So, you're leaving for BMT during the summer? This post isn't going to tell you what you don't already know (and what I've already written about) - it's going to be hot and you'll need to hydrate until you're running to the latrine every few minutes. Instead, I'll tell you about all of the other little things that you might be wondering about your summer vacation at Lackland!
Sunglasses - The closest you'll get to a pair of sunglasses is seeing them on an MTI. If you bring them down to BMT, they'll stay in your backpack/duffle bag in the civilian luggage closet, locked up for the duration of your stay. Yes, this means you'll be squinting. There were plenty of times where my eyes were burning in the sunshine and where they started watering as a result. Just another one of those BMT pleasantries that you'll have to get used to out of necessity.
When you get to tech school, you are allowed to wear sunglasses, although not while in formation. Most of the time that you're in uniform, you'll be in formation though. Only in those first few weeks while you're on ITP (Initial Training Phase) will you be in uniform outside of the dorm during non-duty hours. Otherwise, if you're in civilian clothes you can wear whatever sunglasses you want.
While in uniform, you must follow regulations regarding the style of your sunglasses. Per AFI 36-2903:
22.214.171.124. Eyeglasses and sunglasses may have conservative ornamentation on non- prescription sunglasses or eyeglasses, frames may be black or brown material or gold or silver wire. Brand name glasses may be worn with small logo on frames or lenses. Logo must be same color as frames or lenses. Conservative wrap-around sunglasses may be worn. Conservative, clear, slightly tinted or photosensitive lenses are authorized. Faddish styles and mirrored lenses are prohibited. Sunglasses (to include darkened photosensitive lenses) are not authorized in formation. Exception: Sunglasses are not authorized in formation, unless for medical reasons, e.g., PRK/lasik surgery and when authorized by a commander or commandant on the advice of a medical official.
Sunscreen - Prevention of sunburns falls under the BMT priority of your health and well-being. You'll spend countless hours outside while at BMT, and while you'll be in ABUs, your face, ears, hands, and neck will be exposed. Each dorm's utility closet comes equipped with bottles of sunscreen - ours had six. They were communal bottles, for everyone and anyone's use. Remember that it'll be your responsibility to initiate the use of said sunscreen. Our MTI only reminded us about it and/or insisted on it occasionally.
If you would like your own personal bottle of sunscreen, some may be purchased from the mini-mall on one of your trips. I am hyper concerned about the protection of my skin, so I picked up a small bottle of facial sunscreen that I applied when I was getting ready for PT every morning. The Texan sun is unforgiving, so regardless of your skin tone/type, apply your sunscreen often and liberally! At one point I thought I was getting a darkened spot on my under eye as a result of my exposure. My mother had bouts with skin cancer, so I know I'm susceptible.
Air Conditioning - Yes, the dorms (and all areas in the squadrons) have air conditioning! I remember the thermostats regularly reading in the 75° range while at BMT. It's a very comfortable temperature that is downright luxurious after a long day in the sun. Rolling and folding clothes may not be fun, but you'll be thankful for those times when you can sit in your chair and roll/fold clothes in the air conditioned dorm.
As for BEAST, I was in the Reaper Zone [which is the newest one] and we had air conditioning in our tents. This is not to say that it wasn't hot. The air conditioning units can only do so much and are most effective if you're right in front of them. Even with the air conditioning it still got to be in the 90° range in our tent. It's better than nothing, let me tell you, especially when you're in MOPP gear!
Physical Training (PT) - Due to the heat, we did PT in the early morning, beginning at 0500 and ending by 0600. PT times may vary depending on the time of the year that you're at BMT. After PT, you'll shower before heading to breakfast. Regardless of the early morning schedule for PT, you'll still get nice and sweaty out there!
Humidity - While Texas is humid [well, much more so than Colorado, where I'm from], it wasn't as horrible as you'd imagine. The heat in general is pretty bad, and in full ABUs outside, you'll be sweating - just expect it. I found that Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS, was significantly more humid. Just keep hydrating and know that some days you're going to be peeling clothes off your body. It's especially bad over graduation weekend when you're in your blues. Many of the photos of me during that momentous occasion are marked by attractive, large sweat stains on my blues shirt. :) Fortunately for the females, you'll be allowed to purchase and wear an undershirt while in blues at tech school. I went for a ribbed, men's style tank, and those worked out well for absorbing sweat and keeping it off my blue shirt.
Sleeve Rolling - You've probably seen images of Airmen in ABUs with their sleeves rolled up. Don't get too attached to this idea - the rolling of sleeves is not permitted while at BMT, regardless of the temperature. Even your MTIs will wear their sleeves down. You'll get to roll your sleeves while at tech school [it was mandated for my squadron at Keesler AFB].
Final Thoughts - Remember, you're not the first, nor will you be the last trainee to complete BMT during the painfully hot summer months. Thousands of trainees have gone before you. I had to keep reminding myself of that fact. You WILL make it! Hang in there, keep hydrating, and stay motivated! These 8.5 weeks of discomfort are only a moment of time in your Air Force career. When I look back on my experience, I don't think about the heat and the sweat, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat without hesitation.