Navy boot camp is the ultimate obstacle that you have to overcome in order to become a full-fledged U.S. Navy sailor. This series of posts will provide you with answers for every single question you have about Navy boot camp. We will be exploring boot camp week by week and you’ll receive tips you won’t find anywhere else. So lets starts things off with Week 0 also known as “P-Days”.
Navy boot camp is the ultimate obstacle that you have to overcome in order to become a U.S. Navy sailor. Most of you will have questions like “What to expect at navy boot camp?”and “How long is navy boot camp”? This series of posts will provide you with answers for every single question you have about Navy boot camp. We will be exploring boot camp week by week, and you’ll receive tips you won’t find anywhere else. So lets starts things off with Week 0 also known as “P-Days.”
Once you arrive to Recruit Training Command (RTC) there will be some guy or lady yelling at you to get off the bus and walk into a building called Pearl Harbor (the place where they start your check-in process and stuff). Its going to be super quiet in the building (to make you feel nervous). They will tell you to stand in a line and to put your bags on the ground.
Next, you will be given a phone call home to let somebody know you got there safely. This will be a very short phone call so make sure you call someone who will answer. If you have a cell phone, bring it! You can also text if you like. That way if your family or friends don’t answer, you can still say something or just leave a voice mail. Plus having a cell phone usually allows you to talk longer.
After that you will get your foot measured for boots while standing on this fancy looking machine. When you receive them make sure that they fit comfortably because you’re going to be wearing them for 8 weeks straight!
Providing a urine sample for drug testing is next. If you can’t provide a sample, you will stay there and walk in circles and drink from the water fountain until you do. There is no getting out of urinalysis so drink a lot of water before you get there!
You will then go into Initial Issue. Here they will give you a “Ditty Bag” which is just a cloth bag that holds all of your stuff. They will issue basic hygiene items and clothing (basically things like underwear, socks, t-shirts, and sweats). Also, your personal items will be inspected. Most items are not allowed in boot camp, except for important paper work (e.g. copies of SSN, Marriage certificate, Education records…etc.)
Unfortunately you will now strip down naked (to put on your new underwear) and change into your newly issued sweats (“smurfs”) in front of everyone. (Awkward right?) All of your civilian clothes will be either donated or sent home. You will place them in a cardboard box, which everyone calls “The Box”, and mail it home. In this box will also be items that you are not allowed to have in boot camp, like unnecessary paper work, cell phone, …etc. (everything that will be useless for the next 8 weeks). Remember to tell your parents or whomever about “The Box” during the phone call!
Later they will ask for those that have any experience (or interest) in spinning rifles, musical instruments, or singing. If you do, then you may be put in a special division called the “900 Division.”The 900 division recruits will do everything the other recruits do, in addition, they also practice for performances at events such as parades, and recruit graduation ceremonies. You should definitely volunteer for this because your boot camp experience will be more like a band camp!
There is another special division called “800 divisions.” All 800 divisions contain Navy Spec-ops recruits training to be SEALs, Navy Divers, EOD & Special Boat Operators (basically bad-asses). However, they will have much harder physical requirements to meet in boot camp! For the regular recruits, they will randomly form a division with up to 100 other recruits which will either be all male or mixed. (There aren’t any all female divisions.)
Afterwards you will be taken to a temporary barracks called a “ship” where you will meet your temporary RDC’s (military instructors) and start the in-processing Days (P-Days). The reason they call the barracks a “ship” is because every barrack at boot camp is named for an actual ship. The processing barracks ship (the 1st building you visit when you get off the bus) is called the USS Pearl Harbor. Every ship has multiple “compartments” which are large open rooms with about 80 racks (bunk beds), a bathroom, and a laundry room. (Males and females sleep in different compartments.) You also get to choose your rack and 1st bunk-mate.
Once everyone is settled your RDCs will get you ready for the day (It will probably be morning around this time). First thing you will do is shave (for males). After that you will receive a hydration tool (a plastic bottle) for water. You will be instructed on the importance of proper hydration and be encouraged to drink several bottles of water a day. Also, they will tell you multiple times (more like yell) to keep your hands away from your face because of germs.
Soon after they will take you to the galley (basically a cafeteria) for breakfast. There is absolutely no talking in the galley! Also, contrary to popular belief, the food at boot camp is actually pretty tasty. After breakfast you will get the infamous boot camp haircut. Haircuts are mandatory for males and optional for females. (It will look horrible so mentally prepare yourself.)
You will then go to this large room for the “Moment of Truth.” This is where they will ask you to stand up if you ever lied about things like doing drugs, medical problems, or having a criminal background. Everyone gets nervous but don’t freak out. Many recruits have problems with this because they have lied all the way up to this point. If you stand up at the moment of truth, you will most likely be sent home. DON’T STAND UP! Afterwards, it’s back to the galley for lunch.
After you get back to your temporary ship, you will stamp your last name and division number on items and clothes (it takes forever) as well as initial with a permanent marker.
When you’re done, you go eat dinner (which is usually pretty good) and return to the compartment to shower (with other people of course) and get ready to sleep. You’ll probably have been up for about 36 hours at this point and will get the best sleep of your life.
The next few days will be getting medical shots, more stamping, and studying your training guide (a book that you will get tested on throughout your time at boot camp). One of those days you will go to a brief about the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and Post 9/11 GI Bill (for college) and to sign up for a bank account (if you don’t have one). Also, you will most likely start Roving and Night Security watch rotations, which is just standing near the door of your compartment like a security guard or walking around (roving). These will be the easiest yet most boring days at boot camp so enjoy them while they last.
The last night before Week 0 (P-Days) ends, you will meet your permanent RDCs for the first time. They are going to do a rehearsed introduction and then all hell will break loose (screaming, throwing stuff, cursing)! After you’ve been scared shitless, they will leave and you will go to sleep probably rethinking your decision to join the military.
The next day you leave your temporary “ship” and journey to your new home. This is about a 1-mile walk with a sea bag on your back (a large, heavy bag filled completely with the stuff you were issued). They also give you a tour of the base en route but you’ll probably be too tired from walking to pay attention. Once you arrive and get settled your real Navy boot camp experience finally begins!
Note: Recruits are now required to pass an initial run test before they may relocate to their “ship.” The initial run test is 1.5 miles and the maximum time for males will be 16 minutes 10 seconds and 18 minutes 7 seconds for females. If you fail to meet the initial run standard, you’ll have one chance to retest within 48 hours. If you fail the retest, you’ll be discharged from the Navy with an entry level separation. You can, however, reapply at a later date with a waiver from Navy Recruiting Command.