So, What is Boot Camp All About?
Are you considering entering the military after high school? Before you can call yourself a member of one of the five branches, you have to go through basic training. Often referred to as “boot camp,” this process can last anywhere from six to 12 weeks. Take a look at this helpful information that may shed light on the question of what boot camp is and guide you on your way to serving your country.
How do I know what branch to enlist in?
There are five branches of the U.S. military. They are the Army, Navy, AirForce, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Each branch accomplishes different things. For example, the Navy defends the country on water, whereas the Air Force specializes in combat aboard aircraft.
Each military branch has challenging basic training programs designed to turn civilians into soldiers. Officials make sure each component tests you physically and mentally. Recruits complete a series of physical tests(PTs) and obstacle courses throughout their training. The tests prepare the body physically, and the obstacle courses build teamwork. Each branch also gives recruits instruction in marksmanship and offers courses such as stress management, fraternization and military civil rights. If you think you can avoid midterm or final exams by entering the military, you’re mistaken.
What happens during boot camp?
All basic training programs teach you to do what you’re told, when you’re told and how you’re told—without complaint. During basic training, you’ll have little free time because the military occupies a majority of your day (from 4:45 a.m. to around 9 or 10 p.m.)
During boot camp, the military forces you to give up the luxuries you may be used to so you can focus 110 percent on your training.
Take it from me
Spc. Melissa Baker,20, went through nine weeks of Army basic training in Fort Jackson,S.C. She says, “You can push yourself through it physically. Completing basic training is not an unachievable feat.”
Baker admits to being scared initially. “I didn’t know what to expect at first. The images from ‘Full Metal Jacket’ kept running through my mind. I thought it would be impossible.”
Baker says she took away a lot from her experiences at “boot camp.” “The best part of the whole process is that it builds teamwork,” she says. “You make each other better.”
Spc. Nathan Armstrong also went through nine weeks of Army basic training in Fort Jackson,S.C. When he entered basic training, he was a 17-year-old who wanted his “own set of rules and to see the world. My recruiter told me exactly what to expect,” he says.
Once Armstrong arrived at Fort Jackson, he went through processing, which is known as “reception”in the Army—a period he found to be fairly laid back. However, that lull didn’t last for long. Armstrong and his fellow recruits soon became immersed in training. He learned marksmanship, completed obstacle courses, and made a lot of friends in the process.
He put those skills to use during three weeks in Kuwait and seven months in Iraq. He was only 10 miles away from Baghdad in 2003 when the statue of Saddam Hussein fell.
For those of you who are apprehensive about boot camp, Armstrong has this advice: “Don’t worry. Go with good intentions and experience it for what it’s worth,” he says.
Also, don’t stand out in a crowd. “If the drill sergeants know you, they’re going to pick on you.”
In addition to helping you mature, Armstrong says the military “teaches you responsibility for yourself.”
Basic Training Preparation Tips:
If you smoke or use tobacco, quit!
Follow the list from your recruiter of what to/not to bring.
Memorize ranks and core values of the branch.
Get in shape by running and doing situps and pushups.
Certain branches require skills in swimming.
Don’t stand out physically upon arrival.
Know your Social Security number.
Set up a bank account; payment during basic training is done through direct deposit.
Boot camp is a mind game. It is designed to take the civilian out of you, so don’t feel intimidated.
Stay positive. Remember all the men and women who have gone before you and succeeded.
Leave excuses at the door. Teachers and parents don’t like excuses; military officials dislike them even more. Instead of giving an excuse or explanation, you’re better off saying “Yes, Sir/Ma’am.”
Do what you’re told. Remember, this is not the time or place to make your own rules.
Be determined. Forty percent of those who enlist in the military do not make it through the first four years; many don’t even finish boot camp. Therefore, it’s important to stay focused and determined so you can be part of that 60 percent who do make it!
Serve your country, learn a skill, and earn money for college with a career in the military. There are several options for students who are considering a military service career: the National Guard, several branches and jobs to choose from, even officer training through an ROTC program or a military college.
The best way to find out which military career path is right for you is to talk to a military recruiter in your area. Remember, military careers aren't limited to being a soldier. There are opportunities for doctors, engineers, pilots, computer specialists, communications professionals and more!