Boot Camp is the common slang term for the earliest period of basic military training that a prospective recruit receives when first inducted into the military. Though cultural differences in methods are obvious, boot camp is analogous to all nations and their armed forces. In recent decades however, "Boot Camp" is viewed by much of the general public as having unfortunately lost its original essence; and instead become a sinful hotbed for drunkenness, disorder, law-breaking, homo-erotic tomfoolery, and just plain, good, old fashioned shenanigans.
From Antiquity to Not-so-Antiquity
Although its assumed that Boot Camp had traditionally been around since the age of cavemen and even The Big Bang, the first known civilization to formally institute Boot Camp into its training regimen was Alexander the Great. Though he initially had problems getting 10,000 Macedonians together in the same place at the same time, Alexander gave an impassioned speech about the virtues of killing people, ransacking, and making love AFTER war (not instead of). With morale at an all time high, Alexander and his army trained rigorously for what historians estimate to be what was probably the entire morning, if not well into the afternoon. It was also during this time that the first Boot Camp prank was also committed, when Backup Archer Parsander Lysander intentionally defecated in 2nd String Spearman Phil Bruntus's helemt and then told everybody about it later at dinner.
The training paid off, and the ambiguous discipline of Alexander's army allowed them to overcome 5 billion to one odds against the Persians at the Battle of Dry Sandy Area in Middle of Nowhere (323 BCE). The defeated Persians, seeing the value of such a program, wanted to take this "Boot Camp" idea back to Persia to benefit from it themselves. I mean they really wanted to, but they couldn't, because they were all dead.
Boot Camp became more widespread among the armies of the world after the homicidal heroics of Alexander the Great, but nothing really changed in terms of strategy or scheduling until the Renaissance, when the Europeans decided to introduce more training and perhaps more importantly, more fashion into their regimen. Geniuses of the era took part at the request of various governments, with Galileo designing better bunk beds, Adolf Hitler designing sassy uniforms, and Copernicus making nifty key-chains and souvenirs for everyone.
Nowadays, Boot Camp can be divided into three phases (or "booneswaggles" in military jargon).
Phase 1: Induction
Male recruits are brought to the training camp, vie for their favorite color sleeping bag, and assigned a number (either 1, 2, or 14) and divided into groups, occasionally switching numbers so that they can be in the same group with their BFF's. Then they are told to run around the world at least 4 times to build up endurance and sexy thigh muscles. Many recruits do not survive the physical challenge, instead falling victim to the elements, exhaustion, poor map-reading skills, and highway tourist attractions. Female recruits are immediately impregnated.
Phase 2: The Warm Liquid Goo Phase
It is during Phase 2 that recruits actually learn military skills such as hand-to-hand combat and white water rafting. Recruits are frequently tested on these newly acquired skills by their drill sergeants, often violently and without warning. Those who pass sufficiently are allowed to go on to the next phase, while all of those deemed failing are sent to Wal★Mart to get beer.
Phase 3: Graduation
By Phase 3, all female recruits should have given birth to their illegitimate children. If a female recruit has lost her baby (either through misplacing it or gambling), then she must find a suitable replacement to present to the drill sergeants because they get really hungry and need their protein. If the female recruit cannot find a replacement baby, she is sent back to Phase 1 to begin Boot Camp all over again. Male recruits are given a final test of their manhood, which is known as the Extreme Warfare Battleground. If they survive with their life and virginity intact, they are officially a member of the armed forces.
Recently, Boot Camp has gotten a reputation as an institution of vice and gallimaufry; a real donnybrook if you will. Critics assert that Boot Camp has lost its military function and become devoid of the high minded principles upon which it was founded. Proponents of the tradition, as well as historians, cleverly respond by asking exactly what high minded principles the critics are referring too. So far, no one has been able to provide an example, but the political chaos continues anyway.