The First Half of Navy Boot Camp
I hope you're ready for an intense time. Your experience at Boot Camp begins as soon as you step off of the bus and are met by one of your Division Commanders. If you show up at Boot Camp having not prepared physically for the experience, you are in for a wild ride on that front. Be prepared, mentally, to be picked apart for being different. Here is a brief run-down on what you'll experience in the next eight to nine weeks:
1. Week One - During week one you will go through processing. You will fill out a lot of forms regarding health, benefits, wages, direct deposit, insurance, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and much more. If you haven't yet memorized your social security number, you will want to before you leave for boot camp, you'll be writing it on everything. Once you've finished processing, then the real fun starts.
2. Week Two - Week two finds you tired, irritable and wondering what the heck you got yourself into. You will get used to waking up at 0600, I promise. This week you will begin physical conditioning and participate in a confidence course. The focus for this week of training is team-building. You will learn to rely on your shipmates, and the confidence course is a big start.
3. Week Three - In a hands-on environment, this week you will learn first aid techniques, signalling with flags, the proper procedure to board and disembark a ship, and basic seamanship. You will do this training on a real ship situated in a large hangar. Your first PT (physical training) test is administered during week three, the areas tested are 1.5 mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. This is often called the PT0, because it is the starting point from which you will improve.
4. Week Four - Time for weapon training. You will go through safety training, then weapon training in a supervised range environment. This is the halfway point in your academic training, as well as the week during which you will take your graduation photos in preparation for your Pass and Review ceremony.
The Second Half of Boot Camp
You've reached the home stretch at this point, with four more weeks to go! Here's what you'll do during the second half of boot camp:
1. Week Five - More classes, more training, and a lot more PT. By this point you've learned how to do everything the way the Navy wants you too, and though you may not feel like it -- you've changed. Rigorous training and a restricted diet, a fast paced and active training style in and out of the classroom, and a behavioral structure deeply rooted in forming a team bond between you and up to 100 total strangers have all contributed to your change, and in most cases this change is for the best.
2. Week Six - Fire fighting training, and shipboard damage control classes. This week you will learn how to put fires out, how to properly don fire safety gear in case you must fight a fire onboard ship, how to open and close watertight doors, and operate fire fighting equipment. This week also finds you and your shipmates inside the gas chamber, being exposed to tear gas while you and everyone else recites name and social security number. You will also go through the confidence course again, further solidifying the concept of teamwork and comraderie.
3. Week Seven - At this point, you're nearly finished with boot camp. Excitement sets in and now you're ready for the final test: Battle Stations. Battle Stations is a twelve hour event held to test your entire division on how well you've absorbed everything you've learned so far. If you are present at the call for Battle Stations, this means you have successfully passed all academic and physical challenges presented to you up to this point, and are ready for this final test. You will be pushed to the very brink here, and will find that once it is over and you stand in the finishing room, dirty, beyond weary, emotional and drained. All that fades away as the Commanding Officer in charge of RTC Great Lakes comes in to personally congratulate you, presenting you and your division with your new status as a United States Sailor -- your Navy ball cap.
4. Week Eight - Graduation/Pass and Review. Aside from everything mentioned above, part of your training has been in drill and ceremony. That portion of your training will come in to play here, where you march proudly, shoulders squared and with a bolstered confidence before friends, family, and thousands of supportive individuals from all walks of life. There is nothing like it in the whole world.
What happens after boot camp?
After pass and review, your newly capped Sailor will pack his or her bags, be given orders and travel information for their next level of training - "A" School - and be on a much more mundane journey to learning their actual JOB while they serve their time. During "A" school they'll experience life as a Sailor in a whole new way...
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