Marine Corps Boot Camp Review: Barracks Life

Let me paint you a rosy picture of barracks life. Imagine if you will, fifty of the stinkiest, smelliest recruits like yourself all sharing one room. Approximately twenty-five bunk beds, or “racks” as they are called in Marine Corps terminology shoved into this barracks and you get to share one with a fellow recruit who is just as freaked out as you are.

Each morning at 0400 (that’s 4:00 a.m., start learning military time now) you will be “gently” awakened by the shrieking sounds of the drill instructors screaming at you to “get on line.” This means that they would like you get out of your oh so cozy beds to meet them on the line of tape that is in front of, and runs parallel to, the row of racks. They also “ask” that you put just your toes on this line. From there, they will tell you what you should do next. At this point you will wish that they had just thrown a grenade in your rack, as it would be much less stressful and less noisy compared to what they have in store for you.

If you think you have the freedom to stretch, yawn, get out of bed at your leisure or even go to the bathroom (now referred to as the “head”), you are sadly mistaken. Everything is done by what they call “the numbers.” That means that the “accommodating” drill instructors will now tell you when and in what order you can do the simplest tasks.

Barracks life is the epicenter of chaos in boot camp. It is the same stress-induced, intense routine every single day you are there. From the time you awake to the moment the drill instructors allow you to climb into your racks at night, you will not stop. You will either be moving from one place to another, learning something or drinking from your canteen. In many cases you are doing all three simultaneously.

Despite the appearance that the Marine Corps wants to get its jollies tormenting new recruits, there is a reason why they do anything and everything that they do. I have personally never seen an organization so efficient and methodical in the way they train their people. Every single action and statement is an effort in psychological training.

The barracks is where you will start and end your day, with many stops in between. You and your fellow recruits will either be on your hands and knees cleaning your barracks or you will be doing punishment exercises (“I.T.”)on the “quarterdeck,” the space in the middle of the barracks between the racks. The barracks is a place where you will have to learn how to interact with your other recruits when you are allowed to do so and where you will learn some of your greatest lessons about the Marine Corps.

The best piece of advice I can give you for surviving Marine Corps boot camp is that your success or failure will be mostly due to your mental strength. Channel your fear into understanding that you don’t have to know why the drill instructors are yelling at you, or why they are making you do certain tasks. If you can just understand that there is a valid reason for their actions, then it makes surviving this a lot easier. Drill instructors are some of the best trained Marines in the Marine Corps, and for that matter some of the best trained military men and women in the U.S. military. The Marine Corps has invested an entire proven history of the most efficient training of Marines in the world.

There is a psychological reason behind every single action they do. Trust in this and you will do fine.