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Coast Guard Boot Camp
Coast guard boot camp

Less than four percent of applicants are selected for enlisted service in the U.S. Coast Guard. (Official Coast Guard Blog)

Coast Guard Boot Camp: Not As Easy As You Think

At Cape May, NJ pond scum has more rights and privileges than you and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. You have to understand though that the easiest way to take dozens of individuals from all walks of life is to break them down by excessive yelling and physical exertion. So don’t take it personally. Your Training Instructor (the Coast Guard’s version of a Drill Sergeant/Instructor) only has your best interests at heart. And that is why during the next 7½ weeks, you will evolve from pond scum to tadpole to guppy all the way to a killer great white shark. The Coast Guard would not have it any other way.

You just thought you were in shape

I’m tempted to say the first week of Coast Guard Boot Camp is the hardest, but come to think of it, every week of Basic Training is a killer. Coast Guard physical training ranks right up there with the Marine Corp in terms of toughness. The CG adds to the challenge by issuing everyone a rifle which is like carrying around a barbell for 7 weeks. You will learn to do all sorts of physical training (PT) with your weapon. So brace yourself for a whole lot of PT plus other chores like cleaning.

By your second week your PT regimen continues but the workload is augmented by the survival swimming/float test which in turn is augmented by classes on Coast Guard history, customs and courtesy’s.

You’ll be into Week Three before you know and now, in addition to everything else you continue to do from the prior two weeks, you’ll find yourself talking more classes including 9mm handgun introduction. This will segue into spending time on the 9mm handgun range during Week Four where you’ll have to qualify. You’ll also take your Coast Guard boot camp “midterm exam” which will test you on everything you have been exposed to up until now.

By weeks five and six you’re over the hump and at least some of your time will be spent preparing for the next phase of your career: namely where you will go after to Basic Training. Perhaps a training school or your first duty assignment. Don’t worry though. You’ll still be waking up at 0530. You’ll still be doing more push-ups than you ever thought were humanly possible. But you’ll also have more confidence than ever before. Not a bad trade-off if you think of it.
By week seven you’ll note you’ve progressed from pond scum to shark bait. You Company Commander will treat you with a modicum of respect. You’ll take your final exam and final PT test. We’ll go on the assumption that you will pass because after more than 7 weeks of training virtually round-the-clock, you deserve nothing short of graduate with flying colors. You’ll know the Coast Guard inside and out. You’ll be able to tie knots in your sleep and you’ll know more about fire safety than Smokey the Bear.

You’ll feel like a million dollars in small unmarked bills and your graduation ceremony will be something you will cherish always. The Coast Guard – not one to be overly nostalgic or emotional about such things – will look to get you out and onward to your next location as soon as possible.

So it can start training the next bunch of raw recruits.