A Guide to Navy Boot Camp for Families

When a child decides to join the Navy, you may feel like you’ve been drafted into military service yourself as you strive to support your offspring. Navy boot camp will be your first taste of military life from a parenting perspective as your recruit undergoes the rigorous training necessary to graduate and become a sailor.

Boot Camp Overview

Navy boot camp occurs at Great Lakes, Illinois. New recruits arrive at the Recruit Training Command and spend the first week in processing for medical and administrative screenings. After processing, recruits receive a boot camp assignment and begin the seven-week process of learning to become sailors. Training includes formal classroom instruction, marksmanship, water survival, firefighting and weapons training.


A recruit will send family his mailing address during training week one. Once you receive the mailing address, you can begin writing letters to your recruit. According to Navy Recruit Training Command, recruits generally have time to write letters a few evenings per week. You can send your recruit letters, cards, photos and newspaper clippings, as long as the contents fit into a standard envelope – no stickers or decorations on the outside of envelopes. You should not send care packages because your recruit cannot accept these items. You can expect three telephone calls during boot camp – one in the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end of the training.


It’s possible your recruit will experience difficulties or problems during training. For example, she may fail an academic or physical test, become sick or experience an injury. If training problems occur, your recruit will call to advise family of the situation. The Navy Recruit Training Command recommends not making travel arrangements for the graduation ceremony until your recruit calls your with details for her specific graduation. If you experience an emergency and must contact your recruit, call the American Red Cross, which will contact your recruit on your behalf.


Recruits send graduation information to families by mail. The information packet will include the graduation date and a special password for attendees to provide at the gate pass for admission into the Recruit Training Command. Recruits must list the names of attendees on an access list -- the number of people allowed to attend for each recruit depends on the total number of recruits in the group.

Graduation begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 10:30 a.m. After graduation, sailors receive daytime liberty, but they must remain within 50 miles of the Recruit Training Command. Sailors must report to continuing education after graduation, with the time and location depending on each individual sailor’s orders.