Have you ever seen recruits training in USMC boot camp? One common feature is always the drill instructor yelling in their faces. Every time I see that I think, “If that was me I’d totally cry.” But they never cry! At least I’ve never seen anyone cry. What happens if you cry in boot camp? Nothing, really, but I did some digging and this is what I found out.
What Is Boot Camp?
Boot camp is officially called basic training. It’s an intense period of training where recruits are physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for military service. The US Marine Corps (USMC) boot camp is 13 weeks long and is arguably the toughest of all the boot camps.
Why Is It So Tough?
Recruits in boot camp do a lot of physical training to form them to become trained fighters. They learn physical combat, shooting, marching, field tactics, swimming etc. Getting into physical shape is not the goal of boot camp though. It’s important, of course, but you could do that in an athletics summer camp. If physical toughness was the goal of boot camp, it wouldn’t be so stressful.
The goal of boot camp is to prepare for war. The recruits who graduate from boot camp have to be able to run towards danger, not away from it. They should be able to run towards the sound of gunfire and explosives. They should be able to make crucial life-or-death decisions, in seconds, in a stressful, unforgiving environment. They have to maintain their cool when in danger and get themselves and their mates out of danger. Running towards danger goes against human nature. Think about it. When you hear an unexpectedly loud bang, what do you do? You duck. Or you flinch. It’s the normal thing to do. Running towards danger isn’t’ normal, and yet Marines are expected to do it without thinking twice. You need intensive training to be able to do that.
And yet, most kids who go to boot camp are, on average, 19 years old. Most teenagers grow up in relative comfort, surrounded by a loving family who make most of the decisions. The hardest decision these kids have ever made in their lives is probably deciding to join the USMC. And these kids are expected to be able to charge an enemy attacking them. No amount of physical training can prepare you for this, and this is where the toughness of boot camp comes in.
The drill instructors are hard on the recruits because they know that war will be harder on them. They are trained under a lot of pressure because, during the war, decisions are made under a lot of pressure. They are trained not to rest when they get tired because, in war, no one will wait for them to rest before they can fight. They are kept away from family and friends because during the war, their friends will be far away, and their mates will be the closest thing they have to family. They're trained to obey their instructors because, in war, the only thing between life and death may be instant obedience to their superior.
So, boot camp is not just about getting into shape, its more than that. It’s about reprogramming kids who’ve never had to make serious decisions in their lives into combatants who can make crucial decisions under intense pressure.
Why Do People Cry at USMC Boot Camp?
With all the pressure that comes with boot camp, it’s no wonder people cry. Crying isn’t looked at as a bad thing, though some drill instructors give the recruit grief if they think he’s just feeling sorry for himself. But in most cases, you are not considered less of a marine if you cry. Well, I looked at a few videos and conversations about boot camp and came up with the most common reasons people cry:
· Homesickness- This was by far the most common reason. Many people said hearing the voices of their loved ones made them feel homesick at the beginning of boot camp.
· Frustration- the physical exercises were frustrating for some and they would deal with it by crying.
· Feeling misunderstood- some people felt misunderstood by the drill instructors
· Mental exhaustion- Boot camp can also be mentally exhausting and this can sometimes be harder to deal with than physical exhaustion.
Preparing for Boot Camp
Always keep in mind that the purpose of boot camp is not to break you, but to turn you into an effective fighter. Before you get there, you have to prepare yourself physically and mentally. I saw this video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32BAHihnBz8] of Air Force men and women talking about whether or not they cried at boot camp. Well, the Air Force is not the Marine Corps, but that is beside the point. One of the airmen says that he didn’t cry at all during boot camp because he had prepared himself beforehand. He knew it would be tough and that he would miss his family. That expectation sort of buffered him when the going got tough. Of course, prior preparation doesn’t guarantee you an easy time, but it will cushion you against the shocks of the training.
How do you Prepare Yourself for Boot Camp?
· Do physical exercises like weight training, cardio, pushups, sit-ups, and running. Daily.
· Practice punctuality to everything. If you have a problem keeping time, you’ll have a hard time in boot camp so don’t wait for it to start being punctual.
· Stick to a strict schedule. In boot camp you won’t be able to do what you want whenever you want, so start practicing that when you’re still at home.
So, remember that if you cry during USMC boot camp, the worst that will happen is that your drill instructor will make fun of you. Your mates will probably be too tired to think less of you, and sometimes it’s better to cry than to keep everything bottled up. There is no harm in expressing your emotions and you must not think of what others will make of it. The decision is yours to make!