What to Expect at Boot Camp
Here at Before the Corps, our staff has trained thousands of Recruits. We decided to compile a list that tells you what to expect at during your thirteen weeks at Marine Boot Camp.
From the minute Recruits step off the buses onto the Yellow Footprints at the Recruit Depot, they will find themselves in an unfamiliar environment. Recruits will feel a range of emotions until they get comfortable at Boot Camp, which normally takes about two or three weeks. Here's what you should expect as you ship to Boot Camp:
Yelling and Screaming
One thing you can be sure of is that everyone is yelling the whole time you are at Boot Camp. Get used to screaming at the top of your lungs all day. Learn to get loud!
Drill instructors will yell at you, sometimes more than one at a time, directly in your face, from inches away. This is a guarantee and a rite of passage. Obeying orders, paying attention, and moving quickly with intent will help you avoid attracting the unwanted attention of your drill instructors.
Confusion, Fear, and Homesickness
Emotionally, Recruits will feel the following emotions for the first few weeks:
1. Home Sickness
Many recruits have never been away from home before. Without a cellphone, internet, or any contact to the outside world besides letter writing, a young man or woman's safety network has been suddenly ripped away.
Without access to their loved ones, and in a new, unfamiliar environment, recruits begin to feel fear and confusion due to the unknowns of Boot Camp. This is made worse by the fact they are always tired and have Drill Instructors screaming in their faces constantly. This fear will drive a few recruits to do crazy things - don't worry and hold the course. It will give way to the next set of emotions.
Confidence, Pride, and Belonging
After surviving the first few days of screaming, uncertainty, and confusion, recruits begin to recognize they are figuring this Boot Camp thing out. The routine becomes normal and they get closer with their platoon-mates. After conquering individual and unit training events like the Gas Chamber, Rappel Tower, Confidence Course, and Initial Drill, Recruits begin to feel:
Boot camp is extremely challenging. Every event is designed to push a recruit beyond his or her boundaries, forcing them out of their comfort zone, and enabling them to discover new found confidence with each achievement.
This sense of accomplishment applies to each individual recruit. As they get closer with their platoon-mates, they develop a strong sense of unit cohesion, belonging, and pride in their Platoon.
Cold, Wet, Tired, Hungry (and a bit smelly)
There's a saying in the military that you're always cold, wet, tired, or hungry. We'll break this down for you, Barney-style.
Cold/Wet - Marines are amphibious in nature, meaning we have no problem serving in wet environments. This also means we don't stop training when it rains and we are soaked from head to toe. We'll crawl and swim through mud, puddles, and ponds and more to get the job done.
Tired - Waking up every day for thirteen weeks hours before the sun comes out, and going to bed well after it has set will make anyone tired. Adding in yelling, running, and sweating all day guarantees you'll feel extra tired. Sprinkle in some Fire Watch at night, and you will feel a type of tired most people may never experience.
Hungry - You will eat three hot meals every day. These meals are served at the Chow Halls, and you will have approximately 15 minutes to eat. Your meal is whatever the Chow Hall is serving. There are no seconds, there are few choices, and there are no snacks throughout the day. On top of all the exercise, you will feel very hungry.
Smelly - We like to be honest about everything here at BTC. One painful truth is that you are going to stink for 13 weeks. You'll get one to two showers every day, which is not nearly enough for the amount of sweating you'll do. You only have a few uniforms, so get used to smelling like a hot gym locker-room. On the bright side, your nose adjusts almost immediately.
The Crud (Getting Sick)
With a platoon having between 50 and 90 recruits from all over the United States, constantly yelling, living in close proximity, and the not-so-great hygiene most recruits practice, everyone gets sick at one point. This can be a nagging cough, known as "the Crud," the flu, or some other illness. Wash your hands often, carry hand sanitizer, and keep your fingers crossed. Drill Instructors, Company Staff, and Recruits all seem to catch something, usually during the first phase.
The Marines don't care about your background - you have to earn your place. It doesn't matter if your parents are Congressmen, you grew up homeless, you're an immigrant, or you come from "a tough neighborhood." Recruits can expect an equal playing field and opportunity to prove themselves and their worth.
When dealing with other recruits, it is important to recognize that they come from other areas in a large and diverse nation.
A Recruit from New York City may have never met anyone from Alabama. Recruits from Salt Lake City may have never met anyone anyone from Southern California.
These differences in backgrounds and cultures can be noticeable. Reports of prejudice and discrimination, although infrequent, exist. We at BTC have witnessed them occasionally during our time in the Marines. What we can tell you is that this is not the norm and absolutely not tolerated. You will find that a brotherhood in arms transcends race, religion, demographics, and and your cultural background.
Running. Lots of Running.
Marines are physically fit. Some Recruits are, while others are not. During your 13 weeks at Boot Camp, you will run or speed walk everywhere you go. Being physically prepared makes the experience much less difficult!
You will consistently face challenges while you are at Boot Camp. Ranging from academic testing to physical challenges and more. We've broken down all the key training events for you here. For additional insights and behind the scenes tips, check out our Insider's Guide to Boot Camp, where we provide more information than is available anywhere else on the internet.