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Navy Boot Camp

Navy recruits march at Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, IL

What Is Navy Boot Camp Like?

Recruit Training Command, better known as “Navy boot camp” is the Navy’s only enlisted training facility. Located in Great Lakes, IL, once you're here, you’ll learn all the skills you need to transform from civilian to Sailor. For 10 weeks, you’ll be completely immersed in Navy culture, tradition and heritage with fellow recruits from around the country. All of the training you receive will create a strong foundation for your future in the Navy and set you up for success no matter the career you’ve chosen.


What To Expect

Navy boot camp lasts 10 weeks. The first two weeks of training are the most challenging because you’ll be shifting your perspective from civilian to Sailor and training for several hours each day. These two weeks are also your first chance to learn how a Navy team operates and meet your fellow Sailors who will be there to support you throughout your journey. Training is physically, emotionally and academically challenging, but you’ll graduate as a stronger version of yourself.

Navy Sailors recite a cadence while marching at Recruit Training Command, or Navy Boot Camp, in Great Lakes, IL.

Navy Officers, including Physicians, Chaplains and Nurses do not go to boot camp; instead they may go to Officer Development School (ODS) or Officer Training School (OCS). Find out more about joining the Navy as an Officer.

Week 1: Processing

The first week of boot camp is known as Processing. On your first night, you will be able to make a phone call to your family or guardians before turning in your device for the duration of training. Immediately upon arrival, you are assigned to a division. You’ll receive a full medical, dental and fitness screening. Women will receive a pregnancy test, and all recruits will be subject to a drug urine screening once they are on-site. Women who are pregnant will not be able to continue at boot camp, and anyone who fails to pass the drug screening will be disqualified immediately.

Navy Recruits Learn How to March at Recruit Training Command, or Navy Boot Camp, in Great Lakes, IL

You’ll receive your uniforms, vaccinations and a haircut to help you meet Navy standards. You can arrive with your hair styled as desired, but men will have their hair cut and women will have the option to cut their hair OR keep the length and learn how to style it according to Navy standards.

During this week, you’ll also meet your Recruit Division Commander, who will be your leader and guide for the next 10 weeks. You’ll be assigned a bunk on your “ship” (barracks), attend an orientation brief, learn how to drill and march, and attend Navy classes. This is the week where you’ll learn the basics of basic training.

Weeks 2 - 3: Introduction

These weeks will be your introduction to Navy life. You’ll begin attending classes and your physical fitness training. During this time, you must pass a swim test, which is standard for all Sailors. If you cannot swim, you will receive training in a safe, monitored and controlled environment taught by Water Survival Instructors. 

Navy Recruits participate in a swim test at Recruit Training Command, or Navy Boot Camp, in Great Lakes, IL.

During this week, you’ll take classes in:

  • Naval history
  • General military customs and courtesies
  • General military and professional knowledge classes
  • Personnel and material inspections
  • Watch standing
  • Physical training

You’ll get your first taste of Navy teamwork by participating with fellow shipmates in a simulation of a shipboard emergency during which each Sailor will have a role to play.

Weeks 4 - 6: Hands-On

Once you’ve mastered the classroom basics, you’ll move to hands-on Navy training. You’ll continue your knowledge classes but also begin to train with actual equipment.

You’ll learn the foundations of the following:

  • Knot tying and line handling
  • Firefighting training and first-aid techniques
  • Drill
  • Firearms training
  • Second academic test
  • Physical training
Navy Boot Camp firefighting gear is lined up before fire prevention training at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL.


Week 7: Evaluation

Recruits will use all of their knowledge gained from the first few weeks to complete various assessments and inspections, including:

  • Drill
  • Personnel and uniform inspections
  • Physical training
  • Firefighting assessment
  • Line handling assessment
  • Weapons assessment
Navy Recruits participate in physical fitness training at Recruit Training Command, or Navy Boot Camp, in Great Lakes, IL.


Week 8: Battle Stations

Weeks of training are put to the test during the final training exercise, known as Battle Stations. Using the latest technology, recruits are tested in a variety of shipboard scenarios that require the sum of their knowledge and ability. Battle Stations is a final test to determine if the new recruit is ready to join the fleet.

Navy Recruits are trained in marksmanship and weapon safety at Recruit Training Command, or Navy Boot Camp, in Great Lakes, IL.

When Battle Stations is successfully completed, recruits celebrate the first major milestone of Navy service. During a ceremony befitting their accomplishment, they will remove their recruit ball caps and replace them with one that recognizes them as a Sailor.

Week 9: Junior Sailor

Your last two weeks of boot camp will prepare you for your next stop: A School. During week nine, you can expect to continue and pass classes in:

  • Physical training and final preparation for the official Physical Readiness Test
  • Professional development classes
  • Small unit leadership classes
  • Fleet and shipboard living classes

Week 10 : Graduation

Recruit graduation is known as Pass-In-Review. It is a formal military ceremony that honors your hard work and dedication to a new way of life. It also ties together the future of the Navy with our long-held Naval traditions and customs. This is your opportunity to impress your family and friends with what you have accomplished in just 10 weeks!

Navy Boot Camp graduates stand at attention as they attend graduation at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL.

Your family will be seated in the drill hall, and you’ll march in with about 800 of your new Shipmates to a sea of applause. There is no prouder moment in your life. You may receive a few days off following the ceremony, or you may be transferred to your next duty station shortly after graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I bring to boot camp?

There are limitations to what you can bring to boot camp. Once you graduate, you’ll be able to access the items you may have missed during the 10 weeks of training. Everything you bring that is not allowed will either be donated, discarded or mailed back home.

All recruits must bring:

  • Social security card.
  • Immunization records.
  • Two forms of valid identification; speak to a recruiter for more information on qualifying identification needs.

Personal items you may bring include:

  • The clothes you arrive in.
  • Personal running shoes that must be tasteful in color and appearance while in uniform. Must have laces, no Velcro or speed lacing. All footwear is inspected upon arrival. You will be given shoes if yours do not meet RTC standards.
  • One pair of prescription glasses or reading glasses. Recruits are not allowed to wear contacts.
  • Maximum of $10 cash, a credit card (not required) and one pre-paid calling card ($20).
  • Cell phone for first call. This will be collected after your first night.
  • Completed direct deposit sign-up (Standard Form 1199A).
  • Checkbook and/or ATM card.
  • All prescription drugs with identifying labels. This includes any birth control.
  • Pocket-sized religious reading material.

Female-specific personal items allowed:

  • Makeup (makeup is only permitted for photographs and graduation liberty). No glass items, including mirrors, are permitted.
  • A week’s worth of sanitary items (tampons, pads, menstrual cups), as required. More will be accessible if needed.
  • All birth control medications (pills, patches, rings) may be continued as well as IUDs and sub-dermal implants (e.g. Nexplanon).
  • Bring your most recent Pap smear laboratory report if it was performed within three years prior to arriving at RTC. Recruits over 21 who do not provide paperwork will be required to undergo a Pap smear examination once at boot camp.

What are the physical requirements of boot camp?

Your physical training will be both rigorous and challenging and includes one-hour daily workouts, six days a week. To graduate, you must pass a Physical Readiness Test (PRT).

Before you can begin basic training, you must participate in a Physical Readiness Test and meet the following standards:

AgeGenderPush-Ups (in two minutes)Planks1.5-Mile Run
17-19Male462 x 30 sec.12:15
17-19Female202 x 30 sec.14:45
20-24Male422 x 30 sec.13:15
20-24Female172 x 30 sec.15:15

What happens after boot camp?

After boot camp, you’ll be sent to your first duty station or to A School, depending on what job you selected. A School is a program designed to train you for your specific role; each community in the Navy has its own A School. You’ll be placed with other new Sailors from your specific job and train alongside them with experts in your field. The time you spend at A School is determined by the job you have and is dependent on your success in the program. Once you graduate A School, you may complete additional training at C School or you may receive orders to report to your first duty station.

How do I prepare for boot camp?

The best way to prepare for boot camp is to work with your recruiter to become physically and mentally ready to become a Sailor while you’re waiting to ship out. There are a few things you can do ahead of time to set yourself up for success.

  1. Read the Bluejacket’s Manual: You’ll receive a copy of this book when you enlist as a Sailor. Reading it before leaving for boot camp will ensure you’re prepared for your journey in the Navy.
  2. Learn the Navy rank structure: You will need to learn the chain of command at boot camp and be expected to recite it. Start learning about the Navy rank structure by reading the Bluejacket’s Manual.
  3. Memorize the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment: Each of the Navy’s core values are important to how we operate. You must learn them and what they mean at boot camp. You can read more about them in the Bluejacket’s Manual.
  4. Learn the 11 General Orders of a Sentry: You will be expected to learn and recite the general orders while you’re at boot camp. Refer to your Bluejacket’s Manual for more information.
  5. Prepare yourself physically: Your recruiter should help you prepare to leave for boot camp by giving you information about how to train yourself to pass the physical readiness exam. Refer to the “physical requirements” accordion above to find out what is expected of every recruit.

Do I need to know how to swim?

No, you do not need to know how to swim when you arrive at boot camp; however, to graduate, every recruit must pass a swim test. If you need to learn, we will teach you how to swim in a basic swim class taught by highly qualified instructors to make sure you are comfortable in the water and that you’ll be able to graduate with the skills you need in the Fleet. Our instructors are certified experts in swim instruction, in-water rescue, lifeguarding and CPR.

Your training will ensure you can stay afloat without the use of a personal floatation device in open water. This includes swimming 50 yards and completing a five-minute prone float and clothing inflation. The final exam includes:

  1. Jumping off a platform and swimming
  2. Treading water
  3. Flotation

Where do I live at boot camp?

You will live in a barracks called a "ship" and each is named after an important ship in naval history. Each state-of-the-art ship can house up to 1,300 recruits and contains multiple berthing areas, a galley and classrooms. Each climate-controlled ship is designed for maximum quality of life.

Your berthing compartment (sleeping quarters) houses your entire division. Male-female integrated divisions are housed in single-gender compartments but come together for training. It is where you sleep, shower, dress, iron your uniform and polish your shoes. It is also where your RDC instructs you on proper folding and stowing techniques, passes out vital information and hands out letters from home. You will be inspected, stand watch, PT and practice marching in this space. You will be responsible for cleaning every square inch of it (all 350,000 of them). This is your home for the next several weeks.