Diaries Magazine

Unit Family Day – Do You Go Or No?

Posted on the 15 August 2011 by Thejessicatuck @thejessicatuck

After 17 years as a Marine wife, I’ve been to my share of family days.  Some have been more fun than others.  Early on, as an eager wife who was super gungho about the military life I enthusiastically attended all unit family days and Christmas parties.  It was a great chance when the mister was a Lance Corporal and Corporal for me to meet some of the guys he worked with and their wives.  We were all young with young kids and our children really enjoyed the kids’ activities and I liked the chance to talk with other wives who were struggling with the same bottle weaning and potty training issues I was.

Now a days there’s rarely any incentive to bring my kids who are ages 16 (almost 17), 14, and 12.  They are typical teenagers and often behave like they’re too cool to get excited about many things.  Their body language and comments are usually filled with lots of ambiguity and a general sense of “eh” to things that really should get them excited.  This family day event was no different.

My husband was playing in the volleyball tournament at family day so when we arrived and met him there he was already playing some warm up games.  Because the kids and I don’t really know a lot of people and the kids don’t have any friends in the unit we really didn’t have any incentive to walk around without the mister.  So, we pretty much hung out for a couple of hours watching Marines play volleyball, which was incredibly amusing.  Marines are awesome and will flavor almost any situation with humor tinged with sarcasm and truth.  So, we had a good time watching volleyball.

By the time that was over we actually walked around and checked out some of the fun stuff going on.

This was actually one of the most impressive family days I’ve seen.  Some of the activities and events included:

A reptile zoo and demonstration.

Air Band competition.

A paintball booth.

A blow-up, moon-bounce style obstacle course.

A mock obstacle course for kids.

A pie eating contest for spouses.

A pie-making contest for spouses.

Volleyball, of course.

Raffles for kids bikes.


Face painting and caricature drawings.


Food – Your typical hamburgers and hot dogs but there were ice cream sundaes and root beer floats for free.  Free shaved ice and popcorn too.

The event had more of the feel of a small carnival or fair rather than an official unit event.

Gone were the typical static displays, boring moon-bounce houses, terrible food.

Even my teenagers were impressed by all of the events and I think they actually enjoyed the reptile show we watched. They were also impressed that I actually touched a 10 foot snake and didn’t scream.

So, even though there wasn’t much for my teens to do, that’s ok, because they think they’re too cool to do any of it anyway.  And, they did enjoy hanging out and watching their dad play volleyball and just listen to the BS’ing that happens any time a group of Marines gather off duty.

I acknowledge that the reality is that there just aren’t many teen military kids.  So even in a unit the size of this one, there aren’t going to be a lot.  So it’s tough to design activities and events that appeal to them.

However, I like the fact that my kids still like to go with me to these things and are willing to not be complete brats about having to be there.  And, at least I got them out of the house for most of the day, which was a welcomed change for me and them.

Kudos to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and it’s subordinate commands and the family readiness officers from each of them for putting together a good family day with new and interesting attractions and getting rid of the same ol’ stale features of poorly done family days.

What do you think of these activities they had going on?  What was your favorite part of your favorite family day events?

I’d love to hear YOUR ideas on good unit family day activities and ideas!


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