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.
#1) The Navy will not spoon feed information to parents. If you want to know what's what, you need to do your own research at this site or those run by the Navy. There are caring moms here who will guide you.
#2) Information from Recruiters regarding Boot Camp is always suspect. What most Recruiters know about RTC is based on personal experience from long ago. Things have changed since their days as a Recruit.
That said, your daughter can take her phone, but after calling home on the night she arrives to say that she is OK, it will be sent home with most of her other civilian possessions. Calling cards can be taken to RTC, sent in the mail or purchased at the RTC NEX (Navy Exchange.
Lisa, I left info for you on your My Page.
Yes, get her a calling card and activate it since you will be receiving her cell phone in "the box" a few days to a week after she arrives.
The most useful, updated information comes from moms who have recently gone through the entire boot camp process. Unfortunately, most moms take without giving back. You are going to stick around for the long haul, right? :)
They go to MEPS twice. Once to sign the contract and do the delayed entry paperwork, the next time is when they are going to ship out and take the official oath.
First time is like a promise or engagement ring, second time is like the wedding ceremony. Does that make sense?
Yes, he should grab something to eat. Yes, he will be given a time to check in at the USO.