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Life in the Compartment

Treading Water

Written by
Published: March 11, 2012
Updated: July 7, 2017

Boot Camp (Part II):

Treading Water

By
ETSA Slebodnik D.V. USN

Are you still here, Recruit? Good work, you’ve made it through the first phase. Your next evolution will be life in the compartment. Every morning when the Recruit Division Commander (RDC) enters, morning routine will commence. Where within fifteen minutes all 60+ of your Division must wake up, dress in uniform of the day, shave, brush your teeth, make your rack and be on the toe line in time for chow.

The Galley will very well be the best part of your day. Every meal you get two choices of entrée and sides that do taste good, the people are nice and every Sunday you’ll get ice cream for dessert. However, you must still remain silent the entire time keeping your face to the wall or in your notebook (given to you at first issue and always in you left hand while outside of the compartment), or be written up by the RDC that catches you.

During the first days of training, you’ll begin with the most complicated of daily tasks you will encounter in your time at Recruit Training Command (RTC), folding and stowing your laundry. Everything from your uniforms to your socks must be folded exactly as your RDC will instruct you, and each item is to be placed in your rack, each with a specific location. All instructions on folding and stowing are to be copied in your notebook for future reference. Soon to come will be the second most difficult skill to perfect “¦shining your boots.

When your Division goes anywhere outside of the ship, all will be marching every step of the way; all formed up in ranks like a bus, trained in formation, commands and cadences. This is the Division’s chance to shine to all of RTC as you all will be demonstrating your teamwork, cohesion, and military bearing. Marching in step with eyes front while following commands and singing cadence. I promise you Recruit, marching done well you will have as much pride as you will fun.

Three days out of the week, the Division will have organized physical training (PT) either in the gymnasium or the compartment itself. The organized PT is surprisingly rather light, on the condition that the Division finishes each exercise in unison; otherwise, the count rolls back to zero. Sound like fun? Actually, this promotes uniformity between you and your shipmates, to watch out for one another and to encourage each other to finish as a team.

After the day’s activities, the Division will hygiene (shower) before evening chow. Everybody will gather their hygiene gear and a fresh set of clothes and stand at the toe line waiting for word from your RDC. Grab a spot on the bench while they last and avoid placing your clothes near the urinals on the bathroom floor, you’ll have enough germs to worry about already without the possibility of pink eye. When washing, just keep your eyes on the walls and you won’t creep out being bunched with naked recruits trying to wash the soap away.

Also, don’t be that guy that turns down the nozzle to hog the water. Your shipmates don’t like the situation either, you’re all just dealing with it. On the same subject of hygiene, wash your hands every head call for at least two minutes, and do not use the hand sanitizer more than three occasions or your hands will begin to peel. Once you’re dressed and out of the head, you’ll take your dirty clothes to the laundry sacks to be washed.

Before lights out finally comes around, the evening routine will commence. Beginning with laundry distribution, the clean clothes are dumped in the middle of the compartment and tossed to the recruits as you all practice marching around the compartment and singing cadence while returning clothes to your shipmates’ racks. This is about the most laid back it gets all day with the RDCs present. Afterward will be the full cleanup of the compartment, right before evening prayer for those who wish to participate; it does help.

Finally, keep this in mind as the days pass by being thrown together with a group of guys that are scared, tired, and homesick; believe it or not, not all of you will get along. It is human nature to be butting heads. The entire Division consists of people of different ages and backgrounds from all over the country if not the world, of course there will be friction. There does come a point where shipmates must simply have to agree to disagree. At this point, keep your mind on the task at hand and get the job done; afterward, simply avoid them.

However, if you do find yourself unfairly targeted or bullied by other shipmates after asking them to cease and desist, take that to your chain of command because hazing is not tolerated in the Navy. The last thing any recruit should have to worry about is getting harassed by some trash talker who can’t hack it in the military needing an ego boost. You’re all working toward the same thing, graduation. After that, you’ll part ways going to your “A” schools and moving forward in the U.S. Navy. Whether or not it will be with lifetime friends or enemies depends entirely on you, Shipmate.



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A Navy recruiting blog that delves into the military enlistment process and benefits of service. This is NOT an official United States Navy or government web site. The opinions expressed are my own, and may not be in-line with any branches of the government or military.

Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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