Updated: Jan 17, 2022
This is a tough one. Your BTC founders have trained thousands of recruits, and we have asked most of them, "what's the hardest thing about boot camp?" more times than we can count. We have gotten a lot of answers, but everyone struggles with something different. So, what do we believe is the hardest part of Marine Corps boot camp? We can’t pick one, but here are a few.
2. Missing Home
3. Lack of Sleep
5. The Crucible
Yes, you read that right. Many Recruits find that first four days on the Depot to be the absolute worst. You show up to the Depot at night. You’ll be hungry and tired from the start, then there is going to be a very angry Drill Instructor telling you to stand a certain way, to do as you are told, and to use sir and ma’am every time you open your mouth. Sounds easy, but it can be overwhelming for some. There is a lot of shock and disorientation, you’ll get yelled at for trivial things, and training hasn’t even started yet! Receiving is one big rush of disorientation, and the lack of sleep makes it so much harder. By the end of the week, most Recruits are just ready to meet their DIs so the monotony of Receiving can just end.
This starts the second Recruits begin travel to the Depot, and for some it doesn’t stop until they finally get to see their families at graduation. Boot Camp tends to be the longest period most Recruits have spent away from home to that point in their lives. For many, it is the first time they may have been out of their home state or even hometown. This adjustment is difficult, and the difficult atmosphere of training makes it that much more difficult. Recruits tend to remain spirited through seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or just looking forward to mail call at the end of the day. Resiliency is the only way to defeat this hurdle.
Lack of Sleep
There is never enough sleep and Boot Camp. Recruits technically get eight hours of sleep every day of training, but this is often disrupted by fire watch, head calls, or a myriad of other reasons to rob Recruits of some shuteye. Then, during the day they must resist urges to fall asleep in academic instruction, chow periods, and other places. (I’ve seen Recruits asleep while standing up). Raw motivation will help Recruits push through the exhaustion, but every Recruit must be prepared to tired for the entire twelve weeks.
Technically, you can eat as much as you want at Boot Camp, but you only have a certain amount of time to plate your food and shove it all down before an angry DI will coral you out of the chow hall. Best thing to do: fill your plate and shove down as much as you can. Good carbs and protein will be your friend, especially if it is on a salad bar. Avoid sweets.
The Crucible is the culminating event of the training cycle. It is 54 hours of grueling physical and mental endurance. In just over two days, recruits will travel over 50 miles on foot and endure some of the most difficult conditions they have ever faced, whether heat, cold, or rain. Recruits will be pushed to their limits. On the first and second day of the Crucible, recruits will complete multiple daytime events. These events will vary in their order, but they will include casualty evacuation, body sparring, pugil sticks, leadership reaction courses, a live-fire range, and more.
Each night of the Crucible also has its own event. On one night, a resupply hike, and on the other a tactical resupply mission. During the hike, Recruits are provided ammunition cans between 30 and 50 pounds which they will transport over a three-mile hike route. The resupply mission simulates movement through an area of enemy fire with the same heavy load. The third morning of the Crucible begins around 0300. Recruits will place their packs on their backs and sling their weapons for the longest hike of Recruit Training. Their feet will hurt, their backs will be sore, and they will be hungrier than they have ever been. At the completion of this hike awaits a sweet prize: the title of United States Marine.