read many a letter only by the light from the moon shining through the window.



Now that we’ve worked out the nuts and bolts of plebe summer mail, we can talk about the fun stuff: what to actually send your plebes.

Here is the direct guidance from the Naval Academy on care packages:

“Care package” is a Midshipman term for goodies from home and is a very effective morale booster. However, during the controlled training environment of Plebe Summer, the sending of junk foods to a plebe is highly discouraged. Please provide the following guidelines to anyone who will be sending care packages:

  • Please limit the size of the shipping container to no larger than a shoe box. All food should be shipped in an airtight container.
  • All items should be single serving and non-perishable. There are no refrigerators available in Bancroft Hall for food storage.
  • No medications, vitamins, or pre-workout are allowed.
  • Junk food is highly discouraged during Plebe Summer.
  • The regimen of Plebe Summer is a controlled training environment and requires adherence to a healthy diet. Due to health concerns and storage limitations, excess junk food that cannot be stored or consumed immediately will be disposed of.
  • Some suggestions for things to include in care packages:
    – Individually wrapped granola bars or energy bars.
    – Letters from home.

Now with all that said - here are some personal recommendations of things that worked well for me:

Compression Shorts, Underwear, Sports Bras, etc.

I highly recommend that you send additional compression shorts for male plebes and female plebes.

Underwear for your male mids and for your female mids and sports bras.

And while they will be issued enough to get by, the issued undergarments are not necessarily the most comfortable, and plebes tend to lose or misplace things here and there. And, with the amount your plebe will be running around and sweating, it is virtually impossible to have too many of these items. Therefore, a shipment will be extremely beneficial.

While no one will be checking the color of their underwear, we wear primarily white uniforms so staying with a color that is consistent with white uniforms is prudent.  

Blue and black compression shorts are the only colors approved to be worn under physical training gear during plebe summer.

I personally found the under armour brand compression shorts to be the best for overall comfort during the hot and sticky Maryland summer under my PT gear.


Chafing is a real issue in the Annapolis heat. This goes along with sending your plebes’ favorite undergarments, but send some Body Glide or anti-chafing powder. It will make a big difference.  This kind of product is included in this year’s issued gear so no rush to get it to them.

Stain Removers

Let me say this: if your plebes are anything like me, they will have a lot of trouble keeping their uniforms clean. I would send your plebe some Tide Pens or Shout Wipes to work out stains. Some plebes also use white chalk to quickly and temporarily cover up a stain, so it might not hurt to send them one of those as well.


While USNA does issue the plebes toiletries, the honest truth is that many plebes really appreciate having the shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors (no electric shavers), deodorant, etc that they prefer. I would also recommend sending some additional chapstick and Gold Bond foot powder…even if your plebes don’t think they need it, trust me that they do.


The other go-to for care packages is snacks. If your plebe has a favorite snack, send it to them. There is a trend on discussion boards suggesting that you must send “healthy snacks.”  People often advise to send granola bars and trail mixes and the like, and I would encourage a small amount in the first care package. That being said, there are very few moments during Plebe Summer in which plebes have time to stop for even 2 or 3 minutes to eat. They are constantly running from place to place and are rarely in their rooms throughout the day. Therefore, one of the only moments when they can enjoy a snack is during “personal time,” which is the half an hour at night given for plebes to shower, write letters, and prepare for the next day.  

Now after a long day (because every day of Plebe Summer is a long day), I really did not want to eat another pack of trail mix or a PowerBar. I wanted to indulge in some Double-Stuffed Golden Oreos or some fruit snacks.  The guidance from the academy that discourages sending junk food, but not prohibiting it.  And those sweet treats held me together at the end of the day lol.

Now, if your plebe loves healthy snacks, then send them healthy snacks.

What is truly important here is that you send them something that will make their day even a tiny bit better.

I am not surprised by the discourse around sending only healthy snacks in care packages. During my Plebe Summer in 2013, our detailers in the 26th company took our unhealthy snacks away from time to time and told us that we shouldn’t be “eating weakness.”

I believe that does not happen anymore, but whether or not your plebe will be able to keep his or her snacks will depend entirely on the company and detailer, and so you might as well send some just in case. If plebes’ snacks are getting confiscated, they’ll let you know in their first letter home.

Also, keep in mind that plebes do not have access to refrigeration nor do they have a lot of storage space. The recommendation that you’ll see again and again is to send the contents of your care package in plastic Tupperware like boxes so that they can protect their snacks from possible hungry mice lurking throughout Bancroft. And, for a general rule of thumb, plebes’ storage space is roughly the size of two shoe-boxes, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what and how much to send.



My recommendation is don't send too much or any contraband.

What is too much?

Plebes typically receive too much food in care packages. To standardize the amount of food that plebes can have, detailers will manage that process for them.

Plebes receive a re-sealable plastic container as part of their initial box issue on I Day. Plebes must store all food items they wish to keep in this container on one of the shelves below their desk in accordance with their company rules. They must throw away items that will not fit into the container or give them to their classmates. Your plebe may choose which items to keep and which to get rid of. 

What is contraband?

Items that offend the sensibility of naval service and are prejudicial to good order and discipline are considered contraband.

Follow the guidance from the Permit to Report package and use common sense to determine what things are not appropriate for the training environment of Plebe Summer and violate the spirit of this definition.


So this brings me to letters.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can send your plebes are letters, so send them many and send them often!

Share your plebe’s address with friends and family and encourage them all to send your plebe a quick bit of inspiration. A lot of plebes will appreciate photos that they can put on the cork board at their desk in their rooms.

Put letters in sealed envelopes.

Letters are great and your plebe will appreciate them immensely. But what your plebe might not appreciate is if you send them the wrong way. Because detailers are required to search any and all care packages for “contraband,” anything is fair game for the detailers to give your plebe a hard time about – even letters.

My mom loved to leave open, cute notes at the top of my boxes saying, “I love you, Boo! Thinking about you!” and those brought me the kind of attention I was not looking for.

But detailers are not allowed to open envelopes.

So if you want to send a plebe a love letter or something cute and emotional, just do him or her a favor and keep it sealed.

Also, those of you with a loved one going through plebe summer – be it a sibling, child, friend, significant other, relative, etc. – will want to hear from your plebe.

Therefore, there are a couple of things you can do to minimize the amount of time it takes your plebes to update you on their lives and maximize the amount you hear from them.

The first tip is to send them pre-addressed envelopes so they don’t have to waste any time doing anything besides writing to you. Another tip is to create fill-in letters with prompts that allow you to know what you need to hear from your plebe. At the end of a long day, they are going to be drained, and thoughts might not come freely flowing to their heads.  Some question or prompts you might want to include would be:

  •      “Send me more of: _______”
  •      “Stop sending me: _______”
  •      “The training evolutions we did this week are ______”

I’ve included seventy-five examples at the very end of the article you may cut and paste into your own letters if that is helpful.



I wanted to also touch on some items that you have probably seen recommended on forums that may or may not be as necessary as discussion boards make them out to be.

The first thing you might run into time and time again is that you should be sending your plebe a mini American flag. There has been a rumor that plebes might get in trouble if there are more plebes in a room than there are beds at one time, but that a flag on one’s desk “neutralizes” this and means the plebes can’t get in trouble.

I have never seen or experienced it!! 

This was not something that happened in my company during Plebe Summer, and it was not something that ever was discussed or even mentioned during my time in the regiment as Plebe Summer Regimental Commander.  And it most certainly is not a high level directed stipulation.

That being said, everything really does depend on a plebe’s specific company and detailers, so it is definitely possible that it once did happen, and who knows - it could be relevant for your plebe. So, if you want to send your plebe a
mini American Flag for his or her desk, go for it. Every room is better off with a little patriotism anyways. But don’t stress out about getting one for your plebes unless they specifically ask for one.



There are also questions about sending general care packages. There are plebes who receive no letters or care packages for a variety of reasons.  If you feel this is something you would like to do, I recommend you do.

If you would like to send a general care package to the plebe class via our Chaplin center, please address your care package as follows:

Any Plebe

Attn: Chaplins Center

101 Cooper Road

Annapolis, MD 21402

The chaplains rely on the detailers to let them know who might need support or who might not have received anything from home as of yet. You can include a letter providing additional support or encouragement.

They (the plebe) may then contact you directly through a letter if they want to.  You can use a fill in the blank type response letter with a self-addressed envelope if you wish. I can tell you that the plebes who receive these are incredibly grateful. Many people report that they hear back from the plebe that received the package, but most importantly know you brought some joy to a plebe who otherwise would not have received anything.

Just to be clear: The Naval Academy will provide the plebes with everything that they need to survive Plebe Summer. Therefore, any and all care package suggestions are just that: suggestions. Don’t feel like your plebe has to have any or all of the items mentioned in this article; they are strictly bonuses. But if you do choose to send something, I hope this article has given you some ideas and answered any questions you might have had.


Grant Vermeer is the founder of Academy Insider (a 501(c)3 nonprofit), and the host of The Academy Insider podcast and the USNA Property Network Podcast. He was a recruited athlete which brought him to Annapolis where he was a four-year member of the varsity basketball team.

He was a cyber operations major and commissioned into the Cryptologic Warfare Community. He was stationed at Fort Meade and supported the Subsurface Direct Support mission.

He separated from the Navy in 2023 and now owns The Vermeer Group, a boutique residential real estate company that specializes in serving the United States Naval Academy community PCSing to California & Texas. 

Connect with Grant Vermeer, The Academy Insider here:


Use these prompts to craft/cut/paste/edit your fill in the blank letters:

  1. I got through I day and it went ____________________
  2. I couldn't remember __________________ when they asked me
  3. I'm really good at ____________________
  4. The thing I remember most about the experience was ____________________
  5. I am in ____________________ company and ____________________Platoon
  6. My squad leader is ____________________ from ____________________
  7. The culture of our platoon is ____________________
  8. I wish someone would have warned me about ____________________
  9. I'm really glad I knew ____________________
  10. I really miss ____________________
  11. I could really use ____________________ in the next care package
  12. I have ______ roommates
  13. Roommate #1 is named ____________________from ____________________
  14. Roommate #2 is named ____________________from ____________________
  15. Roommate #3 is named ____________________from ____________________
  16. The food and King Hall has been ____________________
  17. The best meal has been ____________________  
  18. The worst meal has been ____________________
  19. My favorite meal so far is (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and favorite food at that meal is ___________________.
  20. I currently have the following injuries ____________________
  21. The training evolutions I have done recently are ____________________
  22. I enjoyed ____________________
  23. I need some improvement on ____________________
  24. My favorite detailer so far is ____________________
  25. Please tell me about ____________________  in your next letter
  26. The person in my squad I would most like you guys to meet is ____________________ because he/she is so ____________________
  27. The highlight of the week has been ____________________
  28. I went to religious services and it was ____________________
  29. They fed us ____________________
  30. On Sunday in my free time I did ____________________  
  31. I have received ____________________  amount of letters from you
  32. I have received letters from ____________________
  33. I have received____________________  of care packages
  34. PT is ____________________
  35. This is some more information about my roommate(s)
  36. These are the things the fellow plebes do to be supportive of one another:
  37. Please send me ____________________
  38. The hardest thing I have had to do so far:____________________
  39. I liked this the best: ____________________
  40. This was the worst thing: ____________________
  41. This was the dumbest / most frustrating thing: ____________________
  42. This is some of the stuff that they are teaching us that is cool: ____________________
  43. I am sleeping about ____________________ hours each night
  44. I am losing / gaining weight +/_ ____________________  pounds
  45. I want you to bring on plebe parents weekend ____________________
  46. I need some more ____________________
  47. __________________is the most supportive person here that I have met because____________________________________________.
  48. I hear that we will be doing ________________________in the next week
  49. I am anxious about ___________________________________________________________and am looking forward to ______________________________________________________.
  50. The weather here is ____________________
  51. The weather here has been _____________, temperatures in the _______, and very (circle) humid, muggy, rainy, dry, windy, ___________
  52. In regards to sleep, I get about __________hours and I feel (circle) a little tired, tired, rested, refreshed, most of the time.
  53. I get to bed about ________ and wake up about _______.
  54. I miss eating ___________________ and would like it when I come to visit you.
  55. We never get to _____________________, but we can ________________and I had not expected to be able to do that.
  56. I love_____________________________________________________the best of all we do (not eating or sleeping), but I
  57. Hate_______________________________________!
  58. I do this really well. I got complimented for_____________________________________ and I know I am good at ___________________________________________________.
  59. I messed this up: ________________________________________________________________ 
  60. __________________________________happened because I did _______________________
  61. I took it (well, beating myself up, depressed, it happens, happy because I won’t do that again) (circle those that apply).
  62. My best friend is ____________________ from ___________________.
  63. So far my favorite place at USNA is________________________________________________.
  64. I dream about ____________________
  65. My company officer is ____________________
  66. My senior enlisted leader is ____________________
  67. My alpha numer is _________________________________
  68. My regimental commander is _________________________________
  69. My detailers like to make us do ________________________ during gray space
  70. These are some of the meals we eat:





















  1. Draw a map of your room on the back if you have not already sent one.

  1. This is a map of where my room is in relation to T-Court. . x = me

  1. This is a map of my room and how it is set up.

  1.  Please have __________________ write me a letter

  1.  Please have _________________ on the next call if possible