Marine Corps boot camp is 12 weeks of grueling punishment that culminates in the greatest feat many people will ever accomplish. It all begins as a bus full of new recruits drives up to the main gate of the recruit depot and the bus falls silent. Fear overcomes everyone on the bus, even those who are hiding it through a forced smile. The bus approaches a building that is fronted by a row of many yellow footprints painted on the roadway. The recruits don’t know what to expect next. From behind the doors of the building a fearless brute approaches the bus. From the top of his campaign cover to the bottom of his combat boots, this Drill Instructor is strictly business. And his business is training Marines. He boards the bus and chills run through the bodies of the recruits. His commanding voice instructs many things which go mostly unheard by the frightened youths. The only instruction that is recognized is the amplified command to exit HIS bus now and to get on HIS yellow footprints!
That moment begins 36 hours of endless change (and no sleep). From the yellow footprints to the loss of old clothes, the shedding of all hair, and the complete feeling of lost individuality; the young men are now Marine recruits. During the first few weeks of boot camp, new recruits feel as though they are 3 years old. Every action taken is closely scrutinized. Every step is watched and corrected. New recruits sleep at the position of attention and awake to the sound of a banging trash can. Recruits are directed by the Drill Instructors when to wash specific parts of their body and when to shave specific parts of their faces. Twelve shower heads are available for 30 recruits to share during their 2 minute shower. They share toilets and urinals with multiple other recruits, at the same time. And this is when they are instructed to begin urinating. Everything is calculated and if done incorrectly, it is corrected. Permission must be asked to do anything, and if the order of the request is incorrect then a recruit can expect to try again and again until it is right or risk the missed opportunity to relieve themselves after being forced to drink 2 canteens full of water.
Meals are calculated as well. Recruits eat using only a utensil being held in their non-dominant hand while they stare forward, never making eye contact with their food. The time allowed for meals is approximately 5 minutes and this time is often cut short by one recruit out of 50 disobeying a rule. Throughout most of the 12 weeks, recruits are all punished for the actions of one. Disobedience by one can lead to an entire platoon missing a meal or a taking a trip to the Pit. The Pit is a large sand box in which recruits perform physical fitness activities such as push ups, sit ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or low crawls. However, the Pit is visited at least twice a day regardless of the obedience level.
Recruits can expect to drill (march) whenever they are not in classes, learning swim survival, practicing at the rifle range, doing physical training, or studying which is necessary for the better vacancy forms to fill for gaining the maximum results for the jobs from the construction recruitment. As the weeks go by, the better recruits are allowed more freedom to run errands for the Drill Instructors and complete other coveted assignments. Progression of the platoons is seen through their allowance to wear combat boots instead of tennis shoes and to wear a traditional Marine Corps high and tight hair cut instead of having to be completely shaven like new recruits.
The culminating event for Marine boot camp is The Crucible, a 54-hour challenge in which recruits are met with sleep deprivation, hunger, and mental challenges. Recruits receive only 3 meals, 4 hours of sleep each night, and hike 48 miles while wearing more than 50 pounds of gear. From beginning to end, recruits can expect to learn all of the basic skills it takes to be a United States Marine.