Navy training will test recruits to see if they have what it takes to become a United States Sailor. But before your recruit makes it to graduation there are a lot of tasks they must accomplish. Here’s a general overview of the process joining the Navy and the events that take place at RTC Great Lakes during the first few days.
Your recruit’s Navy experience will begin at MEPS. A recruit is poked, prodded, tested, and questioned until he or she is pronounced fit for the US Navy and is presented with a contract. There are two important things about the MEPS visit that parents and spouses need to know. Recruits can have an advisor with them to help read the contract.
Families can also be present at the swearing in ceremony. This moving event marks the official moment of membership in the United States Navy. Although photography is not allowed during the oath, most MEPS’s will give time after the ceremony for ‘staged’ pictures to be taken. Note that the time of the swearing in is never in stone. If your family decides to attend, prepare for a long wait.
The Flight to Chicago
After swearing in, your recruit will be given an airline ticket, and taken by van to the airport. Most people do not know that immediate family members of the recruit are allowed to go through security and wait at the gate until departure. To get a pass, ask at the ticket counter of the airline your recruit is flying. You’ll need a form of photo identification.
The Trip to Great Lakes
When a recruit lands at Chicago O’Hare, he or she must find the USO. From there, they are taken on a bus to RTC Great Lakes. Note that recruits who have cell phones can call home from Chicago, but the call should be made before arriving at the USO.
Navy Boot Camp First Phone Call
At RTC Great Lakes, all recruits are allowed a ten-second call to let their family know they have arrived. Recruits that still have a cell phone make the call from their personal phone; others use telephones provided by the Navy.
The conversation will go something like this: “Hi. I’m here. Bye.” At this point, communication virtually stops for several weeks.
Getting Your Recruit’s Address
As soon as recruits are assigned a division, they have an address. In the past, family members could contact the Public Affairs Office at Great Lakes and be given the address. Now, a family must either call the recruiter for the address, wait for the recruit to send it home in ‘the form letter’, or view the mailing address here.
Before the form letter arrives, the family will receive a box with all the clothes and personal effects of the recruit. There may also be airline boarding passes, labels torn from new clothing, or paperwork from the Navy. The box is delivered by Fed-Ex, and is addressed in the recruit’s handwriting. For many, receiving the box is an unexpectedly emotional moment.
Navy Boot Camp Form Letter
About one week into boot camp, the family will receive a form letter from the recruit. The envelope will be addressed in the recruit’s handwriting. The letter will thank you for supporting your recruit, give a general overview of boot camp, emergency instructions, and a preliminary invitation to Graduation Pass-In-Review. The letter is signed by the Commanding Officer at Recruit Training Command. On the second page, your recruit will write his or her division, and you’ll officially have the boot camp address. At the very end of the letter are three lines on which your recruit can write a personal message.
Navy Boot Camp Mail
Recruits are only supposed to write home on Sunday, and that’s when letters get mailed. Depending on where you live, you can pretty much count on a letter on the same day of the week if your recruit writes. If you ask, many letter carriers will ring the doorbell or blow their horn as they deliver a missive from RTC. You can get mail to your recruit faster by using the Sandboxx app. Learn more about sending Letters to navy boot camp.
Calling Home From Navy Boot Camp
Since you can’t always be at home, it is recommended that you enable call forwarding. At some point in the first few weeks, probably when you least expect it, your recruit will call home. He or she will most likely sound tired, sick, and depressed. The call may be so long that you may have trouble thinking of enough to talk about. Make a list of questions to ask your recruit so that if the conversation lags, you’ll have something to say.
If your recruit doesn’t have one, it’s not too late to send a Phone Card! Note that most phone cards have connection fees – minutes are deducted from the face value of the card each time a call is made. This means that a 100 minute card could lose 50 minutes just for leaving a message on an answering machine! If you’re worried this may happen to your recruit, send them another card.
Details via Helen151 on Questions.com
Allen B. says
Out of curiosity, would anyone happen to know the best cellphone type and plan for international calling for my daughter who is in the Navy? She will be on ship duty quite a lot.
Susana Cervantes says
anyone has the link for the form we have to fill out for the people is attending the graduation?
John Ash says
Can you visit recruits on Thanks Giving?
David cosio says
Today my daughter shipped out I have been a single dad to her for past 14 yrs an being at home with her is hard. I was in the navy as well an know the first few nights are the hardest for them I look forward to our first call tonight an know she will not sound the same. Hope we made the best decision
My daughter left in may no call nor box . What do I do ? I seen her board the plane in Texas no communication since 😢😭🥺
Teri Carrillo says
Hi! Our son left on 6/27, we’ve sent a few sandboxx letters but so far haven’t received anything. I know they don’t get mail until Sundays, but I just read that we’re supposed to get something from the commanding officer that has his address so we can actually write. Know anything about that? Also, are we supposed to send a gift card so he can call or go to the exchange?
My son is there too and I just received his last call. The sound of his voice hurt my heart. I can only assume that the hard stuff has started.
I raised him and his 2 sisters on my own without a Father figure. He has been a blessing. Genuinely good hearted. He missed out on the strong male influence. I believed 100% that this is what he needed until now. I pray I made the right decision too.
carolyn mulderig says
My son arrived on the 27th, the phone call was rough emotionally. Perhaps they are in the same group. I wish your son well. Stay strong
Randy Mason says
Joy D, you can do this. Basic training is a challenge, but it WILL ,be over. You will look back and say I did it, and you will be a stronger young woman. Love you Grand Pa.
Jean Mason says
Joy Holmes’s Grandmother; Joy, Basic Training is new and different for you. Be Strong and Praying. Concentrate on achieving your Goal!!❤️
Rhonda Jones says
My daughter just arrived at RTC Great Lakes. I received the call at 2:12am and while she told me what she could say, I was not prepared to hear the emotion in her voice. I am so very proud of her. Yeah…. Hostage Situation vibes in the phone call are the best description of the call. I’ll be strong during this time, as I know she will be. Does weeping periodically mean I’m not being strong???? LOL. I had a headache and thought, “If Joy has a headache, she cant take anything”, so I pushed through it.
God will continue to order your path and protect your steps, SR Holmes, Joy
…You are loved and will champion this experience as you build your extended family with the Navy
Raymond Jackson says
Indeed, sending strength, love and prayers to you all.
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Dawn L McWhorter says
This is a military communication site for family to be able to communicate with Thier military families that are in the military, not a sob story or love connection site. Really!!
Brett Hinsley says
Our son left Jan. 4th. We received the call at 11:38pm from his cell. He must have accidentally muted on his end because I didn’t hear a word. 😞Really sucked! I hope we have better luck next time, I don’t know if his mom with survive if not. 😂
Fabiola Oliveros says
Our son left to Great Lakes on that date too! Praying for all of them!
Beatriz Colon says
My daughter left to Great Lakes she arrived on December 13th. I did receive the one letter about the graduation date, BUT I have not received any other letters from her and I have not received a FEDEX box with her personal belongings. She told me she’s written to me and I have written to her too before using Sandboxx and mailed out my letters by USPS. So far I have received three phone calls from my daughter, the first one when she arrived at bootcamp, then on 12/24 and on 12/31. I am so anxiously waiting to receive a letter(s) from her and check my mail every day and nothing. This makes me so sad. She sounds very stressed out on the phone and has cried when speaking with her. I signed up for Sandboxx and have sent her three letters using the app, but I don’t know if she has received my letters. How will I know when she gets them? Do I receive a tracking number? Thank you. Beatriz Colon
They get to call home now? We didn’t in the late 70’s. Letters only. You mailed the Form Letter and later got mail privileges. No crying to mom and dad, and looking back honestly it was better that way for us. You kids are going to be fine. Loved my time in Naval Aviation.
Deidre Gill says
I was told we would only be able to send letters I didnt know to send a phone card with him can I send him one once i get his address
Ginger Blaz says
Same. The call was a shock for me. He told me he would get one last call so I expected to be able to ask him some questions but he said what he said then hung up. It felt so sad and final. When he was 3 he took his first trip out of state without me. I cried every day he was gone. I haven’t cried daily this time, but it doesn’t feel much better. He has been working seasonally in tourist areas before this but I could still message or call him when he was off. Not knowing anything or getting to hear from him is the hard part of all this. But I also know its probably for the best. I don’t think I could handle it if he called home sad, upset, crying or expressing any of the range of emotions I am sure he is going through.
Karen Maples says
Hi Ginger, I’m Karen, and I feel the exact same way. I’m so proud & happy for my son’s new path, but not being able to communicate is going to be very hard & sad..
My sister showed me this thread & while I’m not a social media person, no Facebook, I’ll at least try to keep up with all of you parents out there. It helps to know I’m not alone in just missing my kid & wondering when will I get to hear him.♥️
Jeannette Giannini says
Same here. We take so much for granted when we can call them on a cell. Even if my son doesn’t pick up my calls mostly.. usuallly. 😊 or see him ir hear him come home after Door dashing. A call aaking me if I had dinner for him💔
Tiffany Scaife says
I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes right now waiting for “The Call” I’m so glad I read these comments because I had no clue. Soon as she calls….
Me: “I LOVE YOU JAYMIE!”
Jeannette Giannini says
Agreed. If my son gets depressed Im going to not sleep until his graduation.
Jeanette, my son left 12 days ago. We got the 15 second call but have not heard a word since. Looking at the date you posted this, made me think your son just started boot camp when mine did.
My daughter left on December 15 and I have not heard from her. I did not get that one phone call letting me know she made it there 😭. I received the letter from the Navy about her graduation but the envelope didn’t have her handwriting. Everyday I pray to hear her voice. Today makes 2 weeks. I just don’t understand why I have not heard from her. I did send her a letter thru Sandboxx I pray she gets it. Has everyone else experienced this? Praying and trusting God is the only thing keeping me together. Pray for me as I continue to pray for you. #OneSadNavyMom
“I love you SR Debnam,Christina ♥️
Sigh. I watched a million YouTube videos with my Son before he shipped off. I knew what the call would be like and I still had a hard time dealing with my emotions. Felt like I threw my child to a pack of wolves. I’m still very proud of him and am grateful for this information. I read something about boot camp every night. I pray for each future sailor and all the families who support them.
Oscar Villasenor says
Thank you for all your info! You guys made me feel a little better,I was wondering why his call was so short and sounded like he was reading from a paper but honestly your info made me feel much better, I can stop crying now.
Lol just got the same call today I was wondering why it sounded like a hostage situation lol 😂
Lol! I needed this laugh. Got the call, too.
Brenda Torres says
I got the same call. It didn’t even sound like my daughter. I didn’t even get to speak & then she just hung up.
I just got “the call” you are exactly right.
B gallegos says
How many days until the first call?
Jeannette Giannini says
I know right?! I got that call 12/15/21. And i heard a very, very loud man say WRAP IT UP😳
Hostage sitch vibes!
And I’m currently waiting on the call , feels like it will never come
Same here I can’t stop crying 😭. I don’t understand what’s going to happen when they are able to call home again? Is that call going to be from there cell phone or from a pay phone why do we have to send them cards? By the way my son jus my arrived at boot camp on Sep 15 and he is doing quarantine.
Jenn Reagan says
I wish I had researched more to know about the call. I completely lost it afterwards. I feel everything being said by every parent in here! It’s been 20 yrs since I joined the Army, now I know how my mother felt. I know we’re all gonna make it, but it sure doesn’t feel like it right now!
Eugene Gardner, CW5 (Ret) says
Thank you United States Navy and Naval Station / RTC Great Lakes for your continued dedicated service to our nation and training all these fantastic naval candidates to become sailors in the “Best Navy in the World” So proud of our Son choose Navy for his military career and thank you for given him the opportunity. Many Blessing and keep up the good work and the Adventure
CW5 (Ret) Eugene Gardner
Hi, looking forward to more info! Thank you
Susan McCarthy says