8 Tips for Completing Basic Training Successfully

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Future Marines see what boot camp is like
Future Marines from Marine Corps Recruiting Station Fort Worth get a taste of what recruit training will be like during the station’s annual pool function, April 27-28, 2019. (Sgt. Danielle Rodrigues/U.S. Marines)

Before you go to boot camp, be sure you have taken care of the everyday issues in your life. Check with your recruiter if you have questions or are unsure about how to handle any of the following matters:

  • Who will receive your mail?
  • Does your family have access to your finances? Bank accounts, etc.?
  • How will your bills be paid while you are gone?
  • Does someone know what bills are due and when?
  • What other things could pop up in the time you are away?
  • Does your family know whom to contact in the event of an emergency?
  • Have you set up a bank account before your arrival?

Here are some great tips for once you begin boot camp. Follow them, and you'll be in good shape to pass!

1. Shut Up and Listen

The basic rule of thumb is that recruits should be seen and not heard. Another way of putting it: When it comes to your drill instructors, don't speak until spoken to.

2. You Don't Make the Rules

Don't argue with your drill instructors. EVER! There is no way that you will win, and it will cost you in terms of extra PT. In the battle of wills, they hold a decidedly unfair advantage.

3. Pick Me

Be careful what you wish for. Standing out can have its rewards, but it is a double-edged sword. You likely won't be asked to volunteer for a leadership assignment, like squad leader, but if they pick you, you will find yourself responsible not only for your own performance but also those in your squad.

4. Prioritize

In boot camp, your life is going to be broken down into two piles; things you want to do (like sleep, read or write mail, talk with your buddies) and things you have to do (shine your shoes, roll your laundry, buff floors, scrub toilets). The temptation will be strong to slack off and procrastinate. Don't. Take care of what you have to first. Remember, the military will not make you disciplined, but your drill sergeants can make you wish you were.

5. Stay Focused

Boot camp is 80% mental and 20% physical. Don't get discouraged or give in to the temptation to give up (namely because quitting is not an option.) Don't look too far ahead and stay focused on the task at hand.

6. Help Your Buddy

You will live, eat, sleep, fight and die as a team. The sooner you learn to work as a team, the sooner life will get better for you. Boot camp is about being part of the team; individuals are weeded out and swiftly taken care of. You need to focus on the "we'' aspect of everything you do.

7. Break the Rules at Your Own Risk

Very few rules (no smoking, no going to the movies, no drinking alcohol, etc.) are unique to boot camp, but they expect you to follow them. Failing to do so may convince the military that you are not worth the time or resources. At the very least, you will find yourself poorer financially and more invigorated physically.

8. Do Not Question the Logic Behind What You're Doing

Just about everything you will do in boot camp has a purpose, even if that purpose is nothing more than to confuse you. There will come times when you will want to question why you are doing something, which, in your opinion, is stupid and a waste of time. Boot camp is a one-size-fits-all method, and so it never sits well with everyone. Suck it up and remember point No. 5.

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