How to Get a Letter from Boot Camp


Ross arrived at Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois on June 17th. He was there by around 10:30 pm. I know that because he used his one phone call to call his girlfriend and she told me. I write him a letter about every other day. I’m afraid if I write him every day, his RDC (recruit division commander) will think he’s a mama’s boy and be even meaner to him, though if he doesn’t write me back sometime soon, I’m going to tell him that I’m going to write him every day until he does. (Just kidding. Maybe!) I don’t even know the date of his PIR (Pass in Review aka boot camp graduation)–because he hasn’t written me. (He hasn’t written anybody else as far as I know, either.)

I try to write him upbeat stuff like, I know you’re doing great because you’re so freakishly strong. That’s why we used to call you Bam Bam when you were little. Maybe you could tell your RDC to call you Bam Bam. Do you think that would help?

I would send him cookies, but you’re not allowed to send them cookies. Or anything else. And you’re supposed to send letters in plain white envelopes. If you send anything in a colored or different-sized envelope, they are sometimes required to open it in front of their RDC. (I told his girlfriend about that to avoid any potential embarrassing situation.)

Ross was not a letter writer before he went to boot camp, so I don’t expect that will change much in boot camp, but I got a great idea from some other Navy moms–send questionnaires that only require circling the right answer or filling in the blanks. It helps non-letter writers to actually respond plus they have very little time to write letters, anyway.

I’ve been working on a questionnaire for Ross.

Here’s the whole thing:

Date: _____________

My Dear Beloved Mother,

1. I am alive/dead.

2. I love/hate boot camp.

3. My RDC is nice/mean/a little girl.

4. I wish I could: (circle all that apply)

a) work at Taco Bell again
b) take a shower by myself
c) sleep in
d) have my cell phone

5. The person I miss the most is:

a) you
b) you
c) you
d) you

6. The date of my PIR is ______________.

7. At my PIR, I want you to bring me: (circle all that apply)

a) my cell phone
b) my teddy bear
c) my grandmommy
d) candy

8. The girls here are:

a) smart
b) scary
c) pretty
d) there are girls here?

9. Boot camp is: (circle all that apply)

a) harder than I expected
b) not as bad as I imagined
c) they’re trying to kill me
d) what boot camp? I thought I was on vacation here

10. The amount of time I have to write letters is: (circle all that apply)

a) what time to write letters?
b) thank you for sending me a questionnaire to make it easy
c) I have hours and hours to write letters, I just forgot about you
d) 2 minutes once a week

11. When boot camp is over, the first thing I want to do is:

a) go to Canada
b) eat some good food
c) sleep
d) march some more! I love the marching!

12. The next time I get to make a phone call, I’m going to call:

a) you
b) you
c) you
d) you

Love Your Favorite Child,

Self-addressed, stamped envelope included!

P.S. If you’re interested, you can see what Navy boot camp is like in these two YouTube videos: Part One and Part Two.

Also, if you have a child going into the Navy, be sure to check out Navy for Moms. (Lots of good information there.) And thanks to the several of you who told me about it.


  1. Billy says:

    Go ahead and write him everyday. Mail call is the main event I looked forward to.

  2. trish says:

    If this doesn’t make him laugh, nothing will.
    Great idea!!


  3. Leah says:

    I think he’ll like the letter and will call his girlfriend again. ๐Ÿ˜†

  4. Tovah says:

    haha that is great! I didn’t know my husband when he was in boot camp but he has told me many stories. They don’t get much free time–it’s all about breaking them down and then building them back up again. But I hope you hear from Ross soon. Your circle the answer letter should do the trick!:)

  5. angiecmt says:

    Love it!!! Hopefully you will hear something soon. I was not very patient when my husband was at sea about getting letters. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Ognir says:

    I know what it is like – because I was there. Back then, there was a lot of hands-on type training. I don’t think that is goes on these days. Or so I have heard.

  7. Johanna says:

    I am imagining that Ross gets an internet break every day, when he zips straight to Chickens in the Road to see all that is going on back home. Refreshed and reassured that all is ok, he feels as if he has just had a warm conversation with his beloved mother, and is reenergized to return to the marching. He thinks “reading her blog is almost as good as writing a letter.”

    Is there a new member commenting lately? Might be Ross in disguise!

  8. Phyllis says:

    Eventually he will write. I know my son did. And when he was in port he called. From Norway and France and Egypt and everywhere they went. Lucky for me he bought a phone card, but I did get a couple of “reverse the charges” calls too. :sun:

  9. Glenie says:

    So funny, I love it.

  10. Carmen C. says:

    I love the questionnaire idea!!! My son leaves tomorrow for Army basic training:(

  11. Connie says:

    I believe Ross will think it’s funny. I’d leave a section for a one paragraph essay (and make it mandatory)! You’re a good mom, Suzanne.

  12. Kim Gibson says:

    Love it! And yes, write him. But don’t expect anything back. My son did write back, others didn’t. If yours never writes, they will MAKE him if you ask them to, but that can be counter productive…. but I can assure you, he does love to GET letters.

  13. Karen Templeton says:

    Twelve years ago, at the tender age of 18, #1 left for Marine Corps boot camp. (His dad took it much harder than I did, poor guy.) Eventually, we started getting post cards, scribbled in #1’s microscopic print. One of the earlier ones — which I still have somewhere — said they were allowed to have candy sent to them. But since they had to share, we were to “please send a significant amount.”

    We did. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Carolyn Dulke says:

    The smile that spread across my face when I saw this post could have lite up the whole atate of Texas!! I could tell you checked out Navy for Moms!! Now I know you are hooked into a network of Moms who can do for you, what you have done for so many others with this Blog. Blessings of galactic magnitude upon you, Ross, Bootcamp Moms, and all the rest of you who click in here every day to sit a spell with friends.

    Ross is in my prayers, as are you.


  15. catslady says:

    I hope he fills it out lol. I’m sure he has a good sense of humor. My husband went in the service a year after we were married and was eventually sent to Nam – I wrote him every single day and of course he couldn’t do the same and sometimes I would get 3 or 4 at once after a very long time. Luckily you knows he’s probably very safe right now – hope it stays that way ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Amber says:

    You are hilarious; if that doesnโ€™t get a response then nothing will! I bet they keep those soldiers busy training almost every minute of the day. Iโ€™m sure he is missing you a lot!

  17. joycee says:

    He’s gonna love these letters! Letters from Home are the glue that will keep him going these hard weeks ahead. Hard for Mama too, sending up a little prayer for you both this morning…

  18. Jeannie says:

    That totally cracks me up! You are too funny! I guess being a “boy” in boot camp is different than being a “girl”, because I wrote my Dad EVERY day. Even if I had to write snippets and cram it in my pocket to finish later, I wrote….and often. I could not wait until my first chance to make a phone call (two weeks in) so I could call home, and then I started bawling like a baby when he picked up. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good luck with your letter….it looks great!!

  19. Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage says:

    What a great idea…I love the questionnaire! I bet Ross get’s a kick out of it too. I bet one of the first things he’s going to want when he’s done is your home cooking…do you have your list all made out or are you going to send him another questionnaire with food choices ๐Ÿ˜‰ !! Chic :hungry2:

  20. mary says:

    :purpleflower: That’s funny, Suzanne! He’s probably trying to toughen you up a bit by not writing back!! I’m sure he’s fine! :dancingmonster:

  21. Elvira says:

    you did a good job, the best !!

    I’ve spoken with my 2 sons about boot camp.
    Here in Germany they have to got to the army or they have the possibility to do something else in social work. And they did years ago.

  22. Rose C. says:

    When my boys where in boot camp, I could only use a flag stamp, anything they did push ups. He will write you when he has time, he just left, and you will get a letter in a few weeks. They have to write one, so hang in there. Welcome to becoming a military mom! This is not an easy job! Do you have a blue star banner?

  23. Linda says:

    They will make him write you, but as I said, their mail system seems to be really messed up. And you should get all the information on graduation, hotel making and everything about halfway into boot camp.

    Good luck to him, and you, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. jane hill says:

    Suzanne, great questionnaire for your son. He’ll surely respond to it. Boot camp is misery but if he gets past this, he’ll make a fine seaman. Just hang on until then. Hugs, Jane

  25. Runningtrails says:

    You’re a good mom, Suzanne. He’ll be okay.

    My son is applying to join the military here too. He should have his application process done in a couple of months, I think. Boot camp here in Canada is similar, four weeks incommunicado with lots of marching and screaming seargents.

    He’s a good boy, he’ll be fine.

  26. patrice says:

    Maybe you could write a book of form letter just like that for all occasions. They could be everything from a letter to mama to a “Dear John” form. It really might catch on.

    Better yet, maybe you could type up form letters for our farm animals to communicate with us. I’d be scared to see what our horse has to say after his training session today!

  27. Paula says:

    You are doing great! When my oldest son left for the Navy way back in 1989, we were told not to expect a letter from him for about 2 weeks. They were too busy. The only way we knew he got there okay was when his box of civilian clothes came in the mail. I could have sworn they killed him, but he was fine. :happyflower: He spent 6 years in the Navy and came home a better man.

  28. Nancy says:

    When my “Beautiful Baby Girl” was in Navy Boot Camp (at Great Lakes) I worried myself sick. I had read enough to know that they treat them horribly and it just broke my heart to think of people being mean to my baby… It sounds like you’re dealing with it a lot better than I did.

  29. The Library Lady says:

    Funny. I love the questionnaire. I think you should mail it…what a hoot. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from him for a long time. When my son went to boot camp for the Coast Guard it was weeks before we heard. I continually wrote anyway. Finally midway they earned a day off in town where they could finally use a pay phone and call someone. That was a relief. Graduation day, well just let me say I thought my heart would burst with pride. You sent away a boy and low and behold out came a man. Good luck.

    The Library Lady

  30. Hazard says:

    I did the same thing when my son went to Marine boot camp in 2005. The letters from him will come eventually, and I think we worry more about them than they worry about us!

  31. JSu says:

    My grandma did this for my dad when he was in the airforce almost 50 years ago now. Somehow I think hers weren’t quite as funny as yours. Glad to see the tradition continues.

  32. SuzieQ says:

    :dancingmonster: You should make MANY copies and make available for purchase at all boot camp locations. A solution for recruits and a reward for all parents and maybe a little $$ for you.

  33. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Love it! You are so creative! This letter could be used as a template and come in handy in other situations as well, say Summer Camp?


  34. Mardell says:

    Is there a sight for Army moms? My 22 yr. old will be going to Bootcamp in GA next month. When I ask him question about this-n-that, he replies, “I dunno…” :hissyfit: Just reading comments here I learned about the white envelopes, candy rules etc.

    Thank you for any info. I hope you hear from Ross soon. How long will he be gone? My son will be gone for 16 weeks.

  35. Tabitha says:

    lol…i’m finding this late but you make me laugh laugh laugh

  36. kj says:

    I absolutely LOVE your questionaire. Wish I had thought of doing this for my son while he was in boot camp.

  37. nanaK says:


    I loved your questionnaire! Great sense of humor!! If he doesn’t get a kick out of it he IS dead…. (just kidding.
    P.S. I hope you hear from him soon.

  38. nanaK says:


    Suzanne~ I forgot to say, I grew up in Winnetka, Illinois – (not too far south from Great Lakes)….it’s beautiful country in that area. Here’s hoping he gets to see some of it before he leaves.

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