What To Expect During Military Boot Camp (2023)


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Navy Recruits Go Through the Paces at Great Lakes

What To Expect During Military Boot Camp (1)

The U.S. Navy only has one location for its boot camp: Great Lakes Naval Training Center, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, near Chicago. This is where the Navy molds its newbies into ensigns, putting them through the arduous basic training that will serve them throughout their military careers.

The Recruit Training Command processes more than 50,000 recruits through Navy boot camp every year. Here's what to expect from Navy basic training.

Preparing for Boot Camp

There are several things you should do in advance to prepare yourself for Navy Boot Camp. First and foremost is to get in shape. If you arrive de-conditioned, you will likely fail the standards or get injured.

Also, 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 extra,special instruction, which you want to avoid if at all possible.

If you are a tobacco user, give it up. As with the other services, smoking, or the use of tobacco products is not allowed in boot camp.

Must-Know Information for Navy Recruits

Navy Boot Camp is probably one of the most "classroom-intensive" of the four primary military services so the more you can prepare in advance, the less you will be struggling with when the stress really begins.

  • 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 "hospital" corners
  • Practice ironing military creases in a long sleeve, button-down, collared shirt
  • Read the Bluejacket's Manual. Pay particular attention to Damage Control, Seamanship, First Aid, Uniforms and Grooming, and History.
  • Memorize the phonetic alphabet. (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie...)

How Long Is Navy Boot Camp?

Navy boot camp consists of eight weeksof training. Here's how it breaks down.

The first few days at the Recruit Training Center (RTC) are a whirlwind of activity. The first military drill you learn: how to stand at attention.

Once the paperwork is completed, recruits will be issued Navy sweatsuits which they will wear until the first uniform issue. At this point, recruits box up all of their civilian clothing, and any personal items that they brought that weren't on the list. They can either ship these items them back home, or donate them to charity.


Next recruits will be taking a mandatory drug test by urinalysis.

After that first day, normal days will run from 0600 (6 a.m.), with a loud whistle to awaken all recruits until lights out at 2200 (10 p.m.). Precisely at 10 p.m., lights go out.

Even though uniform items at boot camp are issued (free), many items are not. The first night at boot camp all recruits are given a number of hygiene items, shoe polish, sewing kit, T-shirts, PT shorts, sun tan lotion, some other miscellaneous items plus a chit book for the Navy Exchange.

Recruits with eyeglasses will get issued glasses at the eye exams. Once they've graduated from basic training, sailors can wear the civilian glasses again, as long as they conform to military dress and appearance regulations.

Recruits get assigned to a division consisting of about 80 men and women. The divisions are housed in gigantic 1,000 person dormitories, which are called "ships" in the Navy Recruit Training Command. While men and women train together, they do not room together.


7 Tips for Surviving Military Boot Camp

Guard Duty: Learning the Orders of the Sentry

In the Navy, guard duty is called "Standing Watch." It means that sailors get to spend significant amounts of time guarding the ship, conducting a fire watch, snow, and security watches.

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After observing the recruits for a few days, the RDCs will select "recruit leaders," known as "Recruit Petty Officers" in various areas of responsibility. The RDC will select those recruits who, during the first few days showed that they were "squared away."

Recruit Petty Officers are charged with preserving good order, discipline, and security within their respective division. Any violation of good order, discipline and security will be reported by the Recruit Petty Officer to the chain of command for disposition.

During the remainder of this first week, known as P week, recruits learn the correct way to make beds and fold underwear and receive medical and dental exams. Classroom time is spent learning the basics of grooming and uniform wear, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), standards of conduct, discrimination, and a few hours with the chaplain about values. Additionally, the RDC will introduce the division to a couple of sessions of physical training.

First Full Week of Navy Boot Camp

During the first week, initial swim qualifications are conducted. Before graduation boot camp, all recruits are required to pass the requirements in swimming, treading, jumping into the water and drown-proofing. Also during this first week, the RDC will introduce the division to the complexities of military drill (marching).

Classroom learning during week one will be about rank/rate recognition, rape awareness, equal opportunities,sexual harassmentand fraternization, and core values. The first week is also the most intensive week of physical conditioning.

Second Week of Boot Camp

During the second week, recruits receive dress uniforms and have them tailored. The classroom work will consist of a course on professionalism, test taking, Navy chain of command, watch standing, and customs and courtesies. Recruits take the first written test, covering all the subjects that were taught so far. Of course, physical training and drill will continue through this week.

Recruits run the Navy Boot Camp Confidence Course. It is designed to simulate obstacles one may have to encounter during a shipboard emergency. Recruits wear OBAs (oxygen breathing apparatus, standard equipment for shipboard fire-fighting) carry sandbags, toss life rings, and climb through a scuttle (a small circular door) with full seabags. Recruits complete the course in groups of four. The object is to cross the finish line as a team, not as individuals.

Third Week of Boot Camp

During the third week, there is less classroom learning, and more on-hands learning. Theclassroom work will consist of training about Naval history, laws of armed conflict, money management, shipboard communications, navy and aircraft (fixed wingandrotary wing) and basic seamanship. The week will finish with the second written test.

After that recruits get to practice basic line-handling skills and get direct experience and practice in first aid techniques.

Fourth Week of Boot Camp

During this week, recruits will get to shoot weapons such as the M16 and shotgun. Recruits will also take the physical fitness test which consists of sit-reach, curl-ups, push-ups, and a 1 1/2 mile run.Also during the fourth week, the dress uniforms are ready and recruits take graduation (yearbook) pictures.

(Video) What New Air Force Cadets Go Through On Day One At The Academy | Boot Camp

Week Five of Navy Boot Camp

Recruit training and administrative tasks such as focusing on career selection typically take place this week. Recruits may brush up on skills they've learned so far, including:

  • Increasing the number of live rounds fired with the M-9, 9mm handgun from five rounds to 40 rounds
  • Firing five “frangible” training rounds on a Mossberg shotgun
  • Extensive anti-terrorism/force-protection briefings on threat conditions, history of terrorism and steps sailors can take to present less of a potential target
  • Taking computer classes and familiarization with Navy jobs
  • Taking eight one-hour mentoring sessions, with RTC staffers and an RDC

Week Six of Navy Boot Camp

During the sixth week, drill continues along with more physical training. Recruits also receive basic training on damage control and firefighting.

This is also the week when recruits will be trained in the gas chamber. They each have 30 seconds to put on gas masks while the petty officer is lighting the tear gas tablet. The petty officer will instruct recruits to take off the mask, and remove the filter cartridge, throwing it in a trash can, while stating their full name and Social Security number. Tip: Eat light on gas chamber training day. It's intense.

Week Seven of Navy Boot Camp

During the seventh week, recruits receive classroom training on the history of the uniform, grooming standards,dependent care requirements and terrorism. Another written test will document how much recruits have retained.

Also during week seven, recruits practice fire-fighting skills in an actual "shipboard" fire-fighting exercise.

The week winds up with Battle Stations, a fun, culminating event of Navy Boot Camp. It's designed to wrap everything learned about swimming survival, teamwork, fire-fighting, damage control, and more into one massive 12-hour hands-on exercise. At the end, recruits receive their hats. It is the ceremony that marks them as sailors.

Week Eight of Navy Boot Camp

Assuming all recruits pass Battle Stations, the final week consists mostly of out-processing, practice for the final pass-in-review, and (of course) a little more classroom training. Even though the recruits at this pointhave passed the final physical fitness test, physical training still occurs.

Finally, on either Thursday or Friday, recruits get to put on the dress uniforms and make that final pass-in-review.

If you've passed all your requirements (especially Battle Stations), you'll spend most of the following weekend on "Liberty," before continuing on to "A School" (which is what the Navy calls its technical school) or a direct assignment.

(Video) What Army Recruits Go Through At Boot Camp


What can I expect at military boot camp? ›

Basic training schedule. Expect paperwork, physical exams, immunizations, haircut, uniforms — and your first physical fitness test. If you don't pass this test, you'll be placed in the fitness training company for additional training. Then you'll have two chances per week to pass the test.

What is the hardest thing you do in basic training? ›

Red phase is the starting phase and is typically considered the hardest part of training. The entire phase, which is 3 weeks long, is devoted to constant calisthenic exercise and you will be spending much of your time in the push-up position.

How hard is it to fail Army boot camp? ›

​Yes, it is possible to fail basic training. You could go through the trouble of leaving your home, job, family and friends and come back a failure. In fact, this happens to about 15% of recruits who join the military every year. Too many recruits I speak to think that it is impossible to fail basic training.

Why do recruits fail basic training? ›

The most common reason why people fail basic training is that medical issues prevent them from doing so safely. If this situation arises, you'll be medically separated from the Air Force but depending on how long you serve, you may still be entitled to some veteran benefits.

What is the first day of basic training like? ›

Basic training typically begins with the bus dropping off all recruits, at which point the drill sergeant will command them to get out as fast as they can, followed by lining up. The drill sergeant may also instruct the recruits to perform various exercises, such as pushups or jumping jacks.

What does a day at basic training look like? ›

During the first week, you will start Physical Training and typically first thing in the morning. The typical day throughout Basic Training runs from 0430 (You got to get up very early in able to "do more before 9 am than most people do all day"), with lights out at 2100 (9:00 PM).

Which Bootcamp branch is hardest? ›

U.S. Marines

Of course, when you reach the top, you can find them becoming SEALs or a part of the Marine Raider Regiment (MRR), but the training of any Marine is some of the hardest military training in the world. Even outside of Special Forces, Marines have to be ready for both land and sea combat.

Which branch has the easiest basic training? ›

  • The US Air Force is considered the easiest military branch overall. ...
  • The US Army is considered the easiest military branch to get into, Image: Wikimedia.org.
  • Air Force basic training is considered the easiest out of all of the military branches. ...
  • The US Air Force is considered the easiest branch for women.
Feb 22, 2023

What is the red phase in basic training Army? ›

Red Phase (Weeks 3-4)

During the second phase, known as the Red Phase, you'll train to handle weapons and equipment, as well as learn other hands-on aspects of being a Soldier. These weeks include: Weaponry: Begin training with your assigned weapon. Combat Skills: Learn hand-to-hand combat skills.

What can get you kicked out of basic training? ›

How to Drop Out of Marine Boot Camp
  • Failing Physical Tests. One way to be sent home from boot camp is to repeatedly fail the physical tests. ...
  • Sustain a Serious Injury. If you suffer a serious, debilitating physical injury during training, you may be sent home. ...
  • You Have Chronic Medical Issues. ...
  • Your Principles Don't Align.

What happens to people who fail bootcamp? ›

If a recruit has been recycled and still cannot pass the assessment, then they will be given an Entry-Level Separation (ELS). An ELS is given at the leadership's discretion. Processing an ELS can take weeks or months, and those awaiting processing are usually given some form of manual labor to pass the time.

How do you survive basic training? ›

10 Tips to Take to Basic Training
  1. Have an appreciation for rules and regulations. ...
  2. You are the master of your own discipline. ...
  3. Focus is your friend. ...
  4. Don't let it get to you. ...
  5. Master being part of a team. ...
  6. Be a leader in the culture of fitness. ...
  7. Show up knowing the language. ...
  8. Get on top of your finances.
Sep 23, 2021

What percent of people pass basic training? ›

Graduation. Approximately 90 percent of all enlisted recruits complete Basic Training and graduate.

What percentage of people quit basic training? ›

The Navy, Army, and Marines have recruits drop out at roughly the same rate as each other, between 11 and 14 percent annually. Contrary to what many think, the goal of officers in basic training isn't just to push recruits to drop out.

Do you need to be in shape for basic training? ›

We recommend that you work out at least 3-5 times per week, and at least six weeks prior to Basic Military Training. (Note: For your health and safety, you should consult a doctor prior to beginning this or any physical fitness regimen.)

What time is bedtime in basic training? ›

In all the branches' basic training programs, bedtime is usually 2100, or 9 p.m., except during times of special events, such as night exercises. In basic training, lights out means go to sleep.

Do you get enough sleep in basic training? ›

During training exercises, service members may sleep fewer than five hours per night. Typically, that five hours is split up into multiple episodes of sleep, usually lasting less than two hours each.

How much time do you get to shower in basic training? ›

The total running time of this kind of shower can last less than two minutes – using an initial thirty seconds or so to get wet, followed by shutting off the water, using soap and shampoo and lathering, then rinsing for a minute or less.

Do you shower in basic training? ›

Cleaning Up: Showers

In basic training, you take group showers. There's no way out of communal showers. They're required. Everyone in your barracks will enter the shower room assigned to your barracks when commanded.

Do you get Sundays off in basic training? ›

Is basic training 7 days a week? The red and white phases last about three weeks, while the blue phase lasts for four weeks. If you enroll in boot camp, expect to be on duty seven days a week, though you might get several hours of personal time on Sunday since it's a day with lighter responsibilities.

What do you do the first week of basic training? ›

Week 1 begins with the recruits meeting the drill sergeants who will be responsible for their training throughout Basic Training. The drill sergeants pick up their recruits from Reception Battalion and either transport or march them to their company area.

What branch has the shortest boot camp? ›

Coast Guard Recruit Training

How long is basic training in the U.S. Coast Guard? USCG Recruit Training, or “forming”, is the shortest of any military branch. All in all, it takes approximately 7.5 weeks to finish Coast Guard boot camp, including in-processing.

Is it OK to say Oorah to a Marine? ›

Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.

What military branch is the easiest? ›

At the background clearance check stage, the easiest military branch to join is the Army or Navy. At the ASVAB stage, the easiest military branch to join is the Army or Air Force. At the basic training stage, the easiest military branch to join is the Air Force.

What branch is the first to go to war? ›

The Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations.

Which branch is least likely to combat? ›

The Coast Guard is the least likely to see combat, as they are a part of Homeland Security and play a different role in protecting the United States. Every military branch has a different organizational structure. Within that structure, some units and troops focus on training for combat.

What is the shortest military contract? ›

The U.S. Army has expanded its two-year enlistment options, making it easier for individuals who may not be comfortable making a four- or six-year commitment. Under this option, after basic and advanced training, new Soldiers would only be required to spend two years on active duty.

What rank are you out of basic training? ›

Private 2nd Class (E-2) Private 2nd class (PV2) is the first promotion most enlisted soldiers can earn after completing BCT. The private's job is to apply the new skills and knowledge learned during basic training and to continue to learn how to follow orders given by higher-ranked supervisors.

What is a 3 day pass in the Army? ›

Three-day pass — the longest continuous pass granted allows a serviceman or servicewoman to be away for 72 consecutive hours. Often granted in recognition of special achievement or as a reward, especially as a way of granting a three-day weekend.

Do they take blood at basic training? ›

Medical Exams: You'll go through a general medical exam that includes a blood test. Females will have a blood test for pregnancy on Day 1, and a regular blood test on Day 2.

What happens if you cry in basic training? ›

What happens if a recruit cries while in the military boot camp? Absolutely nothing! Boot camp is DESIGNED to break you down as an individual. It will stress you to your breaking point for the simple reason to make you understand that isn't really your breaking point.

How much money can you take to basic training? ›

MONEY > $10 - $50 in cash > Traveler's checks or money orders (personal checks are not recommended because of limited check-cashing facilities.) YOUR ORDERS > Be sure to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit recruiter and/or MEPS.

Can you walk out of basic training? ›

After you arrive at boot camp, your fate still isn't sealed. Even though you're now on active duty, Army command can let you go without penalty during your first 180 days of service. The official term for this is entry-level separation.

How many people quit bootcamp? ›

Across Branches of the Military

The Navy, Army, and Marines have recruits drop out at roughly the same rate as each other, between 11 and 14 percent annually. Contrary to what many think, the goal of officers in basic training isn't just to push recruits to drop out.

Do most people pass boot camp? ›

What percentage of people pass boot camp? What is the percentage that makes it through the Marines boot camp and graduates? Almost everyone, it's a 11–14% failure rate. USMC is designed to take any old kid off the street with average to below average physical and mental capabilities and put them to work.

Do you get your phone in boot camp? ›

Trainees will use cell phones only under direct supervision of a staff member. 4. Trainees are authorized access to their personal cell phones during the fourth week and at the end of the seventh week of training to firm up travel arrangements with family and guests.

How do I mentally prepare for bootcamp? ›

If there's one skill you need most at basic training, it's mental toughness.
How to Best Mentally Prepare for Basic Training
  1. Don't give away their power.
  2. Focus on what they can control.
  3. Don't blame others.
  4. Aren't worried about pleasing others.
  5. Don't give up after a failed attempt.
Apr 17, 2022

What's the best age to join the military? ›

While many recruits enter the military right out of high school, some take their time and consider joining the military at 25 instead.
Why Joining The Military At 25 Is Ideal
  • You'll be more mature, have more life experience.
  • You're still physically fit enough to serve.
  • You're typically 'mentally tougher' in your mid-20's.
Aug 5, 2021

How many people get hurt in basic training? ›

Reports estimate that an average of 60% of women and 27% of men are injured during basic training. This article explores one of the most common basic training injury types, and offers strategies for new cadets to help avoid them.

What clothes do you sleep in at basic training? ›

Physical training uniform - Wikipedia

. They'll give you everything that you need to and will wear through basic training. You don't wear pajamas, you wear your issued PT uniform to bed every night, because you're gonna be getting up and doing PT first thing in the morning.

Is basic training physically hard? ›

Army Basic Training is both physically and mentally demanding, but knowing what to expect before you get there will help you start off on the right foot for your Army journey. And at some point during basic, you'll be grateful for any leg up you can get.

How long does basic training last in a day? ›

If you enroll in boot camp, expect to be on duty seven days a week, though you might get several hours of personal time on Sunday since it's a day with lighter responsibilities. Days last for 14 to 16 hours, beginning at 0500 hours or 5 a.m., with lights out at 2100 hours or 9 p.m.

Who has the longest basic training? ›

The Marine Corps has the longest basic training -- 12 weeks, not including four days of in-processing time. Counting the half-week you spend in forming (in-processing), you'll spend a total of seven-and-a-half weeks in Coast Guard basic training at Cape May, (N.J.,) the shortest basic training of all the services.

How much money do people have after basic training? ›

Every enlisted recruit starts out as an E1, and can expect an annual salary of around $20,170.80. BMT is 10 weeks, so the average E1 payment for basic training is around $3,800 plus meals and housing.

Can I join the military if I'm out of shape? ›

Are there any physical fitness requirements to join? You won't need to meet any physical fitness requirements before joining the Army as an enlisted Soldier. There are requirements if you join through ROTC or another Officer path—your recruiter will provide the details.

How many clothes should I bring to basic training? ›

Clothing: 2-day supply of casual, comfortable clothing. 1 pair of comfortable shoes. 6 pairs of white, calf-length athletic socks.

Do you workout everyday in boot camp? ›

To succeed in boot camp, you should prepare yourself physically and mentally. Daily cardio, weight training, pushups and situps are a must.

What happens the first week of Army boot camp? ›

Week 1 begins with the recruits meeting the drill sergeants who will be responsible for their training throughout Basic Training. The drill sergeants pick up their recruits from Reception Battalion and either transport or march them to their company area.

How much sleep do Soldiers get in boot camp? ›

Sleep During Training

U.S. Military Academy cadets sleep fewer than five hours during the week and are woken up several times during the night for training. Even on the weekends, when they're encouraged to sleep more, they still get fewer than seven hours. Those in Ranger School only get around three hours per night.

What should I know before boot camp? ›

Before You Go
  • Get all personal matters in order prior to leaving. ...
  • Be prepared for discipline. ...
  • Take some time to learn about military life. ...
  • Visit your doctor before you start training. ...
  • Set realistic fitness goals. ...
  • Don't forget to warm up and cool down. ...
  • Time yourself. ...
  • Drink plenty of water.

Do you go home after boot camp Army? ›

Do Soldiers come home after basic training? Soldiers are not often given time to go home after basic training. Check-in for AIT School is most often the day after graduation, if not the same day.

What is the red phase in basic training? ›

Red Phase (Weeks 3-4)

During the second phase, known as the Red Phase, you'll train to handle weapons and equipment, as well as learn other hands-on aspects of being a Soldier. These weeks include: Weaponry: Begin training with your assigned weapon. Combat Skills: Learn hand-to-hand combat skills.

How early do you wake up in boot camp? ›

Getting That Morning Wake-Up Call

In military basic training, there's no such thing as sleeping in. You'll get up at 5 a.m. every single day. Waking up in the morning is an adjustment process that's the same for every single basic training class.

What kind of food is at basic training? ›

Most military chow halls today include an extensive salad bar, a station for full meals such as fried chicken, seafood, Mexican food and pastas, along with a snack line that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, fries and other junk-food items. Plus, you're allowed to consume sodas and dessert!

Do they beat you in boot camp? ›

They don't hit or physically assault recruits, ever. They come close, but they never physically hurt or even touch recruits. Another thing that is important is that everything they do is for a purpose, a rehearsed, manufactured, and engineered purpose.

Do they sleep deprive you in basic training? ›

In fact, according to Military Medicine, military participants reported a three hour reduction in average sleep time from a rough eight to nine hours at home to five to six hours during BCT.

What not to do in boot camp? ›

5 Things Recruits Screw Up the Most in Boot Camp
  • Forgetting their lefts and rights. It's a simple mistake, but in boot camp, any time is a crappy time to have a brain fart. ...
  • Not shaving properly. ...
  • Not hydrating enough. ...
  • Calling their drill sergeant “sir” ...
  • Taking a dump during morning clean up.
Mar 21, 2018

What happens to your phone during basic training? ›

Trainees will use cell phones only under direct supervision of a staff member. 4. Trainees are authorized access to their personal cell phones during the fourth week and at the end of the seventh week of training to firm up travel arrangements with family and guests.

Is boot camp mentally hard? ›

Key points. Boot camp is physically and emotionally demanding. The emotional demands involve extreme stress, fatigue, and the need to dig deep into one's self.

Do drill sergeants read your letters? ›

Drill Instructors DO Read the Message Boards

Your recruit does not want his or her Drill Instructor to read his or her private thoughts from the letters he or she send. These letters are intended for you and you alone.

Do you get Christmas off in basic training? ›

The Army Holiday Block Leave is 10 days

The 10-day break generally starts a week before Christmas and lasts until a week after Christmas. This allows drill sergeants and basic training staff members to spend the holidays with their families.

Can soldiers leave base on family day? ›

Typically, on Family Day, Graduating Soldiers are granted a one day, on-post pass for the afternoon. During this time, visitors may leave post and re-enter. However, your soldier cannot go off-post with you and must remain on the installation in accordance with the guidance given by their unit.


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