First things first.....New Moms.... Take a Deep Breath in....... Let it out...... Take another one......... Let it out....... Repeat continuously!!! Just keep breathing and it will all be OK!! We haven’t lost a mom to Boot camp yet, we won’t start with you.
If your Child has NOT left yet, Read on. IF THEY HAVE LEFT Skip to the next section. Nothing here is critical, but it is useful.
If your Recruit has not left yet: have him or her leave you a voicemail message so when you just can't stand it you can hear their message (Over and Over and Over, Just don’t listen to it till after they've been gone for at least 24 hrs. You’ll know when it’s time.), Sneak a note of encouragement in their wallet and ask them to leave you a note at home so you can find it there. One of the Moms suggested setting a time of day that they would be thinking about/ praying for their SR. That way they would always be connected. Also have them call as soon as they land in Chicago. It will be your last "Visit" until the call home around week 3 or 4. Also talk with them about who they want to be told about and when, should something happen back home. I know this is an uncomfortable topic but it is important to know. They likely would not be able to come home unless it is for their Immediate family.(Mom, Dad, Siblings)
Other things to take care of before your Recruit leaves: Please go read this page! It is Very Helpful and has a complete list of all the things you may want to consider before they leave. Keep in mind it was written some time ago and the box is no longer shipped home (take the Charger for their phone!!)and a few other things may have also changed but the basic gist is still there. https://navyformoms.ning.com/forum/topics/things-to-do-in-the-last-...
If you have time I would get Power of Attorney’s for: any real property, A financial power of attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney There are many places that you can get the forms for free Online and then you just have to get them notarized. I also suggest they open an account with Navy Federal Credit Union if you have a location near you. (the article goes into why and what all they will need otherwise) If you also have the time I strongly suggest you look into getting a Civilian Passport or at least getting all the paperwork filled out unless they are going to a Long A school (nuke or corpsman). Most of the time they can and will travel “on orders”, However if they are stationed overseas they will need a passport to travel outside of their “Station Country” (and Europe has many wonderful countries to see but some are smaller than many of our States!!). If they have to travel under an emergency or something happens to their orders they will at least have their Passport to allow for some greater ease in travel.
Now on to P-Days and what the first few weeks may hold.
Day of Departure/ MEPS/ Flying out-- After they Swear in (You MAY be able to attend this ceremony, Depending on COVID protocols in your area) they will be transported to the Airport to fly to Chicago (unless you live close by in which case they are bused.) Shortly after arrival they will make the “I am Here Call” This usually comes Very late at night or Early morning (Ours came at 1:30am Mountain time) It is Scripted and they are not allowed to vary what is said. You can read the script in the boot camp files but I advise just talking over your SR (Seaman Recruit) and telling them you love them and are proud of them and you KNOW they GOT THIS and OH Yeah… You LOVE THEM!!! Don’t expect an answer but know they will have heard you!
The Processing Days.
P1 begins the Day of Arrival and continues through the night and into the next day. So If your SR (Seaman Recruit) Swore in on Tuesday then Wednesday counts as P1. As you count the P-days DO NOT count Saturday or Sunday or Federal Holidays—Those will be P-Hold days. In My example it would look like this P1- Wed, P2- Thurs, P3- Fri, P-hold- Sat & Sun, P4- Mon and P5- Tue. On P5 they take the initial PFA. (It can be P-4 if they are in a Push Division) Assuming they pass the PFA They will then move into their Ship (Berthing space). "Weeks" can "Begin on any business day so don't get stuck thinking that their week will always start on a Monday. PIR however is Nearly Always on a Friday (Thanksgiving week is the exception)
If they opt into Sandboxx then you may receive their mailing address and Division (Div) as soon as 3 days after they arrived at BC. You DO NOT have to use Sandboxx to send mail but you can if you choose. This is a new change (less than 6 months as of the writing of this blog) so we don’t know if Sandboxx letters mailed in the first couple of weeks are delivered during P-days or not. There is a fee associated with sending mail through Sandboxx, but you can still receive the address at no charge. Please discuss this with your SR before they leave if you are able.
This is Phase 1 of boot camp which begins when recruits first arrive on board RTC. The new recruits will begin filling in their paperwork; they are given further medical and psychological evaluations and receive their inoculations; and receive an initial set of PT gear; are interviewed; and will be assigned to a division. When P-Week is over, Boot Camp officially begins. Phase 1 can be as short as 4 days to as long as 2 weeks, but are seldom over 11 days. (See Arrival and What Happens at RTC and https://www.mypoints.com/emp/u/videos.vm.)
This marks the transition to Training Days. Usually denoted as W1TD1 (Week 1 Training Day 1). This is the day that they traditionally fill out the form letter that gets mailed home. This is where the first big change has happened. If your SR has opted into Sandboxx then you may receive their mailing address and Division (Div) as soon as 3 days after they arrived at BC. You DO NOT have to use Sandboxx to send mail but you can if you choose. This is a new change (less than 6 months as of the writing of this blog) so we don’t know if Sandboxx letters mailed in the first couple of weeks are delivered during P-days or not. There is a fee associated with sending mail through Sandboxx, but you can still receive the address at no charge. Please discuss this with your SR before they leave if you are able. If they opt into Sandboxx then RTC advises that the form letter is NOT mailed out, however we have had scattered reports that some moms have gotten both and others have had nothing for weeks on end…. So this next part is still germane.
The form letter is collected and mailed the next business day (W1D2) of their training week (Remember we do not count Sat, Sun or Holidays). Usually that letter arrives home between 14 and 21 business days since departure, HOWEVER there are reasons it may be delayed. If they didn’t pass the initial PFA, If they were on P-hold waiting for others to join to fill the Div/ TG, If they were waiting on paperwork….. If Ma Navy was just not feeling it that day…. Lots of reasons that are NOT cause to panic.
The first 3 weeks are hard but Repeat after me.... No News is Good News!! Again... No News is GOOD NEWS!!! Repeat daily, hourly, Minute by minute as necessary!! Shout it if you need to or whisper it as a prayer! Whatever gets you through!! Come to this site and post on the Main BC page or in your PIR group page. There are many other moms who are here to support you through this time! The Form letter or Sandboxx will give you the address and PIR date!! Time to start making plans to help get your mind off the silence!! Make refundable or Changeable travel plans, work on Room Decorations, make or source a blue candle, take up a hobby so you ahve someting to write to your sailor about. Remember that letters sent in the first 2-3 weeks of training may not arrive in a timely fashion since the Mail Petty Officer has to be trained and until that happens mail is set aside to be sorted later and sometimes that later is MUCH later!! They do try and get the mail delivered but this process is still in place. (If you have information that confirms that mail is getting delivered in the first 2-3 weeks please let me know so I can update this blog.) This is honestly the hardest part of Boot camp! Your emotions are still raw from letting go of your Child and knowing that for better or worse they will be changed by this experience (even those who don’t complete it are changed!) and add to that the Communications Blackout that is imposed and it can be quite overwhelming but trust us that they know you love them, they feel your prayers and you will get a chance to send letters!
Around week 3 you will get the first call home. They may be homesick and there may be tears so be prepared and be strong. (You can come here and cry later, to quote my favorite wizard…”I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” It’s ok to cry about missing your baby, even if they are mostly full grown!! (We are over 10 years in and I still cry on occasion—Navy Mom Allergies!!!) It does not mean you are weak or not proud!!). The call can come on ANY day of the Week at any time from 9am-9pm Central time. Keep Phones charged and ringers on LOUD at all times while they are in BC!! Answer all Calls!! Yes telemarketers may call but you can hang up on them!! You don't want to risk missing a call from your Recruit! Keep a notepad handy of all the questions you want to ask so you don't forget!
In the meantime while you are waiting through the “Great Silence”, write letters!!! Write all the Letters you can! Take all the raw emotional letters and save them for a BC burning/shredding party at the end of BC and get ready to send positive and encouraging letters. There is a whole file here on letter writing.(https://navyformoms.ning.com/group/bootcampmoms/page/letter-writing...) Read all you can and watch the videos “The Making of a Sailor” videos to get an idea of what your SR’s are going through. (https://youtu.be/pDwLsrmDBF0 & https://youtu.be/7l7a1uigRg4
This whole experience is a huge roller coaster of emotions. We have been where you are now and we know what you are feeling. Just remember you are stronger than you feel… You raised a young Man or Woman who was willing to put duty to country over self. They are strong enough to take on this challenge because they were shown strength from home! You have raised the 1%!! Be proud of that and welcome to the Family!
The other big change is that your SR will call usually after week 8 to say they are a Sailor. They don't always say that but that is how we denote the 3 typical calls (They can earn more.) The big 3 are "I'm Here" - the scripted call that comes in the middle of the night when they arrive at RTC, The "I'm still alive" or "Proof of Life" call --Usually week 3 or 4, and the "I'm a Sailor" call following successful completion of BS21. They then have 2 additional weeks of "Sailorization" training to get them ready for the fleet. This includes Warrior Training as well as some life skills (If you care to share more details I'd love to update the blog with that too.) This is the 2 weeks before PIR. You made it!
I know that if you are reading this you are likely at the beginning of this journey but know you are NOT alone and you are going to get through this!! This whole experience is a huge roller coaster of emotions. We have been where you are now and we know what you are feeling. Just remember you are stronger than you feel… You raised a young Man or Woman who was willing to put duty to country over self. They are strong enough to take on this challenge because they were shown strength from home! You have raised the 1%!! Be proud of that and welcome to the Family!
The Expected timeline will look like this:
Day 0 -- Travel, Arrival and "I'm Here" scripted phone call
Week 1 Day 1-7 -- Arrive Onboard RTC and begin P-days (P-days- Initial Processing Days) including 2 days of P-hold (Weekend)
Day 8 -- Begin training and mail form letter out. Look for it to arrive around 1-2 weeks later (Unless they opted into Sandboxx)
Week 2 -- First week of Training including PT and Swim Qualifications
Week 3 -- Marlin Spike - (Line handling- How to tie up a Ship to the Pier) , First inspections and tests (Dental May be this week or next... Not Confirmed)(Form letter/ Personal letters usually arrive this week)
Week 4 -- Confidence Chamber & Fire Fighting training
Week 5 -- Fire Arms Training
Week 6 -7 -- More training, Drilling (Flags and Marching).
Week 8 – Battle Stations (done prior to final PFA). Your SR will call home to say they are a Sailor but they still have to pass final PFA in order to graduate.
Week 9 & 10– Warrior Training (Life skills) and Final PFA
Aprox 10 Fridays from Departure they will have PIR!! If you can go you will be amazed at the change that happened in just 10 short weeks. RTC is also still Live Streaming the PIR ceremony on Fridays at 9am CST @ https://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/ or afterward on their FB and YouTube pages