Reception Week

So after (another) long sabbatical, I’ve motivated myself enough to get back on the blogging train and continue reminiscing upon my BCT/OCS/continuing journey. Had a really great e-mail conversation with blog reader, Hoang, and I realized just how much easier it is to write about my experiences when I’m answering specific, guided questions, as opposed to having to pull all of this out of my ass. But, nevertheless, we will persevere.

After covering departure day and the first reception welcoming, I’m going to throw as much info as I can into one post about the rest of reception week. As I previously said, I left on Monday, August 7, and everyone else that filtered in throughout that night became Bravo 1. We all shipped off to our actual training company that Saturday, August 12, so we spent about five days total at reception. You’ll always hear soldiers say the worst part about basic training in reception. To be truthful, I didn’t find reception to be all that bad. Sure, it’s boring. It’s tense. But I found other parts of basic training to be much worse (cough first wakeup in Delta 1-48 cough).

Our saga continues on Tuesday, August 8 at 0345 wakeup. We had 15 minutes the first morning to be formed up outside the bay in our PT uniforms with Camelbak, laundry bag, and shipping paperwork (honestly, I remember that first week always having to carry that damn laundry bag around to carry our shit in, and I don’t remember why that was ever necessary. Literally the paperwork and our Blue Book was pretty much all we ever had so I feel like the laundry bag was just a hazing ritual to make you recognize how lowly you were). The first reception day, I listed the events that took place in my handy-dandy notebook, which included: chow, blood draw, getting our CACs and Eagle Cards for our visit to the PX, vision test, and OCP issue. We were back to our bay by 1800 and the first fire guard shift started at 2100 while new recruits that would make up Bravo 2 started rolling in. Fire guard was somewhat similar to what it would become in basic, but less strenuous (not that it was ever that strenuous…).

Two females volunteered that first day to be bay leaders, and were responsible for creating the fire guard roster as well as keeping tabs on who was arriving and in what bunk. Honestly, there was only supposed to be one bay boss, but for some reason two females really wanted to do it so they were both allowed, and it just created a mess. Note: more hands in the pot is not always better or more helpful. I think I maybe did fire guard twice the entire time I was at reception since there were constantly more females coming in almost every night. Fire guard was super lax in reception, and as long as you stayed awake, there wasn’t much else you were expected to do unless an emergency arose (it never did).

Unfortunately, I literally have no more notes from reception week, but remember fragments here and there. There are obviously medical stations everyone has to complete in order to continue to their training company. There wasn’t any movement in cohorts, and you were allowed to go to whatever station was closest or had the shortest line, but generally the reception DSs would tell you where you needed to be. The civilians and soldiers that work the medical stations aren’t generally very friendly, but that’s because they deal with hundreds of inept, immature recruits every day. Keep your head on, and actually listen to what they say and it doesn’t create an issue.

This is the week you’ll also get your Army issued glasses if needed. You’ll do an eye exam, but as long as you pass them with your current glasses, they’ll just read the prescription on the lenses you brought from home and put some fancy ass black frames on them. Don’t worry, I know ya’ll are concerned that you won’t be provided with a strap that connects the glasses’ temples behind your neck. You will be! And if you want your glasses to actually stay on your face during training, you will wear this strap!

As for the PX trip–you are given a list with mandatory items you must buy. The reception drill sergeants will tell you you NEED to purchase all of the mandatory items for basic and will be checked when you get to your training unit. I brought paper/notebooks from home, so didn’t feel the need to buy a ream of paper that they deemed ‘mandatory’. Basically, if you bring items from home that will suffice, you don’t have to buy everything they tell you to. When you get to the training unit, they’re basically going to check that you have all your issued items as far as OCP/socks/boots go, and that’s it. They don’t care if you bought the 100 pack of blank notebook paper. If you don’t get it and find you need it–that’s on you.

You will, however, be forced to purchase their tennis shoes, so I wouldn’t recommend spending $80 on some new Nikes under the assumption you’ll be able to wear them at basic. Just like everyone else, you’ll be forced to wear whatever the heck colored ASICS they have in your size. For the record–the DS will ask what size shoe you were and hand you a box. If the shoes don’t fit, ask for a new damn size. Don’t suffer with too small/too big shoes just because you’re afraid to ask. (This goes for issued boots, too, but more on that later).

Basic Training Tips n Tricks:

  • You will be expected to sit very closely to one another for very extended periods of time in reception. You can get away with chatting quietly, but eventually, as always happened, quiet chatting turned into more raucous talking, and with 200 people in one room, you’re bound to get screamed at. That part is what it is. Keep your head down and study your Blue Book as much as possible during reception, because that’ll set you up for success later on down the line. There will be other times you’ll be able (and be expected to be) studying during basic, but you are expected to know a lot of information from the Blue Book going into the training unit.
  • If there is letter writing materials you would like, bring it from home. You will have opportunities to buy stamps and super high speed Army logo-ed materials, but don’t waste your money during reception buying all that type of stuff when you can bring it from home. Same goes for pens/pencils/highlighters/shampoo/body wash. They’re not going to make you re-buy mandatory shit that you already have.
  • With that being said: you WILL have to buy a hygiene kit that has an assortment of items in it. Unfortunately, I forget all that’s in there, but I know there is a bar of soap, soap dish, foot powder, and I think a toothbrush and toothpaste? So I wouldn’t bother bringing some of that stuff from home if you can get away without it for a few days before you make the PX trip.
  • FEMALE NOTE: buy the goddamn hair gel! Your options at the PX (at Leonard Wood, at least) are basically Aussie hairspray and Dark and Lovely hair gel. I’m a tiny white girl with thin, relatively short hair, and you bet your ass I bought that black girl hair gel. Sure, I had some jokes directed my way (I didn’t actually realize it was for ethnic hair when I bought it), but you know I had the tamest white girl hair there. The hairspray doesn’t do shit! Don’t waste your money! Just get the gel, for Pete’s sake.