Great Lakes Navy

How Long Is Navy Boot Camp

So you’ve decided to join the Navy and head off to Navy Great Lakes. As you get closer to your ship date, you may be wondering what the food tastes like and what the days will be like for you. You might even be pondering whether you’ll be able to text your friends and family while you’re at Navy boot camp Great Lakes.

While we aren’t able to get you a rundown on Wednesday’s lunch special, we can tell you the things you need to know before you make your way to becoming a Sailor.

How Long is Navy Boot Camp?

Navy boot camp consists of eight weeks of training on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The first couple of days are filled with learning the basics of being in the military like standing at attention, reciting your general orders and learning proper military dress. The days are incredibly long, and at times sleep is minimal. You’ll get assigned to a division of about 80 men and women and finish the rest of your training with the assigned division.

During training after you have gone through the initial Navy processing days (p days), each week focuses on a different aspect of what it takes to become a Navy sailor. The first week is the most intensive for physical conditioning. There will be introductions to marching, rank symbolizing and recognition and education on equal opportunity, rape awareness, sexual harassment, and the Navy core values.

In week five and six, you’ll execute the basics in damage control and firefighting, and you’ll enter the gas chamber (side note: make sure you eat light on gas chamber day.)

At the culmination of the eight weeks, you’ll walk out of Navy boot camp standing tall and proud of all you accomplished.

How Do I Prepare for Navy Boot Camp?

Boot camp requires the development of high mental and physical strength. Not only do you have to be able to pass the Initial Navy Fitness Assessment (IFA), but you must also be able to retain and recite your eleven general orders and the Sailor’s creed.

To increase your physical endurance and strength to score well on the IFA, start doing some timed runs each week leading up to boot camp and mix in some push-ups and sit-ups into your routine. Part of being a great Sailor is holding yourself accountable and to high standards of excellence. Be honest with yourself about where you are in your fitness.

If you don’t exercise and practice regularly, you will struggle, and it will be more difficult for you to pass the IFA so get out there and hit the pavement!

Read more about the physical requirements of Navy boot camp.

Increasing your mental strength requires obtaining knowledge and reading your Bluejacket Manual on the daily is a great way to get started. Your recruiter should have one you can borrow or be able to issue you one before you ship out to Great Lakes. Some things you want to remember are your general orders, the core values of the Navy, and the Sailor’s Creed. You will be asked and often tested on these during your time in Navy Boot Camp.

Read more about what you need to learn before Navy boot camp.

When is Graduation?

Navy boot camp graduation happens on the last day of your eight-week training from Navy Boot Camp. For you to graduate, you must complete all physical training requirements such as the minimum number of push-ups, sit-ups and running a mile and a half in the maximum time allowed. You must also pass Battle Stations, a 12-hour hands-on exercise involving everything you learned about swimming survival, damage control, teamwork and more. Once you complete Battle Station, you will be given your Navy hat which signals you are now a Sailor.

Do You Get Paid During Boot Camp?

Once you take your oath at MEPS, you’re in the military which means you get paid. But there is a catch; you have to go through the intake process of the first couple days of boot camp, and once the military establishes your pay records, you’ll see money in your checking account. Payday in the military happens on the 1st and 15th of each month.

Do I Get Mail During Boot Camp?

Mail is something everyone looks forward to especially when you’re in military basic training. Within the first week of arriving at Navy boot camp, you’ll be given an address card to send home to your family so they can send you letters. Since Great Lakes is a huge place housing thousands of recruits, you’ll have a specific address for your ship.

It may take a little longer to receive mail this way but if you’re looking to have mail from your friends and family come faster, have them download the Sandboxx app. They can write a message to you with a photo and once they hit send, our team will Fedex Overnight the letters pre-sorted by individual ship, speeding up the time even more between you and your loved ones.

As always, we are here to help you in any way possible especially when it comes to having family members sending you letters while you’re in training.


  1. Wow! what a great site with so much information for parents and families. I do wish I knew about this site 2 days ago before my son left for boot camp.

  2. Have liberty rules changed as of today for those sailors staying in great lakes? heard on Facebook that those staying in great lakes can have overnight stays with family this weekend.

    1. Hi, Laura. As far as Sandboxx is aware, recruits are not allowed to have overnight stays with the family during boot camp. Please reach out to your recruit’s recruiter for more accurate verification.

  3. Company 188 1984 summer at Great Lakes. Chief Vader and can’t remember the other 1st class, but can see his face still. Wish I had gone active instead of the reserves….big waste of time in those days…do nothing drills and frustrated…I got out within 3 years and a lot of hassles for complaining about doing nothing all the time. Today I hope it’s better for these young kids. I passed up a great opportunity not just jumping in full steam ahead! Best wishes to those looking for answers! Be patient and do as your told! My dad did 32 years E9 retired.

  4. My son is Ship 02 Div 923 went in on Feb 11 but didn’t arrive unti 2/12 because of weather in Chicago. What is his graduation date? Thank you.

    1. Hi, Avis. We recommend contacting your Seaman Recruit’s recruiter for more detailed information about this. Thanks for letting us be a part of your military journey.

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