The day before your recruit is due to ship out s/he will report to his/her recruiter's office, for yet another drug test, weigh-in, and another round of paperwork. Then the recruiter will drive him/her to a hotel near MEPS, where recruits get a meal ticket and a room. They cannot have ANYONE in their rooms, even spouse/children, and must be in that room by curfew. In many places they are told they may not leave the hotel, even to have a last dinner with the family, but there is a lounge/restaurant at most hotels used by MEPS to house incoming recruits.
In the morning all recruits at MEPS (all services) will be picked up at about 5:30 am, either by a bus/van if there are a lot of them, or by their recruiter, and taken to MEPS.
When s/he arrives at MEPS he/she will take a final physical exam, another weigh-in and drug test, then wait to be called by a processing clerk. When recruits finally get their turn at the desk, they provide IDs once again, sign a thick packet of papers, then sit in a waiting area to wait for all recruits to finish.
When everyone is finished with paperwork (at this point recruits are mixed - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard), they are all taken to a special room where they will be sworn in. This can take place anytime between about 9 a.m. and noon. If family members are waiting in the MEPS waiting room, they can be there for this part. They often do two ceremonies, one ending with "So help me God" and one finishing with "I do so affirm," as preferred by each recruit. It's a very crowded little room, with almost no space for an audience, so pictures are difficult. Many MEPS officers, who lead the oath, will recreate this ceremony with individual recruits for family members to take pictures.
Then the recruits go back to the office, each is given their file, recruits are separated into small groups according to their service/destination and given meal vouchers to eat at the airport. One recruit will be put "in charge" of the group. They will be loaded onto a van, charter bus or are given subway/train tickets to the airport. At this point they will be expected to stay with the group but are not supervised.
You CAN go to the airport (separately) to meet your recruit, you may be able to get a gate pass to sit with your recruit at the USO or the gate if there is time before the flight. A better option is to make sure your recruit has his/her cell phone to call and chat while waiting. They cannot use their phone at MEPS or on the plane, but they can call from both the originating airport and the Chicago airport.
When your recruit arrives at the Chicago airport, they can take an hour to get a meal if it's not already really late. They should make it a big meal - they have a long night ahead of them. Then they report to the airport USO office, where they wait for a bus to pick up them up and take them to RTC.
Once they step on the bus they must turn their cell phone off. Those who have cell phones will get to make a 10 second call from their phones a few hours later, it could be 5 p.m. or 1 a.m., depending on how late their flight gets in. Within an hour of that call, the recruits put their phones in a box with all of their other belongings (even their underwear!) to ship home. Usually the battery is put in one shoe and the phone in the other.
For more information about what happens next, you should watch the video Navy Racks: Boot Camp. It's a little bit dated, the uniforms are different now - but it gives an excellent overview of what their experience will be.
Fantastic! Exactly what we need. Thank you.
Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!
I have included a link to this discussion within my discussion, Things to Do in the Last Month Before Your Future Sailor Leaves for.... I hope you approve. This is great info. Thanks for posting.
No problem. I was asked to re-post this - rescued from an old, old thread. I hope it helps answer peoples' questions.
Thank you so much for the description of MEPS and what happens as she starts her journey !
Some are concerned about the comment concerning the new recruit not eating for a day or two. Here is what I have been told.
It is true that some do not eat from the time they arrive at MEPS until the following day at lunch because they don't take time to eat on the day they ship out. They are given a food voucher to eat that day at the airport upon arrival and should take the opportunity to do so--even if they do it quickly. They do have lunch on P-1, but I have heard from several that there was no breakfast, possibly due to blood tests that morning, but then others indicated that breakfast was after the blood work.
The following is a sample of the daily routine (the recruits) will follow during (their) initial few days, “P-days:”
P-1 Day Alpha Schedule
0300-0350 barracks reveille/morning routine
0400-0500 1523 blood work/DNA
0520-0620 928 breakfast
0640-1100 barracks uniforms and grooming (RDC LECTURE); standards of conduct (RDC LECTURE); RDC time
1100-1200 1128 Noon meal
1220-1430 chapel human values
1430-1640 various RDC time
(1530) 1017 special physicals (chest x-rays)
1640-1740 1128 evening meal
1800-1955 barracks evening routine
1955-2000 barracks tattoo/evening prayers/taps
That is from the old Navy DEP Guide at http://www.navygirl.org/DEP/DEPSuccessAccelerator.pdf (the new one is at http://www.cnrc.navy.mil/Graphic-Elements/PDFs/start_guide.pdf). (Bolding is mine for emphasis.) The word/number following the time indicates the location. I cannot find a more recent schedule, but I really don't think that the RTC has changed the routine to one that would not permit the new recruits to eat.
The future Sailors will have breakfast at the hotel before heading to MEPS (as long as they get up in time to do so) and they usually have a box lunch at MEPS.
My son did get breakfast at the hotel, but because they shipped out at 11 a.m. there was no lunch. I sent my son with $25 in cash to spend, and he used it for lunch at the departing airport (Portland, OR). He had dinner at the Chicago airport.
I have heard both sides to whether they get to eat or not. Some recruits report their division missing several meals because they are so busy, others got all meals, including breakfast the first morning. I don't know exactly how often those missed meals happen, but even if they get to eat regularly, that last civilian meal is still a nice memory for a while.
Thanks for adding that reply because although you say "it may be the last one they eat for a day or two," some are interpretting that as "it will be the last one they eat for a day or two," which is not the case. Yes, that last meal is usually a nice memory to have.
A big dose of caffeine is probably also a good idea, they will be up very, very late (early).
Caffeine can cause a person to be dehydrated though and that can lead to problems, so water may be a better choice and will help when doing the drug test soon after arrival.