Saturday, September 30, 2023

Advice for boot camp

I received a comment as follows: "We have a family friend (one of our sons' buddies) who will be joining the Navy next month. He is a great young man – a solid Christian and very driven in whatever he sets his focus on. I wondered if you might ask your Navy daughter what items she wished she had had or were useful when she went off to boot camp? Or if not practical during basic, what sorts of things would be good for a care box later when he is deployed or in special training? (I believe he is going "nuclear reactor school" to learn how to maintain the power plants on large aircraft carriers and/or subs.) Any feedback would be most appreciated! Best Regards, TimfromOhio"

The photo above is a screenshot from Younger Daughter's boot camp graduation in 2017. I also put up a blog post about the things recruits were restricted to bringing when going to boot camp (here).

Anyway, I sent the query from "TimfromOhio" to Younger Daughter, and this is her response:

"Don't send anything while he's in boot camp, except letters – care packages will get him in trouble. He'll be in school for a long time, so he won't really need much since he'll be at a shore command, but nice socks are always a plus, homemade snacks, etc. I'd say maybe a nice boot camp graduation gift like a watch or a wallet, something small that he can take with him while he travels."

Oh, and I remember Younger Daughter saying when she got her penicillin shot in boot camp, she spent some time scooting around on her rear end, sort of rubbing it in. Apparently it's a lot more painful if you don't do this. (Further advice along these lines can be found online at various forums, apparently.)

Hope this helps!


  1. Exercise. Be able to run a mile and a half in 14 minute, pushups, chinups and situps. Begin getting up every morning at 5 AM and going to bed at 10 PM. Expect to be asked/told to do things that make no sense and prepare to do these things eagerly and to your best ability. Embrace the difficulties and keep doing your best. Most important is help your fellow recruits, you are a team, work as a team. Make friends and find a way to work well with anyone who doesn't embrace these ideals. Listen, remember, practice what your drill instructors are teaching you. Enjoy it, it is an awesome experience.

  2. Don't be surprised if he doesn't pass reactor school - LOTS of people don't; I've heard it has a 80% failure rate.

  3. And if he's just going to put in his 4 to 5 years remember there's a light at the end of the tunnel (like getting through high school) and he'll be able to look forwatd to the gov't paying for his trade school education and a VA home loan.

  4. Went to Navy boot camp long ago, pre internet days. Get in shape, run three miles non stop, do some body weight exercises - pushups/pullups before you go to boot camp. All I brought to boot camp was myself and a wallet, personal items were not allowed. I was not a nuke, but when you get to nuke school know that is about a 18-24 month course of study. You need to keep your nose to the grindstone for that long to succeed. Study your lessons after class with students that take it serious. If they are into too much time with video games/texting/drinking, find better classmates to study with. If you fall behind in school and the instructors offer some sort of after class tutoring, etc., take advantage of that. You will regret not taking this stuff serious later in life if you fail due to lack of self discipline. Can be much
    "hurry up and wait in the military". Know that is part of the system and just laugh it off and keep going.
    DO NOT GET IN WITH THE PARTYERS/DRINKERS/VIDEO GAME CROWD! They will be a huge time suck and you will regret it! Yes, you need down time and relaxation, but you must keep nose to the grindstone for about two years.
    For a contemporary inspiration, look up Lieutenant Amanda Lee, presently flying with the Blue Angels. She is an inspiration and model of success, I'd think it took her at least a decade to get where she is, her foot on the gas pedal the whole time. Quote from JFK:
    Especially the sentence that begins "I can imagine a no more rewarding career".
    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right?
    I hope we hear about your journey via this blog in the
    next couple of years!! Please God!!
    P.S. Caroline Kennedy had the honor to christen two aircraft carriers named after her father:

  5. Boot Camp, stay as invisible as possible. Keep your political and such opinions to yourself.

    In the current "Service" there are plenty of social warrior pitfalls to impale yourself upon.

    If you fail reactor school (big fail rate before "social correctness errors included) you WILL be Assigned according to the NEEDS of the Navy.

    Survive the political correctness with your mouth shut. Then enjoy the nearly free tech schooling later.

    It pains me to say this as a retired Army medic. I'd NOT encourage my kids to join the "Woke" military and PAY for their Technical College myself.

    1. I agree with this. I did 8 years in the Army and times have definitely changed. I persuaded younger family members NOT to join the new military. Forced gene-therapy shots are only one part of the equation, add in the cultural Marxism & rainbow nonsense. No thanks! Chances are, they’ll be sent away to “defend” other countries’ borders anyway (feeding the military industrial behemoth), like I was sent to Afghanistan... our senior leaders are not trustworthy and our country has lost all semblance of reason or morality.

    2. Sadly I can't disagree with what you said. But I will say the advice for those who choose to join is still valid. Get in shape before you join. commit to it or as we use to say be gung ho. Do your best, keep a good attitude and get the most out of your military service. I found it very rewarding and made a lot of good friends. Embrace it.

  6. I was in boot camp back in 84. I was a Nuke but took advantage of getting my rate (electricians mate) and opting to go to the fleet before heading to Nuke school. I didn't like the odds of failure. On a separate note, my best friend did go to Nuke school and eventually failed his last oral board by one question. He was washed out, his record expunged of all training and he owed them two more years because of early advancement. I got out in 4 years as a E-5 and he got out in 6 years as an E-5.
    I agree, stay invisible for as long as possible, the nail that sticks up tends to get hammered. Eyes open and mouth shut will serve him well until he gets out of boot. Best of led me to where I am now with no regrets.

  7. Thank you all for the interesting insights.

  8. Thanks very much for all of the replies and good advice. Much appreciated! Best Regards to all of you, TimfromOhio