The U.S. Navy boot camp is run out of Great Lakes, Illinois. It is a place with square shaped concrete buildings that look kind of like an old school grounds. When you first get there you go through an initial processing phase that last about days. I thought MEP’s was pretty horrible standing in lines for 12 hours. When you arrive at Great Lakes you do this for 3 days straight with almost zero sleep!

The Arrival

I remember getting off of the bus when we arrived, and get yelled at to go straight into a line. There was constant yelling from drill instructors and senior recruits to shut up and not speak until asked a question. There were many lines of recruits at different stations for different things. Below is a list of things that you must do before you are processed into boot camp:

Fill out a zillion forms to create your first service records
Get a hair cut
Send back all your civilian stuff
Get your first uniform (Sweatsuit called SMURF’s)
Take a urinalysis
Get yelled at a lot
A lot more things
The first thing you do is fill out tons of forms to create this detailed service record. I remember hating this the most. After creating the records they send you over to a new station where you get to pick up your first uniform.

The Smurfs

This is the first military uniform you will wear. They had about 80 of us in one room and they told us all to strip down completely naked and change clothes. This was our first lesson in changing in front of other people. Most of you who played sports in high school will probably be used to this.

The reason it is called smurfs is because its an all blue uniform which makes you look like a smurf. It is just sweat pants and a sweater and a hat that says recruit on it. When you walk around the base wearing this uniform you stick out like a paris hilton video sitting on a church pew.

All of the other senior recruits will make fun of you and laugh as you march around the base with 80 other guys you never met, trying your hardest to march in line. I remember watching in awe at the senior divisions marching around in a super tight, flawless group. Everyone in the division moved so smoothly like one solid entity. The RDC would tell us that if we listened, we would be like them one day also.

The First Hair Cut

I remember getting my hair cut. For guys they just shave your whole head with one small clip. For girls they trim their hair very carelessly to the bottom of the collar. I distinctly remember most of the girls crying after their hair was cut. Many guys laughed at them.

The Piss Test

Also, when they gave you a urinalysis they had to see it come out of the source. At the same time they were watching me, they were insulting me, saying lots of smart ass remarks, and all kinds of uncomforting things that had to do with sexuality, manliness, being gay, size, etc.

No sleep

The very first day you should get 1-2 hours of sleep if you are lucky. The second night you may get 3-4 and the third night it depends. When I was there I remember getting maybe 1-2 hours of sleep when I was suddenly woke up to get my stuff ready to start the next day.


Once you complete all the records and get all of your stuff you will be assigned to an RDC. RDC is short for Recruit Division Commander. Your division will have between 1-3 of these guys in charge of you at all times. Once you get assigned an RDC they will assign you to your bunk where you will sleep(BARELY) for the next 8 weeks.

After it’s all done

Short and sweet. There isn’t much to it the first three days but a lot of standing in lines and being in fear of everything. These days go by like a blur and before you know it you are marching around this base wondering what you are doing there.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Navy Stories. In the upcoming posts I will talk about each week of boot camp and what we did.

Ben Moreno is a corporate Information Technology support professional. If you would like more useful information regarding information technology be sure to visit his blog. Ben also writes about his experience with Navy Life and other interests such as mixed martial arts, technology and society.

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