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.
We're from Ohio and I'm really tired of the cold weather this winter! This is getting hard the last few weeks. He is my baby! My husband and I will be on our own, although our older son is close, finishing college. I keep telling myself that he's just moving away for a job. The bootcamp thing will be rough. I'm so glad I found this group, because my friends are probably tired of hearing me! I too plan on making some trips to S.C.
My son leaves for BC on March 13th and every day is getting worse / harder for me! :o( Now am I understanding this correctly as far as the day he leaves for MEPS? I will take him to his recruiters office then they will head up to MEPS hotel for the night until they get up and leave the next morning for BC and before they leave, that's when they get sworn in, which we can be there for correct? If we are allowed to be there for his swearing in, can I get a room at the same hotel he's staying in so I can spend a little more time one last time? And one last stupid question, are we for sure allowed to go to the airport with them until they get aboard the plane? I am getting anxious and so I am trying to make all my plans ahead of time! :o(
I would highly recommend saying your final good-byes BEFORE he leaves for the hotel - at home. This way it is on your terms and it keeps things simple - you can cry with him and he won't be embarrased. The travel arrangements you are thinking of making rely on some exact timing that can easily go wrong. Once they get to the hotel there are other recruits that he will meet and they start getting to know each other. You don't want him teased about his mom hanging around. Things start getting nervous/serious for the recruits on the swearing in morning - you do not want to add onto his stress. Let him get to know the other recruits before they are not allowed to talk. Think of this as the first day of Kindergarten - the less you linger, the easier it will be for him. This is a choice he made and he couldn't be going to a safer place. You will be OK. The letters and phone calls will come and you will know he is fine.
Also what you can do after your last good-byes is to start writing your first letter to him. Sort of diary style since it will be a few days until you receive the form letter and his address. You have to get strong for him so he does not worry about you while he is trying to learn all of these new things. Try to find a new activity so that you will have something new to put in your letters to him and let him know you are OK.
Yes, you can get a room at the same hotel and can even have dinner with him that evening at the hotel. Yes, you are able to go to the airport, but some recruits prefer that parents don't; check with him to see what he wants.
Is this process still correct, today?
Others are telling us this is still pretty accurate with the following corrections:
1. The info on not eating for a day or two is not correct--if your recruit does not eat at the airport, then he would only miss one meal--that one at the airport. (See earlier comments on this.)
2. There are no pay phones available upon arrival now, so your future Sailor needs to take his cell phone to make the "I've arrived!" call; otherwise he would have to borrow one from another arriving recruit and sometimes there just isn't enough time for everyone to borrow one and so the call would not be made until the weekend after arrival.
Make sure your future Sailor takes phone cards because most calls after that first call require a phone card. Be sure to check out the discussion, Things to Do in the Last Month Before Your Future Sailor Leaves for the RTC for other things that you will want to take care of.
I'll never forget our last afternoon before the recruiter can to pick up our son and take him to the hotel and the next morning at MEPS! I took a very shaking video of the oath of office ceremony and treasure it still today.
When they pass, they are simply sent along to their A school.
Plan for your recruit to pass everything and have PIR on time. Yes, some do fail something, but most do have PIR as scheduled. I see you have joined Boot Camp Moms (and loved ones); be sure to check out the Pages (found under the pictures of the Members). The Page Battle Stations-21 (BST) gives more info about what happens if a recruit does not pass something before BST. Again, think positive for even some who call to say that they may be delayed do go on to have PIR on time.
When you get your SR's form letter, be sure to watch in Boot Camp Moms (and loved ones) and join the group for the PIR date whe it is created.