If you learn nothing else, pay attention to the following survival tips to help get you through Marine Corps boot camp.
1. Basic hygiene. This is something very hard to do with literally seconds to do it. You have 50-75 other recruits racing you to the head to get a shower, a shave and teeth brushed. The only advice that can be given is to react quickly and move even faster. It is going to be a mad house and not only that, it is going to be slippery. You are just going to have to insert yourself wherever you can. Brush your teeth first and do only what you have to do within a span of 5 seconds. Once that is done, then get in the shower. To cut corners, wash all the “necessary” parts first. Any open sores or cuts should be washed first. Infection can be a very nasty thing to deal with when living with 75 other recruits. Finish with a quick wash down of the rest of your body and then get out! Often the drill instructors will count down and you had better be back on the line in your squad bay when they get to one. There’s no time for singing in the shower or playing with your rubber ducky. One of the no-no’s is scratching. You are not allowed to touch your face at all. Scratching can lead to an infection. Keep your hands out of your face.
2. Boots. Make sure your boot laces are securely tucked in at all times. Try to loosen your laces when you take your boots off so they will be easier to put on when your are told to do so.
3. Chow. There is limited time to eat chow. Make sure you stick to the foods with the most carbohydrates in them because you will need that energy. Drink water whenever you can and avoid milk as it will curdle in your stomach and make you vomit in the hot sun.
4. Head Calls. Drill instructors must allow you to make head calls. However may recruits use that as an excuse to have a break from training. This can irritate the rest of your fellow recruits and cause the entire platoon to be held up. Ask only when you need to go and make the most efficient use of your time.
5. Mark your gear. Make sure that you mark all of your gear as you get it and as soon as possible. You are held responsible for any gear that is missing and you don’t want to be left with no underwear because you didn’t put your name on them. Mark you gear with your last name only. No one cares what your first name is and you could get a lot of harassment by the drill instructors if they catch wind that you’ve referred to yourself as a human being.
6. Square away time. Use this time to prepare your uniforms or study your knowledge. Do not use it to write letters. Wait to do that on Sunday when you have extra square away time. You will see your family in three months anyway but you had better make sure you pass each evolution by keeping your head focused and in the game concentrating on what you have to do next.
7. Do what you’re told, when you’re told and only that. This seems in theory to be easy enough to follow. Yet, many recruits want to interpret the drill instructor’s orders or assume certain things that were not specifically relayed to them. Big mistake! Do exactly what you are told when you are told to do it. Follow orders. That’s it. Don’t read into it and definitely don’t give any excuses such as “I thought you meant..” Oh, and keep your mouth shut!
8. Gas Chamber. The biggest piece of advice to give is that you are not going to die. Yes, the gas is going to burn your eyes and your throat. You will experience the initial panic of suffocating but you will not. Do not feed into the panic that may go on around you from those recruits who do not have the discipline to stay calm. It’s a mental game, realize that and you should be fine.
9. Combat Survival Swimming. This can be similar to the gas chamber if you are not a swimmer. Again, they will not let you die. Follow instructions carefully. If you do not know how to swim, they are going to teach you how. Do not freak out. This can get you dropped to a newer platoon which will delay your training. Stay calm, do what you are told and you will get through it.
10. Hydration. This is the single most important point to remember. You need to be constantly drinking water. Drink before you are thirsty. You do not want to fall out as a heat case. The corpsman has to check your core temperature and will literally pull your pants down on the spot regardless of who’s around and give you what they lovingly call the silver bullet. Humiliation and taunting from your fellow recruits and drill instructors could follow. Don’t give them material to torture you with. Hydrate!