The Final Countdown: 6 Things a military kid must do before leaving a duty station


Orders have arrived. It’s time to do the stuff you forgot to do at your current duty station! Do you rush to visit all of the cool local attractions? Fit in pizza parties with friends before moving? Or just get to packing and saying “goodbye?”

Here are a few ideas that we think are “must-do’s” when it comes to leaving one duty station for another.  Before you leave:


  1. Snap a picture of your house!

Yes. It’s important. You may not realize it now but one day you’ll try to remember what your house looked like at one of the many places you lived and you’ll have a hard time recalling what it looked like. So whether or not you loved your house, take a picture to remember what it looked like when you get all sentimental and stuff.

  1. Take a drive (or a walk).

We know you are always driving around town to go to lessons, school, or to see friends, but take a drive and just “do.” What do we mean? Take an entire day to drive and just stop at the places you’ve never had the chance to stop at. Maybe there is a donut shop you’ve always wanted to try. Or there’s a neat view from the top of the mountain pass. Have you thought about walking down that path behind the housing area but never did it? Today’s the day! Explore all those nooks and crannies you have always thought about going down before!

  1. Visit the installation displays and museum.

It’s the one museum most people forget to check off their list, but the installation museum (if there is one) and equipment displays around your base or post tell the history of where you have lived. If you haven’t visited them during your stay, take a chance to look at them before you hit the road. Learning your history is a key part of appreciating the community you are a part of as a military kid.

  1. Go to your favorite…

From ice cream to pizza to the theater, pick a couple of your favorite spots for a farewell tour of tastes and experiences. Make sure to plan for this way before that last weeks of a move (things are too busy then)! Who knows? Maybe you’ll return to this duty station but, for now, grab that seat at the counter and get eating!

  1. Get closure.

Take time to walk to your school and take a final look. Go to favorite spots (maybe it’s the the library or a branch up in a tree) and just sit and enjoy. Some kids will want to visit friends and exchange numbers. Others may want to have everyone over to play before their last day in the neighborhood. But plan a way to say “goodbye” to the things and people you have enjoyed before the final day.

  1. Go visit where mom and/or dad works.

Sometimes you never even have the chance to see where your service member parents did the work that kept them busy during your time at an installation. It’s nice to have a quiet moment with your parent to walk through the hallway or hanger of their workplace.

Ask questions you’ve had about what they do during their day. See if you can try on a helmet or see their office. From medical doctors to mechanics to pilots, your parent has a special role in the military. They are part of a team where every member’s role is vital.

Guess what? You are also a part of a team where every member’s role is vital: your military family. Share in the experience of saying “goodbye” together and talk about what’s to come…

…mom and dad may be just as sad to leave certain things behind and may also be excited about what’s ahead.

Chameleon KidsAbout the Author:
Chameleon Kids is the publisher of MILITARY KIDS
LIFE magazine, the only print magazine for kids of service members. We encourage kids to find the bright side of their military life. Find us at