We all struggle with buying gifts for our loved ones. This selection can quickly turn into a nightmare when you go deep down the rabbit hole; Will they wear this? Will they use it? Are they even going to like it in the first place? This craziness takes a whole new turn when you have family or a friend that’s just graduated from Navy Bootcamp, and you have no idea what a perfect gift for them might be. If you are reading this post, chances are you are facing this very same dilemma. If you have little knowledge about the navy bootcamps and are thinking; What should I get? Where do I look? What does my new sailor actually need? Look no further! Below you’ll find a quick and easy guide to find you the best navy bootcamp graduation gifts for your brand new sailor. Ideal gifts they can genuinely use and appreciate.
What they’ve been through – RTC Great Lakes
Recruit Training Command Great Lakes also known as RTC Great Lakes is the breeding ground for all Navy sailors. After initial selections, all recruits report at this facility where they are subjected to eight weeks of intense navalization. These eight weeks are packed with grueling physical training, intense drill practice and hardcore academics. Of course, getting yelled at constantly during the first four weeks is the norm! During all this, getting yelled at is The recruits have to pass standardized tests if they hope to graduate. Suffice to say that this cycle takes in naive civilians and turns them into sailors ready for the high seas.
An Act of Honor
Isn’t crazy to think that after putting in the blood, sweat, and tears bootcamp may have brought, our service members don’t get a decent bed to sleep afterward? Or even a hot meal that isn’t chosen by the government? It’s the sad reality of life after bootcamp. I spoke with a woman whose husband, fresh out of bootcamp, was forced to sleep in the corners of the airport for hours-yes, I said hours. It’s a huge deal to sign your life over to the military, and for those that choose to do so, they shouldn’t be left hungry or without a comfortable place to sleep after learning out to defend and honor our country.
Where Do I Even Start?
You could always start by asking your military members what they don’t have or need. If that’s not an option, start with thinking about items that could bring real value to them. Remember that during bootcamp, they aren’t allowed to have hardly any personal items from home (with some religious exemptions). After doing some research, I found the following “rules” to be extremely helpful:
- Find things that can easily be stored in tight spaces
- Buy things that are necessities
- Hygiene items are always a win
- If sentimental type gifts are something you know your sailor will love, these are a great choice too!
- Learning aides will always come in handy-even 15 years from now
Top 5 Perfect Navy bootcamp graduation gifts
Graduating bootcamp is a huge milestone at the beginning of a Navy career. Whether they choose four years or continue till retirement, nothing says congratulations like an excellent gift to commemorate the occasion. Coming straight from the minds of military moms, wives, significant others, and my own experience, I give you the top recommendations for the perfect gifts for your brand new Navy Sailor!
1. A Hotel room
A hotel room is number one on the list. Often after bootcamp, your Sailor is sent straight to the airport. Whether they have one hour or five, I can almost guarantee your service member wishes they could lay their head on a comfy pillow after having to sleep on a thin cardboard mattress for eight weeks! At times you can find hotels within the airport, yes, this one is a little on the pricey side, but to your Sailor, it’s priceless.
2. NEX/Commissary Gift Cards
NEX/Commissary gift cards are essential to prepare your sailor for their stint with the Navy. By gifting these, you can help them in buying extra uniform items within navy regulations that you can’t purchase in Target or Walmart. T-shirt’s, extra socks, uniform patches, shower shoes-all of these are essential to being prepared.
Gift cards, in general, are a great thing to gift a bootcamp graduate. They can use a Visa gift card to get a decent meal at the airport if they wanted to, or use it for an Uber ride to get to the restaurant. They can even use these gift cards for civilian clothes during their off time. Remember, since they are just starting out, their paychecks aren’t hefty, so this as a military gift can be used many times.
3. Underwear (yes, really!)
While no one (usually) wants underwear for Christmas, these gifts are guaranteed to make the transition from bootcamp a little easier. Personal items like underwear may not seem like the best gift to open after the graduation ceremony, but have you seen the underwear they are made to wear? Buying your Sailor comfortable underwear they actually like and make their daily life a lot easier!
4. A good watch (G-Shock is very popular within the Navy)
My friend told me that her husband loves to wear a watch, but it needs to be able to withstand the tests of the Navy. Ideally, the watch should be waterproof and resistant to lots of bangs and bumps. That’s why G-Shock comes recommended as it has an incredible reputation for being both!
5. Pictures of family
Don’t forget to throw a picture or two of your naval bootcamp graduate’s family with any gift you give! Life in training school after bootcamp can be quite lonely, believe it or not. They are surrounded by new people in a new area, following new rules. So, favorite pictures of their family would be a nice touch to keep them grounded.
Things to look out for
Gifts are fun to give and to receive but remember that your Sailor isn’t under Christmas like circumstances. Try not to buy bulky things, unless they ask for something particular, of course.
You want them to get the most use out of these gifts as possible; after all, they are beginning a new lifestyle and career. As they are choosing to dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our country; they most certainly do not need a bobblehead of their favorite athletic player to get them through (even though they may appreciate a good laugh)!
Even your best of intentions can put your beloved sailor in trouble, so avoid contraband items which are restricted on a military base. Take some time to learn what these are, but these may include some unusually provocative gag gifts, politically/religiously controversial items, etc.
Wrapping it up
In conclusion, while the gifts aren’t required, they are most certainly appreciated. It’s the small things like this that can keep a Navy Sailor excited and proud to have decided to defend our country. We want them to be prepared, safe, and comfortable in a situation where we have virtually no control over how their fed, what they wear, and the resources they are given. So, when you’re looking for the perfect gift for you Navy bootcamp graduate, you can refer back here for an ideal gift-giving experience.