Great Lakes Navy

5 Things to Get in Order Prior to Heading to Navy Basic Training

Are you wondering how to prepare for Navy Basic Training?

There’s plenty to do, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you overthink it. Transitioning from civilian life to Sailor life is an exciting time, especially if you prepare well enough to enjoy this new experience.

You’ll have limited time during training to focus on personal matters like bills, childcare, finances, and more, which makes taking care of business now one of your most important tasks.

Before you head off to the Recruit Training Command (RTC), it’s best to get ready as soon as possible.

Don’t leave for the Great Lakes without doing these five things first:

1. Let Your Loved Ones Know Your Plans

When you start planning for your new military life, you may forget to tell some people about it. Don’t let it be a surprise.

Some ways to tell loved ones you’re joining the military:

  • Host a dinner
  • Do a Facebook live
  • Send a group text
  • Call and share the details

Additionally, you’ll want to share the Recruit Training Command (RTC) address. Once you arrive at RTC, your cell phone will be boxed up with other personal belongings and shipped back to where you’d like the items to go. You’ll pay for shipping, by the way.  

Moving forward, this means communication is only available through letters. Once you know your address, be sure to share it with loved ones.

Here’s the proper format for sending recruit letters:

SR LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MI

SHIP XXX DIV XXX

RECRUIT TRAINING COMMAND

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

GREAT LAKES IL 60088-XXXX

Do yourself a favor and let everyone who is important in your life know you’re leaving for basic training. Not only can they send letters of encouragement at basic training, but they will know you haven’t simply dropped off the face of the earth.

Don’t forget to share the Sandboxx app with family and friends so they’ll know how to best reach you once you’ve left for Navy Basic Training.

2. Prep Your Mindset

No matter how mentally resilient you are, know that basic training can challenge you in new ways. There’s something about being physically and emotionally exhausted (plus being yelled at) 24/7 that takes a toll on people. Start prepping now to better handle your responses.

Some ways to build mental resilience:

  • Meditate
  • Work with a personal trainer
  • Guard your thoughts from negativity
  • Look at problems as short term
  • Create a personal mantra

During the tough phases of basic training, consider repeating a personal affirmation, prayer, or positive phrase. This will give you something to mentally focus on when you’re in physical pain or mentally done. You can put this into practice now during intense workouts, arguments, or other challenging situations.  

3. Set Your Finances Straight

Before you board your bus or plane to get to Navy Basic Training, you’ll have a few financial affairs to get in order. If you don’t have a bank account, sign up for one. The Navy will pay you via direct deposit, which means you’ll need an active account before getting paid. Many banks have free accounts or waive fees if you have a certain amount in the account.

Some helpful financial tips:

  • Set bills on autopay
  • Pay off your bills in advance, if able
  • Take a personal finances class
  • Have some savings, if possible
  • Keep your bank information handy (routing and account numbers)

As tempting as it may be to max out your credit cards for the sake of a good time before your Navy life starts, don’t do it. Those credit card bills (and debt collectors) will be waiting for you as soon as you get out of basic training.

What’s more, if you don’t get a good handle on your finances now, the Navy can take over your paychecks to make sure your bills are getting paid once you’re through boot camp. That means you lose the responsibility of managing your money how you want.

4. Get in Shape ASAP

As soon as the idea of becoming a United States Sailor pops into your mind, you should be working out daily. There’s no getting out of having to do push-ups, curl-ups, and running, so start practicing those now.  

Additionally, you won’t have access to caffeine, protein shakes, etc. before exercising in boot camp. Try to wean yourself off of these luxuries long before basic training starts.

Before you even start basic training, you must be able to perform to the physical standards as set below.

Baseline Physical Fitness Assessments (PFA) are as follows:

Male (ages 17-19)

In two minutes:

  • 46 push-ups
  • 54 curl-ups

Male (ages 20-24)  

In two minutes:

  • 42 push-ups
  • 50 curl-ups

Both age groups must be able to complete a 1.5 mile run in 16:10

Female (ages 17-19)

In two minutes:

  • 20 push-ups
  • 54 curl-ups

Female (ages 20-24)

In two minutes:

  • 17 push-ups
  • 50 curl-ups

Both age groups must be able to complete a 1.5 mile run in 18:37

5. Take Care of Personal Business

Once you’ve signed the dotted line with the U.S. Navy, there’s no going back. Signing that contract takes on a whole new meaning of responsibility. There’s no time like now to start taking personal responsibility for your life.

Some other areas you may need to tend to prior to leaving:

  • Children/Pets – Where will your kids or pets go? Plan this well in advance.
  • Vehicle – Who will maintain your vehicle while you’re away?
  • Living arrangements – If you rent or own, who will pay your bills and manage upkeep of the property?

All of the civilian side of life still goes on while you’re in Navy Basic Training. Don’t make the mistake of under-preparing for this part of your military journey.

Prepare for Navy Basic Training Well in Advance

It’s not ideal to wait until a few days before leaving for basic training to do all of the above tasks. Considering it takes time to build up physical stamina, find pet sitters, set up bank accounts, etc., plan to do these tasks a few months in advance. It will make leaving for basic training a whole lot easier.

A few other odds and ends:

  • Know the Sailor’s Creed
  • Understand General Orders
  • Get a good grasp of ranks
  • Find a copy of The Bluejacket’s Manual to study
  • Spend quality time with your friends and family

Basic training will arrive before you know it. Make the most of your time by spending equal parts preparing and enjoying the last few weeks of civilian life.

Prep Now For a Smoother Military Life Transition

As you prepare to head to the RTC Great Lakes, we hope you’ll find this list helpful.

Expect your physical and mental fitness to be challenged, but understand it’s all in order to ultimately make you into a Sailor who can handle time on sea and land well.

The more you prep now, the less you’ll have to worry about while in the middle of basic training. Preparing in advance will give you a chance to fully focus on your studies and experience as a new Sailor while at RTC.

Best of luck on your new journey as a United States Sailor!

What questions do you have about Navy Basic Training? Let us know in the comments below!

2 comments

  1. How much cash or deposit in a bank account with atm access should a Navy recruit bring to bootcamp? What else is needed?

    1. Hi Claudia:
      Since they will start getting paid the 1st and 15th of each month (even during boot camp) going with $100 or so should be plenty.

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