Starting a career in the United States Coast Guard begins the same way for all enlisted members. It begins with training for basic enlistment at the USCG boot camp facility, located at Cape May, New Jersey. There used to be another training locale for boot camp, in Alameda, California, but it has been closed for over ten years. All personnel, both men and women attend basic training at Cape May.
The goal of basic training for the Coast Guard is to graduate apprentices that know the basics of military conduct, drill, discipline and teamwork, and ones that have been instructed in the overall basics of military life. Each year hundreds of fine young men and women pass through the gates at Cape May to join the ranks of active and reserve enlisted. One secondary but important goal is to instill a sense of commitment and pride, as recruits are changed into seaman apprentices or Fireman Apprentices in the Coast Guard. Core values of Respect, Honor and Duty devotion are taught to new recruits as part of the comprehensive classroom training.
You will arrive at Cape May and be checked in at Sexton Hall. The first days will be confusing, and like nothing you have experienced before. You be grouped into a Company, and assigned a Company Commander. He will be your leader, teacher, guide, coach and mentor. Your new CC will instill in you respect and the importance of following orders. You will get a uniform, have your hair cut very short (females have a different hair length, and you will have a pile of paperwork, like forms of every different kind.
If you are not already in tiptop shape physically, you are about to get that way. Physical training and conditioning is vital to be able to perform the missions that you will encounter in the Coast Guard. As you run, or do other physical tasks you will be evaluated and pushed, part of the training is learning how to deal with stress. Men are required to do thirty-eight sit-ups inside of one minute, twenty-nine pushups inside of one minute, and be able to cover one and a half miles inside of twelve minutes. Other tasks include completing a swim circuit, treading water and other swim tasks. Women also have physical tasks to perform, but they are slightly different than the male tasks.
After successfully performing these tasks, and classroom training and drill, you will be assigned your new duty station, or even a scheduled to attend your first service related job training. Congratulations, you are now a member of the U.S. Coast Guard!