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A Basic Account of Army Basic Training a.k.a. BOOT CAMP

Updated on October 18, 2009

Basic Training Graduation

The Shock

The first day of Basic Training is defintely something to remember. I was lucky, and I came in with the general knowledge of what to expect. It's a personality trait of mine that can only be described as an insatiable hunger to learn, and that included my need to learn about what I had gotten myself into. It also helped that my fiancé remembered Basic Training so vividly as well, so naturally I pummeled him full of questions. All of this just to say that I wasn't as shocked as everyone else, but it was still very different.

Right away in my initial point in training was a lot of push ups, muscle failure, and yelling. It's all a part of the "soldierization process" that takes you from civilian to U.S. Soldier. Fortunately for me, I exercised before I joined and my body wasn't as shocked with the training as it would have been. Unfortunately, many of my fellow trainees were not as ready for the muscle failure and the yelling.

Everything was different than life before the training. You lived in one big room with lockers along the length of the walls and bunks branching away from the lockers. In the very middle of the room, the floor was a polished black rectangle that no one was allowed to step on, it was only for Drill Sergeants and Officers. We all got in trouble and did more muscle failure training because one female stepped on the black part of the floor. About 60 trainees were crammed into this room, with only a handful of toilets that broke one by one.

Basic Training is difficult because of the people you live with and their actions. This is why: In this initial point in training, for three months, when a battle buddy did something wrong everyone got punished for it. No exceptions- unless the Drill Sergeant decided to allow the misfit to stand and watch while the rest of us were smoked*.

The training itself isn't difficult at this stage, it's the conditions we had to endure in order to go through the training. Early wakeups were expected and even the "fireguard" we had to do during the night. Fireguard meant that there were a certain amount of people awake for a certain amount of time doing certain chores and guarding the entrance to the room. The amount of people and the amount of time depended on good behavior. If someone was selfish and they wouldn't wake up for fireguard, then the next night half of the 60 would be on fireguard for 2 hours and then the next half would wake up for the other 2 hours and so on. It's mandatory by law that we must get at least four hours of sleep, but no one said that it had to be four complete hours of sleep. An hour of sleep here and an hour of sleep there, just as long as it added up to four hours, it was all good.

Right away after wakeup was the run. We ran 2 1/2 miles every day on all sorts of terrain. After the run, everyone had 15-30 minutes to clean the room, the bathroom, and change into the Army Combat Uniform (ACU's). Next was the 30 minute (minimum) wait for breakfast. Once we sat down to eat, we had exactly five minutes to shovel everything down and get out of there.

You can imagine the shock everyone was feeling as we were herded from one place to another. With the shouting and yelling as our music.

*Smoked- it's our Army term for a lot of mandatory physical exertion whether it be pushups, killers, the plank, or any other torture device said to make pain in the guise of physical exercise. Duration of a smoking is up to the person giving the smoking. Interminable.

Just "Yes Drill Sergeant!" and Bear it

 Basic Training is pretty much just do what you're told and do your job well. Whether you are mucking out the bathroom stalls at 2 a.m. or doing some really Hooah training, you must always do your job efficiently and correctly. Basic Training is not the time to mess around. Do what you need to do and get out of there. The fastest way out of Basic Training is to hold out until graduation day.

There will be more military training. After Basic there is your Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which is tied to your MOS (job) learning. Depending on your job, AIT will be either really psycho or a lot like college but with physical exercise and training. So get through Basic Training successfully and you may just have a life afterwards!


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    • profile image

      gracie 16 months ago

      Im considering when I am old enough enjoining the army this has really helped answer a lot of questions so thank u.

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      Lilieta F. 3 years ago

      Hey Jessica W, I've just finished reading your article and I have to say,it is truly inspiring and extremely helpful, especially coming from a female. I am a 17 year old female, and I am seriously thinking about enlisting into the army. And now that I have read your article, I just wanted to say thank you sooooooooooo much! I really needed to read this. You've just given me a lot of hope and encouragement while everyone else has been putting me down, because of the fact that I am female. My family thinks that I am just a young naïve girl, that doesn't know what she wants in life and had just been persuaded by a sweet talking recruiter. And that isn't even true. But getting back to the point, Thank you so very much! I surely appreciate your article(:

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      Emmanuel 5 years ago

      Oh I really love the comments so far bt my major problems are pushups & running. What do I do?

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      Melissa B 5 years ago

      I am a 21 year old female on the fence on joing the army. My ex boyfriend joined the army, and before he did all I thought about was "why would he go there". Now look me, considering to do the same. Physically is it not something I am prepared for. But reading everything, you have really encouraged me and made me realize that it's also a mental challenge that I would like to conquer...The best advice I think though, is that we prepare BEFORE we go to basic. As I will.

      Thank You for this article.

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      Chase S 5 years ago

      I know the army is a bit different for women, I am one of those guys with the authority problem, but to everyone else on this page, the best thing to do is expect the worst, so when you see that its not as bad as you thought you will be relieved. Half the work is willpower and your state of mind. As long as you believe in yourself you can do anything, im sure i wont like basic, but this gives me a chance to make something out of myself. I def dont like being told what to do, but that part of me is going to have to fade away for a long time. What you have to realize is its their job to tell you what to do, and in reality they are helping you by being a dick to you. they are making you stronger, so that you can perceive things better and be able to think under pressure. I enlisted in october as Army Infantry, and in one week, april 2nd i will be at ft benning. Good luck to all of you, just believe in yourself and do your best to overcome obstacles. Mainly for me is realizing that its their job to yell, and basically treat you like a dog. One piece of advice though, if you feel like breaking down Do Not Hold It In, do so in ur bunk because that shit will drive you insane. Ill be fine though ive been through hell in my life, this is going to be a breeze moreso for me than anyone, ohhh and another thing, ill tell anyone i hear complaining to stfu. bitching and complaining stopped when you enlisted, and its going to make it worst at basic. but still good luck to all of you, and Jessica W, I acknowledge you helping these ladies, your a great help, keep up the good work :)

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      Jenna Smith 5 years ago

      Thank you so much, this has helped a lot! i'm 16 and intrested in joining the military, but i am still debating between marines and army. i also want to pursue a physical career in combat. any advice?

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      monikp5836 6 years ago

      Sol C I am experiencing the same thing. People are telling me that it's not for me, the recruiter is going to sugarcoat everything and to think twice. But the more I think about it, the more I want to do it. Jessica W I really appreciate you writing about a womans experience in the army. I am 31 and I believe I can do this. I have already started pushing my body to prepare for basic training. I will meet with a recruiter in a couple of days to ask questions etc. By reading hubs like this one, I can have a better feel of what to expect. Thank You!

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      Sol C  6 years ago

      I just wanted to thank you so much for all the great information. I am a 26yo female and I am really considering joining the Army. However comments from ppl saying I'm a bit late in age and so on tend to want to push me away from this desire. But I am still determined! I have been looking up and down the internet for more information and women experiences and or even better from women who joined at a later age but it has been nearly impossible to find. I would love to talk to more women about their experiences and get all the information I possibly can so if there is anyone out there who can shear with me or lead me in the right direction I would really appreciate it!!

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      xan 6 years ago

      Hi, tanx u ve been realy helpful. I am joining the Nigerian army in a few months! And I still don't knw hw to run.....but am learning and pushups..........jeezNow dats some hard work! I can do this.....I know

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      Simone 7 years ago

      Damn EVERYDAY running for 6 weeks OMG!!! I laughed when I read that but I still CANT WAIT!!

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      DSLEEP 7 years ago

      Well, i am 28, and in 5 more months I plan on joining the army. A mind game true enough, I weighed 314lbs a month ago, now , at 295lbs I can run .53 miles in 8 min with enough entergy to continue. An 8 min mile will be a piece of cake soon. Running is the only concern i have toward basic training, I five months I will weight 210-220lbs, by then, running will be nothing...GOD Bless America

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      Brittleanne 7 years ago

      Jessica W. I am glad I ran across your hub. I am a divorced mother of 3, 33 years old and have been considering the benefits of the military career for some time now. I knew that my recruiter was sugar-coating things about the bct a bit, but I it is nice to read the info from a woman's prospective.

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      Lauren 7 years ago

      Hey do you have a Facebook?? I'd really like to message you with some questions.

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      White 8 years ago

      Hi. Just found this article... Im leaving for BCT in less than a week, to Fort Knox and I find your article very helpful. I come from a long tradition of Army men and I heard all the stories, but its always good to hear some useful info too!

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Another great and accurate hub on Army BCT. Having served 14 years as a drill Sergeant your comment is correct "Just Yes Drill Sergeant" and bear it. It's all a mind game and it appeared that you figured it out early enough. I was a DI from 1987 - 2001. Where did you do BCT? I am sure I didn't train you as you were probably too young to join the military during my time as a DI.

      Great job young soldier and again, thanks for your service!


    • Jessica W profile image

      Jessica W 8 years ago

      AlexiusComnenus, definitely true, though some are more stubborn than others. Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. Your thoughts are much appreciated!

    • Jessica W profile image

      Jessica W 8 years ago

      goldentoad, you'd be surprised by how many people who join the military with authority problems. Things aren't too bad for them. My fiancé especially has an authority problem and he's been in the Army for almost six years. It's made him determined to rise in the ranks... so that he can be the authority ;) Thank you for your comment!

    • AlexiusComnenus profile image

      AlexiusComnenus 8 years ago from GA

      Our authority problems got straightened out REAL quick. A few days of muscles DYING and people shut up, put their heads down, and said "Yes drill sergeant!"

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      I always wondered if I could have survived basic training, I had a real authority problem and a need to do things my way. I liked your hub.

    • Jessica W profile image

      Jessica W 8 years ago

      Thank You Lgali.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      nice hub