A Guide to Navy Boot Camp for Families

When your son or daughter is accepted as a recruit in the U.S. Navy, your child will go to the Navy's Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois -- the Navy's only boot camp. Over the next two months, you can generally expect limited contact with your child -- now referred to by the Navy as "your recruit" -- primarily by regular mail. On graduation day, you'll experience the pleasure and excitement of watching your recruit Pass-In-Review in a ceremony honoring the completion of boot camp with naval traditions and customs.

Recruit Departure to Great Lakes

    On the date your recruit is assigned to depart for Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, your recruit must report to the local recruiting office. At that point, your recruit is in the care of the Navy and all required travel arrangements are handled by the Navy, such as airline or train travel and, if necessary, hotel accommodations. In most cases, your recruit will be travelling with other recruits from the same general area. You can expect a brief, late-night phone call from your recruit upon arrival at RTC to let you know he or she is there.

P-Days and Training

    During the first week at RTC, your recruit will go through "P-Days" -- processing days -- that include additional medical and administrative screening as well as being issued uniforms. As part of the P-Days, your recruit will send a letter to you from the RTC Commanding Officer with important information, such as your recruit's official address, graduation date, the names of the persons invited to attend the graduation ceremony and a password to obtain a vehicle gate pass to RTC on graduation day. P-Days end with a ceremony during which your recruit's training division is assigned its guidon -- that is, divisional flag -- and training officially begins.

Contacting Recruits

    Communicating to your recruit during training is essentially limited to letter writing. You can send letters to your recruit as often as you want, but your recruit will have a limited time to respond, usually once a week, due to training schedule requirements. Do not send any "care packages." You can only send items that fit in a standard size envelope. Your recruit is allowed two phone calls during training -- one at the mid-point and another on completion of the final training requirement called "Battle Stations-21." However, you will not know with certainty when these calls may be made. If your recruit's training is interrupted due to injury, illness or failing a training requirement, your recruit can call you.


    The RTC website provides current information for upcoming graduations. You can look up specific information for your recruit's graduation by the date and division number given to you in the informational letter from the RTC Commanding Officer. The website also allows you to download a vehicle gate pass using the password provided in the letter. For friends and extended family members unable to attend the graduation, the website also provides a link and information on how to view a live-stream of the graduation online.

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