As you prepare for your future Sailor to leave, breathe and take one day at a time.
Read OPSEC and PERSEC (Making Changes To Your Profile) within Boot Camp Moms (and loved ones) and start practicing OPSEC and PERSEC now. You will most likely need to change the Privacy Settings for your My Page from "Anyone" to "Members" (or to "Just My Friends" if your future Sailor has a contract for a special ops or Spook rating) and there may be other changes that you need to make.
Your future Sailor may want to join http://www.navydep.com to learn the ins and outs from the DEP point of view. There are also flash cards to assist with learning the info for the DEP PQS online at http://www.cram.com/tag/dep, http://quizlet.com/ (type Navy DEP in the Search box), and other sites. Quizlet has a free App that your future Sailor can use on some Smart phones. Encourage your future Sailor to study the DEP START Guide and complete his/her DEP GUIDE PQS and get and stay in shape. The NAVY FITNESS & NUTRITION GUIDE will help him/her to know what to be doing to prepare and will give the standards that s/he must meet. A recruit can be advanced to E-2 (or to E-3 if s/he entered as E-2) by successfully completing the DEP GUIDE PQS, passing a written multiple choice test with 80% or above at Recruit Training Command (RTC), and passing the PT-Baseline (the first PFA) with a SAT-MED. Completion of the DEP GUIDE PQS will be confirmed and documented by the Classifier at MEPS. (If the recruit does not have the signatures within the DEP GUIDE, s/he may still be able to be advanced by passing the test and initial PFA in some instances.) Working out ahead of shipping can help to prevent injuries while at RTC as well as helping to insure that the future Sailor is able to pass the PFA. (See Prevention of Stress Fractures for Those in DEP.) The YMCA in some areas and some health clubs and fitness centers offer free or reduced rate memberships to those in DEP.
The Navy does NOT teach recruits how to swim; some remediation is provided for those who need it, but it is not swim lessons. Recruits need to arrive at RTC with basic swim skills and the ability to float. Have your future Sailor practice in a pool before shipping.
It is very important that your future Sailor be physically fit prior to shipping to RTC and that s/he be able to pass an initial run test. "The initial run standard is evaluated on the 1.5 mile run of the first Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) at boot camp. The initial run standard for male recruits will be 16 minutes 10 seconds and 18 minutes seven seconds for female recruits."
Make sure that your future Sailor stays healthy and injury free, especially in the last month, because even a small cut or blister on a hand or foot when s/he reports to MEPS can cause a future Sailor to be delayed in shipping.
A website that will have a lot of information for you and your future Sailor is https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/. There are tabs for you and your future Sailor.
Here are some things you need to do in the last month before your future Sailor leaves:
1. Assist your future Sailor in getting his/her slim black wallet ready. (Buy one in the men's department,
even for the gals. We have seen recruits be able to keep other conservatively colored wallets and
even a green wallet, so if your future Sailor already has a thin wallet that s/he is comfortable with, then
use that because s/he will be less likely to send it home.) Tell your future Sailor to KEEP the wallet
unless s/he is told specifically/personally to put it in the box.
a. Driver’s license and DEP photo ID. [Check to see that your future Sailor's driver's license will
not expire during boot camp. This is especially important for those with a contract for Aviation
Boatswain's Mate - Fuels (ABF), Equipment Operator (EO), Master at Arms (MA), and Religious
Program Specialist (RP). Sailors with contracts for those ratings have had to remain in holding
in GL and have not been permitted to go to "A" School due to an expired driver's license. Some
had to get a contract for a different rating or for one of the PACT Programs when a new license
was not obtained by a specified date. Those with a contract in the Nuclear Field also need to have
a current driver's license, but not having it does not cause delays until "A" School, so those with a
contract for NF should also make sure to have it.]
b. SS card—not a copy (Recruits have been put on hold when the SS card was forgotten and did
not arrive at RTC by a specified date. If the SS card is lost, order a new one as soon as it is
discovered to be lost.)
c. a small amount of cash ($10-$25) Your future Sailor will be given a voucher for meals, but it's
nice to have a little bit of pocket money. $10-$25 would not be enough if your then recruit is
delayed in shipping and has to spend extra time at a hotel or airport due to storms or some
other cause. The Navy picks up the tab for the hotel, but not always for food beyond what the
voucher covers. Some recruits have received an additional food voucher, but others have not. If
you check the weather and suspect that storms in Chicago or another location may delay your
then Recruit, then you might want to be sure that s/he has $50-$60 to cover meals for up to two
d. stamps (they can be purchased at RTC, but it is good not to have to)-- Don't send stationery
as it takes up room and besides they get stationery, including
envelopes, to use at RTC. I typically only suggest sending pre-addressed stamped
envelopes if the recruit has relatives in another country since postage is higher and the recruit
may not know or have the correct postage or if your recruit requests that you send some after a
few weeks due to running out of RTC stationery.
e. a few Band-Aids and a couple of strips of moleskin (make sure s/he knows how to use it to
prevent/treat blisters; they can get these from medical, but it is good to have them early)
f. Decide if s/he is going to use Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) (I suggest that s/he does.) or
Armed Forces Bank or his/her own financial institution. S/He will need to have form 1199A
completed at his/her bank (the bank has the form) if s/he will use that and put the form in
his/her wallet and/or take a blank check. Recruits/Sailors are paid a day earlier if they use
NFCU than if they do not—we have been seeing deposits to some other institutions also arrive
a day early—and there is a branch located at most places where your future Sailor will be
stationed. They also have the active military account which will reimburse your future Sailor for
up to $20 on ATM fees every month.
Your future Sailor can set up an account with NFCU prior to leaving for RTC by calling
1-888-842-6328 and get the 1199A Direct Deposit Sign-up Form online at
If your future Sailor has bills that s/he wants to set up to pay by allotment, have him/her take the
information to set that up during P-days. S/He will need the name of the company/person, the
phone number, the address and the account number or if the allotment is to be made to a
person's bank account s/he will need the Bank routing number and the account number as
well as the person's name.
(Paydays are the 1st and 15th, but recruits must be at RTC at least 3 full weeks to be paid
on a pay day, so if you will be paying bills for your recruit, it is best to have enough back ahead
of time to cover one to two month's bills because although your recruit will be paid from the first
day, it could take 3 or 4 pay days for the pay to settle in to what it will be. If you are the spouse of
a recruit, know that BAH has been paid in the first pay period for some, but others did not
receive it until near the end of boot camp or after PIR, but it will eventually be caught up. If you
are unable to put enough money back to cover the bills for the first month or so, then speak with
the creditors and see if the bills can be suspended or payment delayed for a month until a
deposit has been made. Payment on student loans may be deferred while the recruit is at the
RTC. Not all institutions will defer the payment so have money put back and a plan in place for
making the payments if the loans are not deferred. For more information on pay and BAH, see
Some recruits have had their bank accounts compromised while in boot camp so be sure that
your recruit lets the bank know that s/he will be in boot camp in Great Lakes, IL and the
approximate dates so that the bank will flag any charges during that time and call a designated
person to check on the charges. If you are not already an authorized user on the account, this
may require a POA from the bank specifying that you are to be contacted for this purpose.
g. a list of addresses and phone numbers of those s/he will contact during BC—include the info
of people s/he may need to contact for security clearance as well as friends and relatives. S/He
would be able to keep a small address book, but the list in the wallet is better and less likely to
accidentally get put in "the box." Now that most people have cell phones many do not have
important phone numbers memorized. (Have him/her give you a list of email addresses or phone
numbers for his/her friends and/or access to his/her fB account so you can pass on his/her address
once you get it.)
h. Activated calling card or calling card numbers.
If you choose to purchase a calling card, be sure to activate it and write down the info on
the back of the card before putting it in the wallet so you can add more minutes if needed.
If you or your future Sailor has a PennyTalk account, your recruit can use that account to make
calls from RTC. Calls within the USA and some other countries are 1 cent per minute. This
may be a good option if your future Sailor has people to call in other countries. See
http://www.pennytalk.com. (Note: A 49¢ connection fee is charged each time a call connects. A
99¢ monthly service fee applies to all accounts. A 90¢ payphone surcharge applies to each call
made from a payphone, which is what your recruit will use at RTC.) See Phone Cards and
Make sure your future Sailor knows how to use the calling card. Practice before s/he leaves.
Calling cards are available for purchase at the NEX at RTC, but it is good not to have to
activate a calling card before making any calls.
Your recruit will need a calling card to make any calls other than the "I'm here!" call, which is the
last call your then recruit will make from his/her cell phone before putting it in "the box" to be stored,
or calls for information or if there is a problem. All other calls are made from a payphone.
Recruits are not permitted to keep their cell phones at RTC.
i. small photo/s (no nudity or questionable content)
j. Slip a short encouraging note into his/her wallet from you and/or other loved ones so s/he will
be able to read it in the days/weeks before s/he will receive mail. (Also encourage him/her to
write a note to you either before leaving or on the way to BC and slip it in a pocket or shoe for
you to read before you get mail from him/her.) If your future Sailor will have a birthday within the
first 4 weeks after arrival, then slip a sealed birthday greeting in his/her wallet to open on that day--
perhaps a small card (such as a gift insert card) that does not openly advertise the birthday and has
k. a small calendar if your future Sailor wants to mark off the days until PIR (know that some
RDC's do not permit calendars so your then recruit may have to tear it up)
l. gallon sized zip-top clear plastic bag. Your recruit can use it to keep the items together that s/he is
allowed to keep and can use it to keep letters together in his/her A/B drawer once s/he is in his/her
m. Recruits shipping during COVID-19 may also take a personal entertainment device with no
camera and / or two books to be used during the 14 days of ROM. Personal entertainment
device means a handheld, non-cellular equipped, non-camera equipped device with a primary
purpose of personal entertainment, such as an e-reader or gaming device. Tablets, laptops,
gaming consoles, and any device with cellular capability are not allowed.
2. S/He will be able to keep a small Bible if s/he wants to take one or s/he can get a New Testament and
Proverbs at MEPS prior to shipping or at RTC.
S/He will also be able to keep a small religious medal if s/he wants (it must be silver in color and
smaller than his/her dog tags). Some will send them back though, so make sure your future Sailor
knows to keep it. Some have taped the religious medal in the wallet since many have not been able to
keep a chain if worn on a chain to RTC.
S/He will be able to keep and wear a wristwatch, if desired. It is best if it is water resistant and black
or silver in color, but recruits have also been able to keep watches with a navy blue or brown
wristband. One that costs less than $20 is best at RTC and after.
Married recruits are able to wear a plain wedding band.
Anything s/he takes that s/he is able to keep must be able to fit in his/her "valuables sock" (a tube
sock that s/he will carry) during P-Days. Everything else will be put in "the box."
3. Help your future Sailor decide what s/he will wear to MEPS and if s/he will take a change of
clothes or not. Remember that your future Sailor will be taken to a hotel the day before the ship
date for MEPS and will stay overnight at the hotel. S/He must have clean underwear (boxers for
the guys and full-coverage underwear and sports bra for the gals) and socks at MEPS. Old
clothes are permitted, but be sure that your future Sailor is not wearing clothes with holes and
know that sandals or flip flops without a strap around the back are not permitted at MEPS. Future
Sailors have not been able to ship when they have shown up in clothes that are not allowed. Recruiters
or parents have made trips to buy suitable clothing the night before swearing in at MEPS. Be aware
and be sure that your future Sailor is dressed appropriately.
Also discuss his/her options of putting the clothes in the box, trashing them, or donating
My son took a change of underwear that he changed at the hotel and threw the others away there.
He shaved with a disposable razor and used the hotel toiletries. He also wore his least favorite
clothes and trashed them at RTC.
If you are going to MEPS to see him/her sworn in, s/he can take a backpack with his/her toiletries
and a change of clothes for the hotel room and give it to you when s/he sees you.
4. You need to determine if you are going to MEPS and the airport and find out from the Recruiter
when you should be there if you are. Some MEPS require that the recruiter submit paperwork
ahead of time in order for you to attend the swearing in. This is especially true if MEPS is located
on a military base because you will need a pass to get on base. If MEPS is located on a military
base, you will need current ID for everyone in the vehicle and current vehicle registration and proof of
insurance in order to drive onto the base. Your recruit will have to be with you at the airline counter to
get a gate pass if you plan to wait with him/her. Some airlines consider a recruit who is shipping to
Boot Camp to be under orders and will permit loved ones to obtain a gate pass and accompany
him/her past security and others do not. If you intend to accompany your then recruit to the airport,
check with your future Sailor's recruiter to see what airline will be used and call to check to see if you
will be able to accompany your then recruit.
5. Talk with your future Sailor about how you want to handle any bad news. My Sailor told me he only
wanted to be notified if his father, sister, or I were to die. He asked that news of any other deaths
or hospitalizations, even grandparents and close friends, be kept from him until after PIR.
Fortunately, we did not have to face that.
6. Decide if you need a Power of Attorney.
There are 2 main types, a general Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney. You may need
these if s/he has bills or personal property that you will need to take care of or if s/he were to be hurt
while at RTC. You can get the forms to do both kinds of PoA for free online and customize them to
your needs and then have them notarized. You can find a general Power of Attorney online
http://www.expertlaw.com/library/estate_planning/medical_power_of_a... has a Medical Power
of Attorney form. You only need a PoA if you will need to take care of financial matters or
personal property for your recruit. The MPoA is only needed if your recruit is incapacitated;
otherwise, the HIPAA form or medical information waiver form is all that is needed.
A durable PoA that will cover both is best drawn up by an attorney and most will charge less than
$50 to do so. Be aware that a durable PoA may not be accepted by some institutions because it may
be seen as being too broad.
Keep a photocopy of your future Sailor's driver's license with the power of attorney. Some states
must have both in order to use the PoA. Some banks will only accept their own PoA that must be
signed at the bank, so check with your financial institution if you will be taking care of any banking
business for your future Sailor. If you will only be taking care of matters dealing with a vehicle, you
may only need the form that can be obtained from the license bureau or DMV.
7. For those of you with exes, speak with your Future Sailor about who s/he should send the form letter.
to. The recruit decides who that is mailed to, not anyone at RTC. It is good to know ahead of time
how this is going to be handled because the form letter will indicate the address and PIR date and
will include the Security Access Form to be completed with the info on those who will be attending
PIR so they can receive their tickets. If both parents are going to PIR, then the one receiving the form
letter will need to share the information in that letter with the other parent, but everything in the form
letter and the Security Access Form can be found on this site in several places as well as
8. Help him/her determine the names of up to 4 people who s/he will be submitting to receive tickets for
Your recruit will be permitted 4 guests unless s/he ends up in a large TG. Plan ahead of time who
will attend if only 3 guests are permitted. Everyone ages 3 and older must have a ticket to attend.
Those ages 2 and under are able to attend without a ticket. This is very important since only those
with tickets will be able to enter RTC. Your then recruit will have the final say as to who will
attend. Those names will be submitted on the Security Access Form.
During COVID there is no PIR. Guests are not permitted on RTC.
9. Call and put his/her cell phone on military hold/suspension while s/he is at BC beginning the day
after you expect him/her to arrive at RTC or a day later than that in case s/he arrives in the wee
hours of the morning. Set it up so that you can call the day before PIR and remove the Hold so that
s/he will be able to use his/her phone on Liberty and once s/he gets to "A" School.
If your future Sailor has a vehicle, you may also want to have him/her removed as a driver on the
insurance and look into having the vehicle changed to a "pleasure vehicle" if someone will be
driving it every now and then or to "in storage" if it will be parked to save money on the insurance.
10. Have him/her help you decide what to do about the things in his/her room. Also, have him/her set
aside the things that s/he will want you to bring to GL with you to have on Liberty and at "A" School.
Things to take PIR weekend, which must be able to fit in his/her black backpack (obtained at RTC),
include: favorite underwear, laptop, cell phone charger, and one set of clothes--some choose a favorite
T-shirt or 2 and have the jeans sent later. Now that "the box" is not sent home some pack a
SMALL backpack with these things so that they have them once they get their box after
graduation so they have them at "A" School. Be sure it and the clothes worn will fit in a
14x14x14 box. Things you will be able to send later, depending on the "A" School and its length may
include: additional set/s of clothes, gaming system, musical instrument, a few favorite pictures...
(You can check on the site for his/her "A" School to help determine what is and is not allowed and
how soon. If you don't know where your future Sailor will go for training, go to Ratings, A School
SCAM ALERT: If your future Sailor has any bank cards or credit cards, have him/her call a week or so before the ship date and let the bank or issuing agent know the dates that s/he will be in BC and provide a contact number of a loved one that they can call if there are any charges made on the card from any place other than the NEX at RTC. There have been reports of charges being made while the recruit is in BC. Sometimes the charges are not able to be reversed if they are not discovered until after BC. There have been some reports of credit cards being maxed out before the charges were discovered.
Although your future Sailor is covered by Tricare health insurance from the day s/he swears in at MEPS on the way to RTC, I suggest that you don’t drop your Future Sailor’s health insurance until after PIR. If something happens and s/he is sent home, s/he may have trouble getting health insurance, so this is one case where I say to plan for the worst case situation when I typically tell loved ones to plan to attend PIR on time and don't think about the possibility of being sent home or a delayed PIR. Check with your agent to see how easy it would be to add him/her back on if s/he were to be separated and if your policy allows dependents to be added at any time, then you may be able to remove him/her from the policy once s/he has sworn in at MEPS and is on the way to RTC. Being separated from the armed services is not a qualifying condition that allows a person to be added on outside of the regular enrollment time for many policies.
Females should get their hair cut in the last week before leaving if they wish to do so. Have her go to a good stylist and have her hair cut well above collar length and she should be fine and may not even need another haircut until A School. (See http://www.public.navy.mil/BUPERS-NPC/SUPPORT/UNIFORMS/UNIFORMREGUL....) New female recruits are permitted to keep long hair if they wish and are taught how to properly wear their hair in a Navy regulation bun. Female recruits who wish to have their hair cut may still request to do so. Hair pins and barrettes that match the hair color may be permitted. Corn rows that are uniform in size and distance apart and do not include beads or other adornment have been permitted for some as long as the length is above the collar for those females with hair that would better be styled in that manner. There are some videos on youtube that discuss appropriate hairstyles for females while in Navy BC and afterwards. Your future Sailor's hair should be her natural hair color when she ships because she will not be able to do any color touch ups during BC. Recruits with unnatural looking hair color, including highlights, have been required to dye their hair, so it's best to address that before shipping. Your future Sailor will need to remove any nail polish or fake nails on both hands and feet before reporting to MEPS and should not wear makeup to MEPS or to RTC.
Females who are on birth control pills prior to shipping should take their birth control pills with them along with a signed and dated note from their physician. The recruit will either be permitted to keep them or they will be tossed and something will be prescribed from the pharmacy. All female recruits are offered the option of birth control during boot camp.
Earrings are not permitted at Boot Camp except for graduation photos and PIR and those must meet Navy standards and can be purchased at the NEX.
Males with facial hair should shave prior to shipping to make the first few shaves at RTC easier.
Relax and enjoy the time you have together. Don't start missing your loved one before s/he leaves. Make the time together good for everyone.
If your future Sailor wears contacts, make sure that s/he wears glasses or takes glasses and a contact case to RTC because s/he will have to remove contacts upon arrival and it will be several days before the eye exam and new glasses are given and s/he will not have any eye correction during that time. In fact, your recruit could be without correction for nearly a week if s/he does not take/wear glasses to RTC and it could be longer if your recruit is held in P-days for some reason. (The vision exam is on P-3 or P-4 and glasses are received that day, but there is no processing on the weekend, so it is usually about a week or longer for most recruits from the time they arrive to the time they receive their glasses. See http://www.lovell.fhcc.va.gov/locations/USSRedRover.asp.) Those who wear glasses are able to keep and wear them until after they receive their new glasses, then they must put their civilian glasses in their A/B drawer and can wear them for pictures and PIR if they meet Navy standards. Some recruits have been able to keep contacts in a case along with a small amount of solution. They must put them in their "Valuables Sock" and then A/B drawer and can wear them for pictures and PIR. You will be able to send contacts to your recruit to wear for the graduation pictures and for PIR.
If your future Sailor wears a retainer, s/he will be able to keep it at RTC as long as it was declared in the paperwork; a waiver may be required for some ratings. Recruiters sometimes tell future Sailors to remove them, but your future Sailor should respectfully refuse and ask that the retainer/s be documented. If your then recruit wears the retainer/s to BC, then it will be more likely that s/he will remember to keep the retainer/s and not accidentally put it/them in "the box" when packing it. Permanent retainers may be a disqualifying condition for some ratings, so if there is a choice between permanent or removable retainers, then choose removable retainers.
If you accompany your future Sailor to the Recruiter’s Office prior to his/her shipping out, walk a few steps behind and be alert as you approach the recruiter’s door. Your future Sailor will have to stop and request permission to enter. You don’t want to accidentally walk into your future Sailor as s/he is executing the salute before entering.
On the day s/he leaves, remind him/her to drink plenty of water because s/he will be drug tested at MEPS or soon after arrival at RTC and DO have him/her take his/her cell phone and charger because s/he can call/text you along the way and will be able to make that last call to you from it. Let him/her know to call once s/he gets to Chicago before getting to RTC so you will have a little more time to talk because the next call will be a scripted 15-30 second call and there will not be time for chitchat. There are no longer phone banks to make the "I'm here!" calls from, so your then recruit must call from a cell phone, either his/her own or a borrowed one.
There have been reports in the past of people taking cell phones and/or watches prior to the recruits getting to RTC. Let your future Sailor know that at no time prior to packing "the box" should anyone ask for those or other personal items--if it happens, they need to respectfully decline the offer and then get the name of the individual and report it. Anything that a recruit cannot keep will be packed "the box" and held for them until later and they will put anything that they can keep in their "Valuables sock" and keep it with them.
See https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/assets/pdfs/REQUIRED%20CHECKLIST.pdf, https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/assets/pdfs/WHAT%20TO%20BRING.pdf, and https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/assets/pdfs/WHAT%20NOT%20TO%20BRING.pdf. These documents are also available in other forms at https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/recruits.html#prepare.
A video that may be helpful: What To Bring to Boot camp.
I hope that helps.
Check out the discussion Arwen posted, Your recruit's final MEPS experience - an overview of their last ho...; but be sure to read my reply concerning the statement about not eating for a day or two--Recruits DO eat. I also suggest that you join the group, Boot Camp Moms (and loved ones), and start checking out the Pages (found under the pictures of the Members) there; Arrival and What Happens at RTC will let you know what happens at RTC and what to expect.
Make sure to join the group for the month that your future Sailor leaves to connect with others with loved ones who may be leaving the same day/week and may have PIR with your Future Sailor. Each of the following is a clickable link.
You may also want to check out »» Welcome to the MEPS and DEP group ««.
Some have asked about the blue candle tradition and have wanted to include blue candles as favors at an "Anchors Aweigh" party, so check out Blue Candles.
If you have a young child and would like a book to help explain about Daddy (or Mommy) being away at boot camp, then check out Hooyah Daddy!!: My Daddy's in Navy boot camp Kindle Edition available from amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CXIQ54G?*Version*=1&*entrie....
The Page, What does ??? mean? (A Guide to Navy Abbreviations and Terminology), will help you with many of the new terms you will come across.
After your loved one has shipped:
The above information is provided by lemonelephant, the mom of a retired Sailor.
Discussion updated 08/01/2020
You are very welcome. I am glad you found it helpful.
Here is the link to follow to read about the new standard:
In a nutshell... starting January 1 of 2018, ALL Recruits will be required to pass an initial run standard BEFORE they commence basic military training. If they do not pass the initial run standard they will be given one more chance within a 48 hour period to retest and pass. If they fail to meet the requirements for the initial run standard they will be separated from the Navy with an entry level separation, which allows them to reapply at a later date with a waiver from Navy Recruiting Command.
Please read the article in the link for more details.
New here and wanted to say Hi! Still trying to navigate the site and information. Feeling a bit like a stalker skimming thru and reading posts :) And when I find information and share it with my son, I get... Ya I know. lol. He thinks because he's been in Sea Cadets since he was 14 and our local Military school, I should know this stuff already. I tell him my brain can only hold so much and its at capacity. Haha.. Love him, but wish he would share more info with me than assume I should know. Just for warning, I will probably lean heavily on the help from all of you here.
Welcome to the journey.
Quite thorough! Thank you.
You are very welcome.