Most people go into shock when the weather changes from hot to cold, but that’s only one of the changes the Shick family has gotten used to. They’ve lived in California, Michigan, Georgia, Washington, Germany, Louisiana, Alaska, Florida, and are currently planning their next PCS move to North Carolina this summer.
It’s safe to say that the Shicks have seen it all.
Army Major Jason Shick and his wife, Amy, have three children: Maddie (16), Brady (13), and Riley (10). Amy says that they should probably win an award for changing schools more than any other kids in the country. Maddie has attended 10 different schools, Brady has attended six, and Riley has attended four. Fortunately, they’ve also all been able to play competitive hockey at an elite level throughout all of these moves. Over the years, the Shick family learned the importance of making the most out of their PCS moves.
Focus on the journey of a PCS move, not the destination
One thing that the Shicks have mastered is the art of the PCS road trip. Of course, they’ve had plenty of experience. The Shicks like to make their PCS move a vacation of its own, which ultimately makes a would-be stressful experience a lot of fun. When the Shicks moved from Ft. Benning in Georgia to Ft. Wainwright in Alaska, they went on a five-week road trip which allowed them to really experience the United States.
Amy Shick explains, “It’s such a blessing to drive across the country.” She also advises everyone to “get off the freeways and take your time to really make an adventure out of it.”
The Shicks like to zig-zag their way to their destination, stopping to stay with friends and family along the way, so they hardly ever stay at hotels. “We try to see as many people as we can,” Amy says. They also don’t hold themselves to a strict schedule, which allows them to spend as much time as they want with their friends and family.
“We like to allot time for spur of the moment plans with our loved ones,” Amy explains. The Shicks don’t like to think of moving as a chore, but rather an exciting adventure. In fact, they’re even taking a detour to Hawaii this summer during their PCS move to Ft. Bragg for Amy’s family reunion.
Tips for adjusting to a new area
Often, kids (and parents) get overwhelmed by the prospect of transitioning to a new area. The Shicks have advice for the whole family. When it comes to transitioning into a new school, Amy explains, “Each kid is so different, so I think taking each kid into account is so important.”
For example, she explains that all three of her kids are extroverts, but each one has a different approach for making friends in a new school. She says that Maddie makes friends very quickly, while Brady watches for a few weeks before choosing who he wants to be friends with, and “Riley just shows up and crowns herself queen.”
As a parent, Amy explains that she researches schools a lot beforehand and shows the kids things at their school to get excited about. Hockey is one of the activities that really helps the Shicks adjust to a new area. Amy says that they’re extremely fortunate to have had hockey in each of their locations over the years considering that hockey isn’t the most popular sport — especially in certain states. Even Jason played hockey for Army Alaska at Ft. Wainwright. Now he plays on a men’s team in Tampa and helps coach the kids’ youth hockey teams.
Overall, all the Shicks agree having a positive attitude about a PCS move is key to adjusting to a new town. Maddie explains, “Even if you don’t like it when you first get there you will end up falling in love with it”. Riley also points out that leaving friends can be hard, but FaceTime is an amazing way to keep up with them. She adds, “you might just live with them again at a new duty station later”.
In fact, Riley’s best friend from Alaska is also PCSing to Ft. Bragg this summer, so she can’t wait to be reunited with her.
Advice for military spouses
Amy also notes that it can be challenging for military spouses to acclimate to a new city. She recommends getting involved. Because she works from home, Amy makes a majority of her friends by engaging in the area. She encourages others to join a spouses’ club. And, by choosing a local church, families can meet people nearby with similar values. She also likes to volunteer at her kids’ schools to meet other parents. Amy explains that having a school-aged kid is basically like hitting the jackpot because elementary school moms are so involved at school.
Key to a successful PCS
The Shicks have the art of the PCS move down to a science. Their key to success is their excitement towards each new duty station. Amy explains that Army life is such a blessing and it isn’t something to lose sight of. Army life has rubbed off on the children as well. Maddie is currently considering doing the ROTC program in college for the Army and Brady wants to be in the NSA, FBI, or Army when he grows up.
At their current station at Ft. McGill near Tampa, Amy says that it’s been different from any other installation experience because it feels like a civilian lifestyle since they’re living in such a metropolitan area. They’re already looking forward to their upcoming PCS move to Ft. Bragg where they will get to experience Army life at full force again.Read comments