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Surviving Military Boot Camp
Part IV Navy Basic Training
   
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Surviving Basic Training
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• What the Recruiter Never Told You
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Like the Air Force, the Navy only has one location for boot camp: The Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, halfway between Chicago and Milwaulkee. Unlike Air Force Basic Training, much of Navy Boot Camp is conducted indoors. Yep -- there's indoor marching and drill, the confidence course is indoors, and even weapons (Shotgun and pistol) are fired indoors. (This makes a lot of sense if you think about it -- much of Navy life and duty is spent inside a ship or submarine). The Recruit Training Command processes more than 54,000 recruits through Navy Boot Camp, per year.

As with Army and Air Force Basic Training, there are several things you should do in advance to prepare yourself for Navy Boot Camp. First and foremost is to get into some semblance of physical shape. I recommend you read and follow the U.S. Navy Personal Training Plan Booklet several weeks before you depart. You should also practice the rudiments of drill and ceremony, as well as memorize Navy rank and ratings.

Additionally, your recruiter should have told you to memorize the 11 General Orders for a Sentry, and the Navy Chain of Command, as it relates to a Naval Recruit.

As if that's not enough to study in advance, you should also learn the Navy Core Values. Navy Boot Camp is probably one of the most "classroom-intensive" of the four primary military services (including written tests!), so the more you can get out of the way in advance, the less you will be struggling with when the stress really hits the fan.

Also, as with the Army and Air Force, your recruiter will give you a list of what you should or should not bring with you to boot camp. Unlike the Army and Air Force, the Navy won't store your excess civilian clothing until the end of boot camp. After your first uniform issue, you'll be given a choice of sending your civilian clothing home (at your expense) or donating them to charity. Therefore, as far as civilian clothing is concerned, you should pack very, very light. Again, as with the Army and Air Force Basic Training, if it ain't on the list, don't bring it. If its on the "Do Not Bring" list, then definitely don't bring it.

Some Tips from a Shipmate

  • KNOW the 11 General orders.
  • KNOW all of the details pertaining to rate/rank recognition.
  • Learn how to make a rack (bed) with 45 degree corners.
  • Practice ironing military creases in a long sleeve, button down, collared shirt (which would be similar to the Utility shirts issued in Boot Camp)
  • I strongly suggest reading the Bluejacket's Manual. Pay particular attention to Damage Control, Seamanship, First Aid, Uniforms and Grooming, and History.
  • Memorize the phonetic alphabet.
  • Attend all DEP meetings!
  • Stay fit (or get fit). Jog, do push-ups, sit-ups, etc., The PT is not hard, but if you're in shape, it can be fun.
  • At least advance to E-2 by completing your DEP PQS. You may not care now, but I'll tell you, it sure is nice to graduate with a couple of stripes on your sleeve, instead of nothing. And, of course, it will help you out down the road!

Above contributed by SWCN Frey, a recent graduate of Navy Boot Camp

If you're a tobacco user, give it up. As with the other services, smoking, or the use of tobacco products is not allowed in boot camp. In fact, the Navy probably has the most restrictive tobacco policy in this sense. Smoking, or use of tobacco products is not allowed by anyone, either inside, outside, or within vehicles, on the Recruit Training Command Base (this includes visitors who may come to see you graduate).

If you don't know how to swim, try to learn before you leave for boot camp. Soon after you arrive, you'll be screened for swimming skills, and those that can't swim will have to undergo special instruction in the Kiddy Pool (General Advice: when in boot camp, it's always better not to require "special instruction" in anything). Actually, remedial swimming instruction is not that bad. Each cycle, several recruits show up at boot camp who can't swim, so this portion of the training is kind of "just another course," in many aspects. However, I have heard cases of phone priviledges being denied until week #6 for folks who failed the swim qualification test.

Medication. Over-the-counter medication is not allowed in basic training. If you bring any with you, it will be taken away. All prescription medication will be re-evaluated by a military doctor upon arrival. If the doctor determines that the prescription is necessary, the civilian medication will be taken away, and the recruit will be re-issued the medication by the military pharmacy. This includes birth control pills (for women). Women are usually encouraged to continue taking birth control pills during basic training, if they took them before going to basic, to ensure that their systems maintain their regular cycle.

I'm often asked what females do during their (to put it politely) "time of the month," at basic training. The answer is nothing different. Pads and tampons are readily available, and women use them and continue with training. Bathroom breaks are given often enough that changing pads/tampons are not a problem. Many women report that they don't have a cycle during their entire time at basic training, due to the high levels of activity and stress. The thing to remember is that thousands of women have been to basic before you, and they survived just fine.

All military pay is done by "direct deposit." This means, in order to get paid, you must have a checking or savings account established at a financial institution. It's a *very* good idea to have an account with an ATM Card or Debit Card, so that you can access your money without writing a check. If you establish an account before you depart to Great Lakes, make sure you bring a deposit slip with you, so you can give the information (bank name, routing code, and account number) to the finance folks when you inprocess. If you don't have a bank account established before you depart, don't worry. You'll have an opportunity to open an account (you need to deposit $5.00 to open an account) at the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) at Great Lakes. They have all the forms pre-filled out, and all you have to do is open the account, then give the form to the finance folks during inprocessing. You can also open an account with Armed Forces bank, but not both.

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