Most people go into shock when the weather changes from hot to cold, but that’s only one of the changes the Shick family, especially mom Amy Shick, has gotten used to. They’ve lived in California, Michigan, Georgia, Washington, Germany, Louisiana, Alaska, Florida and underwent a recent Permanent Change of Station move to North Carolina last summer.
It might be safe to say that the Shicks have seen it all.
Army Maj. 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 Fort Benning, Georgia, to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, they went on a five-week road trip that allowed them to fully experience the United States.
Amy Shick explained, “It’s such a blessing to drive across the country.” She also advised 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 Shick said. 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 Shick explained. The Shicks don’t like to think of moving as a chore, but rather an exciting adventure. In fact, they’re even took a detour to Hawaii last summer during their PCS move to Fort Bragg for a 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 Shick explained, “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 Shick 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 Fort Wainwright. He went on to play on a men’s team in Tampa and helped 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 explained, “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 added, “you might just live with them again at a new duty station later.”
In fact, Riley’s best friend from Alaska also moved to Fort Bragg last summer, and she was excited to be reunited with her.
Advice for military spouses
Amy Shick 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 Shick 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 Shick 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 Shick 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 past station at Fort McGill near Tampa, Florida, Amy says that was different from any other installation experience because it felt like a civilian lifestyle since they were living in such a metropolitan area. They looked forward to their upcoming PCS move to Fort Bragg where they get to experience Army life at full force again.Read comments