There have been some changes to the following since COVID-19. Each new recruit will have two weeks of ROM (Restriction of Movement) prior to beginning training at RTC. Recruits are assigned bunkmates based on height. Recruits of the same sex are lined up by height and then divided up. During COVID divisions are either all male or all female divisions.
These discussions with Command Master Chief Twiford may answer some of your questions about boot camp in light of COVID-19:
There is also some info in What is it like during the 14 days of ROM?
The form letter now arrives around 10 to 14 business days AFTER ROM.
The following is what happened prior to COVID-19.
Your recruit arrives at Recruit Training Command (RTC) at Camp Moffett. The new recruits begin processing within The Golden Thirteen, Building 1405, Recruit In-processing Center (RIC), at Camp Moffett. There is no sleep for the new recruits from arrival until TAPS the following evening when they are in a temporary Ship, the USS Pearl Harbor, where they sleep during Phase 1 or Processing (P-days) before moving to their permanent Ship. During Phase 1, days begin around 4 am and end between 8 and 10 pm. (Read First 24 Hours for more in this article from the PAO.)
Your recruit will most likely make a very short scripted phone call soon after arrival at RTC. "I made it. I'm here. I'm fine. Look for a letter in a couple of weeks. I will try to call in about 3 weeks. Love ya. I gotta go." (Sometimes they say 2 weeks.) You may be able to get in a quick "I love you." before your recruit hangs up. Calls of 15 seconds or less are common. Recruits are sometimes given 2 minutes for this call, but even then some recruits stick to the basics they are told to share and cut the call short. This call can come at any time, even in the wee hours of the morning for some depending on the flight or bus schedule. This call may be from the recruit's cell phone or a borrowed cell phone from another recruit arriving at the same time since there are no longer phone banks available upon arrival. If your recruit took a cell phone with him or her, then this will be the last call from that phone before your recruit packs it into "the box" for storage in GL to get back after leaving RTC. See Phone Cards and Phone Calls for more on that.
The new recruit will pack "the box" (a 14"x14"x14" brown corrugated cardboard box) with their civilian belongings soon after arriving and beginning Phase 1. The box is no longer sent home. Beginning with DIV 409 in TG 52, which arrived the week of 09/03/2019, these boxes are being stored in Great Lakes and will be returned to the recruits the day before graduation. They will not be able to open the boxes until after they have left RTC.
For the next 7 to 10 weeks, your new recruit will be known as Seaman Recruit (SR) or simply Recruit. During boot camp, s/he will wear a ball cap that says RECRUIT until s/he passes Battle Stations-21 (BST) and then participates in the capping ceremony to follow and exchanges the RECRUIT ball cap for one that says NAVY.
Your recruit will send the form letter once Phase 1 is over and s/he has passed the first PFA and has officially been assigned to a ship and division and the division has been commissioned. (See When to Expect Your Form Letter and Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and Fitness Improvement Training (FIT) for more information.) Those in an 800 Division mail the form letter while still in Phase 1. (See 800 and 900 Divisions.) The form letter arrives in a standard white envelope. Your recruit will fill in the blanks on the form letter, put the form letter in the envelope, seal, and address the envelope to the person of his/her choice. Some recruits are able to quickly add a short note, but most won't be able to and there are no longer lines at the bottom of the form letter to remind a recruit to write something. The form letters are then put in a box and someone at RTC takes care of mailing them. The form letter arrives by US Mail 9 to 14 business days after the recruit's arrival at RTC in most cases. The form letter can arrive about a week after arrival for one with a loved one in an 800 division, but sometimes closer to the 9 business days. It is now seldom less than 9 business days after arrival for most in all other divisions and can be up to three weeks after arrival for some, especially if the recruit had to retest on the first PFA. The form letter is very important, so keep it in a safe place.
There is a Security Access Form that is sent with the form letter that must be completed and returned to your recruit in order to obtain tickets for PIR. Complete the Security Access Form with the info for up to four guests who will be attending PIR using the info on the ID that will be used when picking up the ticket/s. Each guest over the age of two years of age must have a ticket to enter RTC and attend PIR. To see the brochure that is included from MWRGL, go to http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/assets/pdfs/RTC_Friends_and_Family_Brochure_Oct_2017.pdf.)
Recruits are actually assigned to a ship and division upon arrival, but they do not move there until Phase 1 is over and sometimes things happen during Phase 1 or due to the first PFA that result in a recruit being moved to a different ship and/or division than the one that was assigned upon arrival. This is one reason not to send letters until you get the form letter. See Letter Writing & Fun Stuff/Questionnaires to send to your Recruit for more on that. Once you know your recruit's PIR date, watch on the main page of this group or go to http://www.navyformoms.ning.com/forum/topics/groups-listed-by-pir-date and join the group for it once it has been created.
On about their fifth business day at RTC (excluding any HOLD days), the new recruits are tested 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 7 seconds for female recruits. See Navy Sets New Physical Fitness Standard to Start Boot Camp. Those who pass continue with BC. Those who do not pass are moved to FIT and will be retested in 48 hours and must pass in order to continue at RTC. See Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and Fitness Improvement Training (FIT) for more information.
No more stalking the mailman. To get Informed Delivery™ from the USPS, go to https://realmail.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action and put in your ZIP Code and see if it is available in your area. If it is, then Sign Up. With this service you can get images of the mail that will be placed in your mailbox each day. Black and white images of your actual letter-sized mail pieces, processed by USPS® sorting equipment, will be provided to you each morning.
You may want to check out https://www.thebalancecareers.com/navy-boot-camp-4057224, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvKAhmgkoj4, http://usmilitary.about.com/od/navyjoin/l/aanavybasic2.htm, http://www.navydep.com/forums/showthread.php?t=433 (This has the Day by Day, but it is off a bit with the change that occurred beginning in January 2018 to having the run for the first PFA on about the fifth business day after the recruit's arrival at RTC and with other changes that have occurred since then.), http://www.greatlakesnavalmuseum.org/en/the_museum/exhibits/basic_training.aspx, http://rtcexperience.blogspot.com/, and http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/navy-boot-camp-schedule.html for more info. https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2018/11/24/not-your-daddys-boot-camp-why-great-lakes-got-tougher-2/ gives info on some of the changes that have taken place since January 2018.
When using the Day by Day, realize that Week 1, Day 1 Day of Training (1-1 DOT) can begin on any weekday once the division forms and is on their permanent ship. Brother Divisions train together and will be on the same DOT. There is some training on weekends and federal holidays, but those do not count as a DOT. Recruits have “holiday routine” on Sundays. Federal holidays are hold days and are treated as a Saturday or the recruits may have "holiday routine" depending on the holiday. (See 2018 Federal Holidays.) On those days, they have “free time” from about 7 am to 1 pm CST to attend worship services, take long showers, shave (for females), write letters, catch up on studying, do ironing or other tasks, and get to know their shipmates and help each other with the things they are learning among other things. If you want to follow along more closely with what is going on with your recruit, write and ask him/her to date a letter with the calendar date and the DOT. Be sure to ask your recruit when Battle Stations-21 (BST or BS-21) will be. You can then PM others with loved ones in the division and/or Brother Divisions so they will be informed as well, but do not post BST dates openly on the web. There is more on that in Battle Stations-21 (BST). Another thing to remember when using the Day by Day is that each division has its own Master Training Schedule (MTS), and only that division's brother division will have an MTS that is the same or nearly the same. The Day by Day is the closest thing we have to what happens at RTC, but some things may happen for your recruit on a slightly different schedule than what the Sailor posted concerning his experience in 2009. We know that there are now just four regular P-days rather than the previous five and that the first PFA is on about the fifth business day after arrival instead of on 1-5. We know that most recruits get additional immunizations on or about 5-2 DOT and that is not mentioned in the Day by Day. Your recruit will be offered the opportunity to donate blood while at RTC. Blood donations are carefully timed so that they will not interfere with the recruits' training.
To further explain DOT, if your recruit arrives on Monday evening or in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, then P-1 begins around 4:30 am (awakened around 4 am if s/he managed to sleep) on Tuesday. We give 5 days for Phase 1 (P-days), but they can be longer than that if your recruit has to wait for additional recruits to fill the division or as few as 4 days. The schedule would go like this: Tuesday: P-1, Wednesday: P-2, Thursday: P-3, Friday: P-4, Saturday and Sunday: P-HOLD, Monday: P-5, Tuesday: 1-1, Wednesday: 1-2, Thursday: 1-3, Friday: 1-4, Saturday and Sunday: HOLD, Monday: 1-5, Tuesday: 2-1... If any of the days is a federal holiday, then it also becomes HOLD, and the count begins where it left off when the HOLD is finished. Again, the best way to know the DOT is to write and ask your recruit to date a letter with the calendar date and the DOT. If your recruit writes something like "3-4 Hold" for the DOT, that means that 3-5 DOT will be the next weekday that is not a federal holiday. There are 6 weeks of training. Once your recruit has BST, s/he is a Sailor and time is spent preparing for PIR and things are not as intense as they had been.
Training days begin between 4:30 and 6 am (awakened about 30 minutes earlier) and end at 10 pm. HOLD days begin around 5:30 or 6 am and end between 8 and 10 pm. When a recruit has additional P-HOLD days to wait on more recruits to fill the division, the P-HOLD days usually occur after completing regular P-days, but they can also be after the recruit has received the items needed at BC; this happens more for those who have 10 Fridays at RTC. P-days can be as short as 4 days to as long as 17 days, but are seldom over 11 days.
What do recruits do while in P-Hold? While in P-Hold, your recruit will be stenciling items that s/he has so far with his/her last name, identifying number, and division number; learning to iron, fold, make his/her rack, and polish his/her boots/shoes; cleaning his/her compartment on the USS Pearl Harbor; studying the info in the Trainee Guide; sitting on the floor; getting to know his new shipmates; learning the correct way to stand in line, to stand at attention, and to respond to those in command....doing any or all of those several times. They also eat three meals a day.
To guesstimate the PIR date, count 9 Fridays, after your recruit arrived, including the Friday of the week that your recruit arrives at RTC, to get the most likely PIR (graduation) date, but then know that it could be the week before if s/he is one of the last to fill a division from the previous week and is in a "Push Division" (this happens more for those arriving on Monday or Tuesday, but even those arriving on a Wednesday can end up in a Push Division if there were delays in shipping recruits to RTC) or the week after it if there are only a few arriving to start a new division (this happens more for those arriving on Wednesday or Thursday or in the wee hours of Friday if RTC skips a week and does not have PIR, which happens most often around the Christmas and New Year's holidays, but it can happen anytime; it can also happen if there were storms that caused flight delays anytime during the week, which changed the arrival dates for some and/or resulted in some recruits who are bused in to receive an earlier ship date thus increasing the number of recruits arriving that week; it happens often for recruits arriving in June, July, August and September when a lot of recruits are shipped who signed up prior to or at the beginning of their senior year of high school). It is more likely for a recruit to be at RTC for 8 or 9 Fridays than for 10 Fridays. Counting Fridays until PIR may also help to make the time pass more easily than counting days.
The Navy graduates approximately 38,000 Sailors annually from RTC, currently the Navy's only basic training location. (See http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=81894.)
The recruits will spend some time on board the USS Red Rover during Phase 1. (See http://www.lovell.fhcc.va.gov/locations/USSRedRover.asp to learn more.)
There are three Camps at RTC. Camp Moffett is across the street from the other two Camps. It is all RTC.
~ Camp Moffett is the main in-processing area. This is where the recruits will arrive.
~ Camp Porter is the main recruit training area where most of the training takes place.
~ Camp John Paul Jones is mainly for housing of the recruits.
This PowerPoint by Craig that will show you where everything is and will give you more information on RTC. (Craig is retired Navy and runs NavyDEP.com and is also on this site.) Although you are not able to take any outside photos when you go to RTC for PIR, the information at https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/1797851045?profile=original is within the public domain and is allowed to be posted.
Fun Fact: When passing under the tunnel that connects Camp Moffett and Camp Porter in full divisional formation, divisions must sing "Anchors Aweigh" whether they are marching or walking at ease.
Naval Station Great Lakes is a large base and contains many commands. The two commands that we hear the most about are RTC - Recruit Training Command and the TSC - Training Support Center, where some of your newly graduated Sailors will go to "A" school or other training prior to going out into the Fleet. The TSC is about a mile up the road from RTC on the other side of the street. RTC's portion of the base is considered a "closed base" and can only be accessed with a ticket that is obtained the day before or the day of PIR and is only good for PIR weekend, or by those assigned to that command who have the authorization to be there. Those with military ID or a sponsor are able to enter the Main part of the base on the other side of the street at any time.
All Hands Magazine's mini-documentary series "Making a Sailor": These six videos follow four recruits through Boot Camp in the spring of 2018 who were assigned to DIV 229, an integrated division, which had PIR on 05/25/2018.
There are lots of interesting videos on N4M. Click the Videos tab above and then "View All" under the Featured Videos at the top of the page when it comes up.
You may find these Blogs informative as well: Welcome to the Deep End, Treading Water, and Time to Paddle. That is not an official Navy site (and neither is N4M), but it does have some good information.
Remember in the Navy "No news is good news!" Here are some things that you do know: s/he is safe; s/he is physically fit or will be getting there; s/he is learning new things that will help him/her throughout his/her life; s/he is being fed well; s/he has any medical and dental needs taken care of; s/he is making friends; and you know where s/he is since s/he is at RTC. If there is a problem, you will be called and that is not a call you want to receive. You have placed him/her in the best hands of all--those of God and the US Navy.
This is one of my favorite quotes from a Navy Mom concerning BC: "Gosh, waiting on PIR is almost like being pregnant again! never gonna get here and don't know what kind of kid I'll have when I finally get to see him...." (Thanks crystaldj1972 for posting that on February 5, 2010.)
The above information is provided by lemonelephant, the mom of a retired Sailor.
Last updated 07/08/2020 with one revision concerning the day of PIR on 11/9/2023