The correct format for the address is:
SR LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MI
SHIP XX DIV XXX
XXXX ????? STREET or SAILOR DRIVE
GREAT LAKES IL 60088-XXXX
(No, you do not need to use all capital letters even though your recruit will. It does make the address easier to be read though.)
SR stands for Seaman Recruit. All recruits are addressed as Seaman Recruit or Recruit at boot camp even if they are being paid at a higher rate or will later be referred to as Fireman, Airman, or Constructionman (Recruit or Apprentice) and all mail should be addressed to your recruit using SR.
Your recruit will mail the form letter, which will include the address, to you the day after passing the first PFA, which means it will be mailed no earlier than the sixth business day after arriving at RTC. (See When to Expect Your Form Letter.) (You can find a copy of the current form letter in the Page, The Form Letter. The brochure that is included from MWRGL about hotels and other things is at RTC Friends and Family Brochure July 2017 rev.pdf.) The average time to receive the form letter now is seldom less than 9 business days after arrival and can be 14 business days or more after arrival for some, especially if the recruit failed the first PFA and passed on the second attempt. (See Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and Fitness Improvement Training (FIT).)
It is best to wait for the form letter before mailing letters to your recruit since things can happen that will result in the recruit being moved from the division the recruit was assigned to upon arrival at RTC. If you have waited at least three calendar weeks since your recruit arrived at RTC and you decide to get an address from your recruit's recruiter, then double-check the address the recruiter gave you against those at http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/contact.html#contact. Recruiters sometimes give a generic address for RTC and if the street address is not correct, then mail can be delayed for up to 3 weeks or not get to your recruit at all. Common addresses that recruiters have given for all ships have been the address for Ship 02 or Ship 07 or Ship 12 or Ship 14.
Sometimes the recruiter will give you the Ship name or a building number instead of, or as well as, the Ship number, use the Ship number found within the Page, Ship/Division--How it Works. You do not need to include the Ship name, but if your recruit uses it when writing letters, then do include it when addressing your letters. Some include “Recruit Training Command” or “RTC” under the Ship and Division, but this is not needed and leaving it out will not delay letters to your recruit even though it does indicate it on the form letter. If the recruiter indicates a 4-digit division number, either he has confused the building number with the division number (Ship 09 Div 7116) or the recruit is in holding for some reason (RCU-Ship 04 Div 2341, FIT-Ship 04 Div 2347 or 2344...).
When recruiters actually do have the correct information, they sometimes give extra information that you do not need in the address, although some of it is interesting or nice to know. "Ship 11 USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) 7114 Compartment F-01; Division R2011124M" is an actual address received from a recruiter by a mom on the site in 2011. The important info in there was Ship 11 Division 124. The recruit was on Ship 11, which is the USS Kearsarge (its Naval Vessel Index number is LHD-3), Building 7114, Compartment F-01, Division 124 (an all Male Rifle division that would have PIR in the 2011 Navy fiscal year). An "I" after the Division number indicates it is an integrated division and includes both males and females. An "F" behind it would indicate that is an all female division--rare, but Division 317 in 2012 was an all female division and beginning in the summer of 2013 there was one all female division in each TG for a short time until the practice was discontinued. Compartment numbers are a letter (A through F) followed by a 2-digit number (01 or 02)--A-01, B-02, and F-01 for example. There are 12 or 16 compartments in each ship, so a ship can house up to 12 or 16 divisions at one time depending on the ship. (See Ship/Division--How it Works.)
This address was provided by a recruiter and includes both too much info and incorrect info: 3410 Sailor Drive, 02 USS Reuben James (FFG-57) 7105, Division T 2016 951, Compartment B-1, Great Lakes, IL 60088-3510. The address is not in the correct order and the address given is for Ship 14 rather than Ship 2. I don't know for sure what the "T" stands for, but it may indicate that this was a Triple Threat Division (it was). The important info from that address is that the recruit is in Ship 2 Division 951 in a TG that began training in the 2016 Navy fiscal year. The correct address can be found in Ship/Division--How it Works and 800 and 900 Divisions.
Know that letters mailed before you get the form letter do not get to your recruit much quicker, if at all, than letters mailed after receiving the form letter because the recruits cannot receive mail until they are in their permanent ship and a Recruit Mail Petty Officer has been trained in how to handle mail, which means it is usually sometime in the third week or later (1-3 or 1-4 DOT) when they start receiving mail depending on when P-days ended and the division officially formed. We are hearing that many recruits had one Mail Call without mail when their loved ones waited on the form letter. Recruits can start writing letters the first Sunday they are in their Ship. This is now not until the third Sunday for most, which is why that first real letter often does not arrive until your recruit has been gone around 3 weeks. (The Red Book actually indicates that the first holiday routine cannot be before the second Sunday after arrival, and some may be fortunate enough to write then if their division filled early.) For some recruits who arrive on Thursday or Friday and have to remain in P-days while waiting for additional recruits to arrive the following Monday or Tuesday to fill the division, it could be the fourth Sunday before they get to write. (You will soon learn when mail day is for you. Most of my letters came on Wednesday in Missouri, but your mail day may be before or after that depending on how far you are from RTC.)
At first recruits are only permitted to write during holiday routine on Sunday and later they may be able to write on one or two other days as well (often Tuesday and Thursday) and some Divisions may earn the privilege of writing every day if they are doing really well or if the RDC feels that providing that privilege will boost morale. Letters are put in the mail bag on Sunday and the RMPO mails them on Monday unless Monday is a federal holiday. Any letters written throughout the week won't go in the mail bag until Sunday during holiday routine. Some RDCs permit letters to be placed in the mail bag only on Sunday afternoon with mail going out Monday morning even when they can write on other days and others permit them to put letters in the mail bag on the day they are written for the RMPO to mail the next morning. It is up to the RDC and there does not seem to be a "norm" for this.
Once your recruit can receive mail, Mail Call is every weekday evening (M-F). All mail received at RTC is distributed to the recruits on the same day that it is processed. The division's RMPO distributes the mail to the recruits during Mail Call in their compartments that evening sometime prior to Taps. Mail Call may be before or after the evening meal depending on the schedule for the day. The RDC is not permitted to withhold mail as a punishment because that would be a federal offense, so your recruit will receive mail from you on the day that it is processed at RTC. (See http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=90290 for more on how mail is processed.) It is common for recruits to indicate in their first letter that they have not received mail due to the way that mail is processed at RTC, but your letters will get to your recruit, not necessarily in the order you sent them, as long as you use the address in The Form Letter.
Start writing as soon as your recruit leaves even though you don’t have an address and number the letters on the outside. Write often. The recruits look forward to Mail Call and letters and cards are a precious treasure. Letters and pictures often get passed around especially if there are some who do not get letters. You may want to include a brief letter or two in your envelope to be given to a shipmate who has not gotten any mail. Recruits can receive photos that are in good taste (the recruit must show all photos to the RDC), but to save space, you can print the pictures on computer paper and write your letter around them either by hand or on the computer. Use both sides of the paper if you have a lot to send. Do not send musical or recordable cards, or cards/letters with glitter or flocking that comes off, or contains confetti, or anything that will be messy or draw undo attention to your recruit. (Glitter and confetti are difficult to clean up and even one speck would be considered "gear adrift" and result in a "hit" on an inspection.) Some RDC’s do not permit newspaper or magazine clippings and others do. (One reason that RDC' s do not permit newspaper or magazine clippings is that the ink may transfer to your recruit's hands and then to clothing and/or objects within the compartment.) If you want to send articles (such as information on your recruit's favorite sports team), then copy the information either on the computer or a copy machine and then write your letter around it by hand or on the computer. Printing or writing your letter on both sides of the paper will reduce the number of pages. Write about anything and everything except things that will distress your recruit. It’s fine to let your recruit know that you miss him/her, but always follow it with how proud you are of him/her and how much you are looking forward to seeing him/her in his/her dress whites or dress blues at PIR as a US Navy Sailor. (GL changes over to dress blues the first full week of October and to dress whites the first full week of May. The command determines the switch over date and it could change from that if the need arose.) Be creative; send letters written as though they are from the baby or pet (one sister let her recruit's hamster chew a corner of a letter written as if from it and added hamster tracks on the page; others have sent a page of "woof, woof, woof..." and signed or have sent "meow, meow, purrr...." and signed ); include drawings and pictures (you may want to print them within your letter to save room); tell about your day, even hearing about a trip to the store could be wonderful for your recruit; include puzzles if your recruit enjoys those; add jokes; include information about your recruit's favorite television program (you may be able to find short recaps online) and things that are happening in the world that would be of interest to him/her as long as they are not distressing. The group, Letter-Writing Navy Moms also has suggestions for things to write. Be sure to ask your recruit to let his/her shipmates know about navyformoms.ning.com and your PIR group so that they can let their loved ones know because not everyone finds the site and there is so much information and support for everyone here and it is sad if they miss out on it.
Get others involved. Give your recruit's address to his family and friends so that they can write. Some people, including recruiters, post the address on the recruit's facebook, but it is better to share it in a private message. One mother hosted a writing party in her home for her recruit's friends and she has also had an event on facebook so people could send her notes of encouragement to print out and mail to her recruit. I wrote out my recruit's address on Post-Its and put them inside blank greeting cards inside envelopes that I had already addressed and stamped. I gave them to people when they asked for his address and they could remove the Post-It to have his address and jot a quick note at the time that was ready to mail. Children love to write and send pictures they have drawn and they are fun for the recruit, so get a school class or Sunday School class involved. Be sure that everyone understands what is acceptable and what is not and also let them know how your recruit wants to handle bad news just in case that situation arises.
Ask your recruit for the names of any shipmates who are not receiving mail. There are some recruits who do not have any family to write them letters and mail from you or others will mean so much to them. If there are several names, you can share the names in a PM to others in your PIR group. Some have shared the names with a Sunday School class or Scout troop or class at school--letters and pictures from children are usually fun for anyone to get. You can include an extra letter in the envelope with your letters for someone who doesn't have a letter. Letters mailed to "Any Recruit" will be destroyed or returned to the sender and will not be delivered because of federal mail regulations. Letters must be addressed to a particular recruit in order to be delivered. One mom wrote 2 letters each day addressed to her recruit and she put a star in the corner of one; this was her signal to her recruit that he could give the letter unopened to a shipmate who did not receive a letter at Mail Call. A few of the recipients wrote her back and then she was able to write to them directly, but she continued with the "star" letters until the end of BC. We are all part of the Navy family and family helps family. If you are able to adopt a Sailor for PIR weekend who does not have anyone coming that would be great. (See PIR Day and Liberty During PIR Weekend.)
Sending cards and letters in colored envelopes does not usually cause a problem for the recruits. Some (not all) RDC’s will give IT (Intensive Training—extra exercises) for colored envelopes and stickers on the outside of envelopes and others don’t care. If the division or your recruit needs extra help to be ready for the PFA, then the RDC is going to look for every opportunity to give IT so that everyone makes it to PIR. If your recruit indicates that you should write in a particular color of ink or tells you not to send something, then pay attention and let others who are writing him/her (and those in your PIR group as well) know. Do avoid using red ink when you write; there is a red light on at night and if your recruit decides to read a letter before going to sleep (even though they aren’t supposed to), s/he will have difficulty reading red ink. You want to avoid sending anything that will require extra postage because that is a red flag and your recruit may have to open the letter/card in front of the RDC. If you have more than 4 pages in your letter, have a postal clerk weigh the envelope. *If you will be sending lots of pages (such as when a class writes to a recruit/division), have a postal clerk help you determine the maximum number of pages you can send using the paper and envelope you plan to use. One ounce goes for the standard postage rate, so you may be able to send more pages with a lower quality of paper than if you use a high quality paper. What happens after the recruit opens mail in front of the RDC all depends on the RDC and his/her mood at the time and how well the recruit/division is doing at the time. Although post cards are permitted and will save you postage, be aware that post cards are often read aloud, so some put post cards in an envelope and treat them as a greeting card instead.
*When you send cards or letters for the whole division, it is fine to send them in a manila envelope. You must address the envelope to your recruit because all mail must be addressed to a particular recruit. Write "Letters/Cards for Division XXX" in the corner of the envelope so the RDC is aware of the contents and is less likely to give your recruit IT. Know that your recruit will have to open the envelope in front of the RDC, but there is usually not a problem when a recruit receives cards and letters from a class if they follow the guidelines given above, especially if there are enough for the entire division--if in doubt about the number, include 95. (Some loved ones choose to send a few letters at a time in a regular envelope rather than sending many at one time if the letters are for a single recruit.)
Don't freak out if your recruit uses a slightly different address than the one in the form letter, but the Ship and Division numbers are the same. If you use the address your recruit uses in the return address your letters will get to him/her a little faster since the +4 is more specific. Letters mailed to either address will get to your recruit.
When there are renovations at RTC, then one or more divisions and their brother divisions sometimes get moved and the Ship number and street address changes. Don’t worry; the RMPO for the division and the mail room are aware of the move and any mail sent to the old address will be forwarded. Use the new address as soon as you have it. Some have been concerned that the change in ship numbers will affect the PIR date, but it does not. As long as the division number is the same, the PIR date will remain the same. You can check the PIR date at http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/tg_grad_dates.html.
Some loved ones include self-addressed stamped envelopes for their recruits to use for letters to them. This does save their recruits some time, but then they miss out on receiving the envelopes with RTC logo on them. Also, some recruits never use the envelopes that are sent to them, so that is a waste of the postage. If you want to save your recruit the time it takes to address letters, then send address labels and you can also send a book of stamps (your recruit can get them at RTC though). There are two times that it is good to send preaddressed stamped envelopes. They are when sending a questionnaire, such as BCQuestionnaire, to get the PIR info when no form letter has been received and if the recruit has family or friends in another country because those letters will require additional postage and the recruit might not know how much is needed or may not have the correct amount of postage. You do not need to send paper and/or envelopes to your recruit unless s/he requests them. RTC stationery is available for the recruits.
Do not send packages or envelopes of any kind that require more than standard postage. Those would have to be opened in front of the RDC and your recruit may not be permitted to keep the contents and may also receive IT or other consequences. Save any "Care Packages", especially those containing food, for "A" School or training after BC. Recruits, including those in the RCU, are not permitted to have books or magazines other than the training materials provided by RTC. RTC indicates the following in http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/faq.html#contacting_recruits: "Because space is limited in the barracks, recruits may receive letters and small photographs only. Please do not send your recruit packages of civilian clothing, toiletries, food items, etc. as they will not be permitted to keep them."
The exception is that about 3 to 4 weeks before PIR you can send contacts and a small amount of solution. Writing "Contacts for PIR" in the corner of the small box or padded envelope is useful, but not necessary since your recruit will have to open the package in front of the RDC. You can also send a small amount of make-up for the females that will "blend with natural skin tone and enhance natural features." The most often requested items are a small amount of foundation (some have specified the cake type) or face powder, 1 blush, 1 eye shadow in a neutral shade, 1 mascara (black or brown), 1 eyebrow/eyeliner pencil (black or brown), 1 lipstick in a conservative color, and 1 small hand lotion or face lotion. Females sometimes also get approval to have curling irons or flat irons sent (more often for 900 Divisions though), but do not send one unless your recruit specifically requests it. Most RDC’s allow band aids and strips of mole skin as well as stamps and calling cards and those will fit in a regular envelope and your recruit can also get them at the NEX, but DO NOT send cotton swabs even if your recruit asks you to, which s/he better not. If your recruit requests his/her Bible, then send it. Most regular Bibles will fit in the recruit’s A/B drawer, but a Study Bible is discouraged because it will take up too much room and will not leave room for other things. Some RDC's give permission for the recruits (usually females) to receive travel sized containers of some hygiene products that are not available at the NEX. Some recruits have also gotten permission to have shoe inserts sent, especially if they have had trouble with their feet or have had leg pain. Recruits are able to have watches at RTC and may ask for one to be sent, especially if they have one of the Recruit Petty Officer Positions. Unless the recruit specifies a specific watch, send an inexpensive plain black water resistant watch. If your recruit makes such a request, it will generally be very specific as to how to send the items and what to send and this will help you to know that you can send it since your recruit will have to open the package in front of the RDC and s/he would not make this request if s/he were going to get IT for it and/or the items were going to be tossed.
You can send a Priority Mail envelope or large manila envelope with postage attached for your recruit to mail back letters to free up space--save postage on both the envelope to mail it and the envelope you are sending and send a manila envelope. Check with the post office on the amount of postage to use. Many fold it up and put it in a card envelope minus the card to keep the postage down or in a regular legal sized envelope, but the envelope would be permitted if the postage was more than regular postage. Some send this in a small manila envelope and mark the outside of the envelope—“Envelope for excess letters.” This will let your recruit know what it is for when s/he has to open the envelope in front of the RDC. Ask your recruit if it is needed because some have plenty of room in their A/B drawers and others don't. Some just like having a gallon-sized zip lock baggy or the large envelope to organize their mail in their A/B drawers.
If you receive a "real" letter without receiving the form letter, don't worry. Determine if there is another person that your recruit would have sent the form letter to and ask to see it. If no one received a form letter, then print out the Security Access Form and complete it with the names and information for up to four guests who will be attending PIR and mail it to your recruit. Some recruits have not sent the form letter because they had a medical or dental appointment or were being interviewed for security clearance when the form letters were being sent. (You can find a copy of the current form letter in the Page, The Form Letter. It also includes a copy of the Security Access Form. The brochure that is included from MWRGL about hotels and other things is at RTC Friends and Family Brochure July 2017 rev.pdf.)
If your recruit will spend Christmas or another special day at RTC, be sure that any cards that are sent don't contain any glitter or flocking that will come off and are not musical or talking cards. The only "gift" you can send is a NEX gift card. Some have wrapped it in tissue paper or gift wrap and put it inside a money-gift envelope and put it inside a regular Christmas card. This way, the envelope arrives and is no different than a regular card they might receive in the mail, and yet there is still a wrapped 'present' inside for your recruit to be able to open and still have a little bit of Christmas while in boot camp. You can go to https://www.shopmyexchange.com/scs to get a NEX gift card if you have a DOD number and register with the site. You can also send gift cards to the NEX through the Sandboxx - Military App. Also remember, if the card/letter requires extra postage or appears bulky, your recruit will have to open it in front of the RDC. Your recruit will have access to his/her pay while at RTC, so s/he does not need you to send money, but this is a nice idea if you want to do it, especially for a Christmas or birthday gift and the NEX card can be used after PIR if your then Sailor has "A" School or training at a Navy base or it can be used once s/he arrives at his/her first duty station. Many Sailors still have money on their NEX cards at the end of boot camp, so a NEX gift card in BC is not really needed. RDC's do not typically give IT for cards sent in colored envelopes for Christmas and other holidays, but if your recruit tells you not to send colored envelopes, then don't send them and let others know not to send them as well.
Here are some links to some fun things you can include in your letters.
Word searches: http://www.armoredpenguin.com/wordsearch/
Bible Verses: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-soldiers-20-great-scripture-quotes/, http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-encouragement-20-great-scripture-quotes/, http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071128184221AANHx6h
Some like to use questionnaires to help their recruits with letter writing and get the information they need, sometimes in a fun way. Here are some that are posted within the N4M site. They are in no particular order, just how I found them. Some will need to be revised because they include outdated terms such as "Grad and Go", but they still have good questions. Please feel free to post other questionnaires you have found or have created. (I sometimes have to refresh the page once it loads for it to go to the particular comment/reply that includes the questionnaire.)
Recruit Questionnaires (There are more in the replies to this discussion as well.)
Questionnaires (There are more in the replies as well.)
There may also be a Page or Discussion within your PIR group with other links.
The above information is provided by lemonelephant, the mom of a retired Sailor.