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Our goal at Training Center Cape May is to prepare you for military duty and the stress associated with emergency response situations. Our expert and professional staff will train and test you in Physical Fitness, Water Survival & Swim Qualifications, Wellness and Nutrition, Self Discipline, Vocation, Academics, Military Skills, and Military Bearing. We strive to instill a sense of pride and honor in every individual, and to bring you, along with your company, to a new level of excellence.

During the next eight weeks, we will assist you in making the transition from civilian to military member. You will gain the understanding of your responsibility to become a committed, productive member of the Coast Guard.

Recruit training is tough! You will be challenged to accomplish more than you ever thought possible. In eight weeks, you will learn the importance of teamwork, hard work and positive attitude!

This is your Survival Guide. Know it and know it well! The information provided in this guide will help you prepare for and succeed at recruit training. The required knowledge is mandatory. The physical fitness is essential.


The Coast Guard is a military, maritime, multi-mission service operating within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to the safety and security of the American people.

The Coast Guard traces its roots to the United States Revenue Cutter Service established by Alexander Hamilton (the father of the Coast Guard) under the Department of the Treasury on August 4, 1790. The initial laws establishing the Revenue Cutter Service authorized the building of ten cutters that were tasked with enforcement of tariff laws and the prevention of smuggling.

The modern Coast Guard dates to 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the United States Life-Saving Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the “Act to Create the Coast Guard.” In 1939, the U.S. Lighthouse Service was added. In 1942, the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was transferred to the Coast Guard. In 1967, the Coast Guard moved from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Transportation, which lasted until 2003 when it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The five uniformed services that make up the Armed Forces are defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(a) (4) “The term “armed forces” means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.” The Coast Guard is further defined by 14 U.S.C. 1 “The Coast Guard as established 28 January 1915 shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times. The Coast Guard shall be a service in the Department of Homeland Security, except when operating as a service in the Navy.”

The Coast Guard is a unique branch of the military responsible for an array of maritime duties, from ensuring safe and lawful commerce to performing rescue missions in severe conditions. Nearly 42,000 men and women are actively serving in the Coast Guard to defend America’s borders and protect the maritime environment.

Roles and Missions

The Coast Guard proudly performs 11 official missions including:

  • Ports & Waterways Security Drug Interdiction
  • Aids to Navigation
  • Search & Rescue
  • Living Marine Resources
  • Marine Safety
  • Defense Readiness
  • Migrant Interdiction
  • Marine Environmental Protection Ice Operations
  • Law Enforcement

Before You Arrive

Before you arrive for basic training, you need to prepare yourself physically, mentally and financially. Make sure you also have the right clothing and supplies, and most importantly - The Right Attitude!

Financial Arrangements

We strongly recommend that you make financial arrangements with your creditors to either delay payments for two months or pay in advance to cover the time you will be away at basic training. When you arrive at Cape May, you must have a checking or savings account and an ATM card. Your pay will be direct deposited into this account. The only way you will be able to access it will be to withdraw it from your personal account with your ATM card, so be sure you try your card at least once before you arrive.


ATMs are available and are located at the Coast Guard Exchange.

Pay Grade

Recruit trainees are paid in accordance with current pay scales for the pay grade in which they were enlisted. Most recruits are enlisted as E-1. However, there are some enlistment programs which bring people in at pay grades E-2 and E-3.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

In addition to base pay, recruits with families may apply to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). This is normally done during week one of training. The amount is based on the status of your dependents.

Educational Benefits

The G.I. Bill is a financial assistance program available to qualified veterans of the Coast Guard to help pay the cost of pursuing a higher education. The G.I. Bill has many programs and each is administrated differently-depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status. You will receive detailed information on each program available to you from the Cape May training staff. If you want to learn more about program details and your options prior to your arrival, visit or speak to your recruiter.

Statement of Rights

Certain rights are fundamental to the welfare of all recruits and shall not be denied. The training environment will be free of discrimination, recrimination, or intimidation based upon a person’s race, creed, color, gender, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Recruits will not be harassed and they will not be assaulted. Recruits will be able to attend religious services and see a chaplain upon request, have access to medical care, and address concerns to their chain of command.


The following items are considered contraband and will be disposed of, and possession of some of these items will result in immediate removal from training:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • All pornographic photos or materials
  • Any glass containers (plastic containers are permitted) Consumables (any food or beverage)
  • Magazines
  • Narcotics and drug paraphernalia
  • Newspapers
  • Tobacco products and associated items
  • Weapons

Items Issued to You

The following items will be issued to you upon arrival at the Training Center. (You pay for these items through allotment from your CG pay).

  • 1 Rucksack
  • 1 Silver marker
  • 3 Bars of soap/1 soap dish
  • 1 Antibacterial soap
  • 1 Deodorant
  • 1 Ironing spray NOT starch
  • 1 Shampoo
  • 1 Shower kit
  • 4 Towels
  • 1 Washcloth
  • 1 Pair shower shoes
  • 1 Lip balm
  • 1 Dental floss
  • 1 Toothpaste
  • 1 Toothbrush/holder
  • 1 Pkg. Band-Aids
  • 1 Nail clipper
  • 1 Pkg. razors
  • 1 Shaving cream
  • 1 Blister kit
  • 1 Pkg. cotton balls
  • 1 Pkg. cotton swabs 2 Locks
  • 3 Laundry pins
  • 3 Laundry bags
  • 1 Bottle starch 1 Notebook
  • 1 3 ring binder 1 Ruler
  • 12 Pens
  • 1 Highlighter
  • 1 1” stencil
  • 1 1/2” stencil
  • 1 Black marker
  • 1 Sewing kit
  • 1 Shoe shine kit
  • 2 Ditty bags
  • 1 Canteen
  • 1 Penlight
  • 2 Masking tape rolls
  • 1 Pair of running shoes

Not included in the ditty bag, but included in the sea bag: 6 pr white PF socks, 3 pr dress black socks, 6 pr wool boot socks.

Male Only Issue: 2 Athletic supporters

Female Only Issue: Small mesh laundry bag for delicates

Note: Insect repellent and sunscreen are issued May - Sept.

What to Bring

There are three categories of personal items:

  • Issue: Items issued to you upon arrival at the Training Center.
  • Permitted: Items which are allowed into training.
  • Contraband: Items which are strictly forbidden and will be thrown away.

You must bring your social security card and at least one form of government issued photo ID. Also, we recommend that you bring $50.00 cash (in small bills) to cover the cost of additional items you may desire.

You are authorized to bring one small suitcase or duffel bag (no larger than an airline carry on) with your name printed clearly on it. The bag will be used to store the clothes you arrive in until after graduation. We recommend that you arrive in comfortable weather-appropriate clothes and sneaker-type shoes.

Permitted Items for Men and Women:

  • White v-neck t-shirts (3 each)
  • Underpants (white) (6-10 pairs)
  • Navy blue long underwear (Oct-Apr)
  • Watch - Conservative examples are black, brown, navy blue, silver and gold. Prohibited examples are diamond covered, neon, bright colors, white, and bands that exceed 1-inch width.
  • Wallet
  • Cellular phone and charger
  • Wedding band
  • Cartridge type razor only (non-electric razor)
  • Bible and/or 1 religious reference book
  • Religious medallion worn on a chain long enough that it cannot be seen under a v-neck t-shirt
  • Address book
  • Stationery, envelopes, stamps
  • Hand/body unscented lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Talcum powder
  • Unframed Family photos - frames will not be allowed
  • Invisalign - may only use the appliance you arrive with
  • Plain black compression shorts, inseam no greater than 4”

Permitted Items for Women Only:

  • Birth control pills (if already using-to maintain cycle)
  • Cloth covered elastic bands that match hair color
  • Gold/silver barrettes/bobby pins or ones that match hair color
  • Only one set of ball earrings worn in lowest hole of ear (not larger than a quarter-inch in diameter gold, silver, pearl, or diamond) (Earrings may only be worn for graduation, pictures, and
  • off-base liberty)
  • Feminine hygiene items
  • Makeup (minimal amount)
  • Sports Bras (white/skin tone) 6 each, 1 Regular Bra - Hair gel and shampoo/conditioner

Note: If you do not bring any of these items, they are available for purchase upon arrival.

Telephone Calls

Upon arrival at Cape May, a letter will be sent to your family to let them know you arrived safely. During recruit training, you may NOT receive personal phone calls, therefore you may want to contact your family when you arrive at the Philadelphia USO. Office phones at Cape May are for conducting official business only. Phone use can be granted by your Company Commander only in the later weeks of training. Recruits are authorized use of their personal cell phones if granted liberty on Sunday of week 06 and week 07.


Mail is delivered to the Training Center Monday through Friday. Due to the volume of mail received, it may take longer than normal for mail to reach you. Company mail orderlies pick up mail at a time set by the Company Commander, and return it to the Company Commander for inspection. Any suspicious looking letters or packages will be opened by you in the presence of your Company Commander. Contraband items are seized. Please see the list on page 9 so you know what may not be sent. Outgoing mail may be sent from the drop box at the Training Center Post Office or dropped in the mailbox located between Munro Hall and the Auditorium. Mail is picked up daily.
Your mailing address while at the Training Center is:
SR (Last Name, First, MI)___________________________
Recruit Company ____________________
Healy Hall, or James Hall, or Munro Hall
USCG Training Center
1 Munro Avenue
Cape May, NJ 08204-5083

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