MY BOOT CAMP STORY
I was so lucky to have found the Navy4Moms site early enough to help me on this wild Navy journey my son has brought me on. I’m so thankful for all the advice I got, all the questions I got answered, and all the kindred spirits, it’s time I gave back.
This is how it all shook out for us … there are a million variables and different people in charge of the divisions, so your mileage may vary. Don’t think that your experience will be the same as mine.
My son, Adam, graduated boot camp (also called PIR – Pass In Review) on April 24, 2009. He’d been in the DEP (Delayed Entry Program) since August 2008, waiting for a corpsman spot to open up. When he left at the end of February, he was excited, a little bit scared, but ready to go. His recruiter told him the biggest problem recruits have in boot camp is homesickness. Adam scoffed. We have a great relationship, but neither of us could imagine he’d be homesick. But he was. Crushing, soul-sucking, teary-eyed homesickness. We were all very surprised by this, especially him. Luckily, it didn’t last long. But be prepared for that.
During boot camp the recruits have to pass certain physical milestones. It seems the most difficult is the run. Males must run 1.5 miles in less than 12:15 minutes. Females must run 1.5 miles in less than 14:45 minutes. I think these are the requirements for the “Alpha males” – those from 18-20 years old. The requirements change based on the age of recruits, so make sure they know what will be required of them physically. They must pass it or they can’t proceed with their graduation, so if at all possible, they should start a running regimen before they ever get to boot camp. There were some recruits in my son’s division who were ASMOd (can’t remember what it stands for, but it means sent back in their training) because they couldn’t pass the fitness tests. There are also sit-up and push-up requirements. They’ll work with your recruit a lot to get them able to pass, but ultimately, it’s their two feet that have to run it. There’s enough stress at boot camp already, so if you can knock this part out of the way beforehand, the better off they’ll be.
After a week or two, you’ll get a box with the clothes they wore when they arrived at boot camp, and anything else they took with them. They don’t need anything. Not even a toothbrush. They’ll get everything they need there. My son left with only the clothes on his back, his wallet, an address book and a paperback to read on the plane, which he had to donate to the USO room in Chicago. I checked with some of the moms of females and asked if the same was true with them. This is one of the responses I got: “I can only speak on behalf of my own daughter. Like the males, everything she took with her was sent back in 'the kid in a box'. EVERYTHING. Including her belly button ring, watch, necklace, earrings. Everything they will need for 'that time of month' is provided for them and can be purchased at the NEX [Navy Exchange … store on base]. No cosmetics were allowed until graduation pictures and/or PIR. They weren't even allowed to go down the cosmetic aisle at the NEX for the first several weeks. Also, I learned this too late, about a week prior to PIR, moms can send their daughters their favorite cosmetics from home and best to overnight it or 2nd day. Just the basics though — moisturizer, face powder/cream, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick ...and it has to be used sparingly. But you don’t have to send it, they can purchase make-up from the NEX.”
They can’t write home right away, except for the quick lines scribbled at the end of the first form letter with their address and other basic information. There was confusion for some moms because the recruits draw a box around their address on this form letter. But they use a different return address on their letters home. Don’t get confused, just use the one they marked on the form letter.
About three weeks after he left we got the letter they call the “Grad Packet.” There’s basic info about graduation, but the two most important pieces are the actual date of graduation and the parking pass you’ll need on base. Don’t lose it. You’ll need it to get to the graduation and after the graduation. Since Adam stayed in Great Lakes for A-School, we were able to come and go. But to get on base, he had to be in the car with us, and IDs had to be shown.