Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Camp Lejeune + MCAS New River

Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Camp Lejeune + MCAS New River


This Base Survival Guide on MCB Camp Lejeune is brought to you by my friends Joy Rogers, Amy Burkhardt, and Lacey Green. Joy is a small town southern Belle, Marine wife, and momma of two. She loves getting to support her man as his uniform demands such selfless leadership and very little break in a combat arms MOS. It makes her happy to create a home wherever the corps send them so he has a place to escape and recoup. Somewhere that they can make the sweetest memories as a family seeking to thrive, not just survive. She loves the adventure that this crazy life is, but it's not without it's challenges for the entire family unit! Her military wife life motto…Roger up buttercup! Amy is a Marine wife and mama of three boys! They live out in town in Hubert, so that they could have their little farm. They also homeschool and the kids learn so much from their animals and nature. Lacey is a Marine Corps spouse of 10 years. Their first duty station was in Georgia, then California, and now they've been at Camp Lejeune for almost 7 years. She loves the Marine Corps and everything it has offered her family. They've been able to be 8 hours from their hometowns and all learn to love Eastern North Carolina. After being a stay-at-home mom for 7 years she finally put herself out there and now she works with kids on the autism spectrum. Many will say that there are few opportunities, but there really is a lot once you do the work and put yourself out there!


What's the weather like at this base?

Amazing! There’s nothing like coastal weather. Storms and threats of hurricanes keep things exciting, but for the most part there’s always lots of sun, sand, and a cool breeze to help you enjoy your time on and around Camp Lejeune! There’s beaches in every direction…it’s my favorite place we’ve ever been stationed!

We have a hot humid summer and then a couple months of winter (sometimes.) We have our fall weather show around Christmas time as well. We've had lots of snow randomly!

The weather here really isn't too bad! It is very humid from the months of June to September. But it cools down at the end of September and it's amazing! It's usually sunny everyday! No matter the temperature. It does rain here frequently, so you'll need a umbrella!


What's your favorite time of year there?

Spring! When everything is budding or in bloom! The weather is warm enough to lay out and tan on the beach, but still cool in the mornings and evenings where coffee just tastes so cuddly. The excitement of summer is around the corner, but the intense heat and vacationers aren’t in the way of your good time yet!
I love summer, so for me it's all the time we can spend on the river and at the beach.
My favorite time of the year is October and November time! It's still sunny but it's around 70º in the day!

What's your favorite thing about living at this duty station? 

God made beauty in every direction. So much to do outdoors that helped me thrive in the stress of military life and deployments. The water is how I escape the stress of it all. Kayaking, enjoying a ferry out to an island, or just sipping on a latte while I watch the tide come and go. It’s so peaceful. There’s also such a small town feel surrounding Camp Lejeune where everyone has a tie to the Marine Corps in some way. It’s easy to make friends and invite others to tag along in your adventures to cultivate community. The Southern hospitality of the culture is warm and welcoming and appreciative of those who live a life of service. It’s the only duty station where we truly felt at HOME.

This area has it all, the base itself is all you need. (Even medically) Want some fresh seafood? You have Swansboro and Sneads Ferry. Your food is sure to come right off the boat that day! I love the outdoors, you can hunt and fish on the base with the proper license. Also for us having really good specialty doctors close. We have Duke and UNC. You do have to drive 2.5 hours, but you receive the best care possible. If you have a special needs kid this is the place to be. I love the base living, you always find a few people you just click with and then you have them forever!

We really love the nature and the woods and love to go fishing, hunting and exploring!


What's your least favorite thing about living at this duty station?

Fleet life in a combat MOS means my husband was always in a work up or deployed. I hated that the best months of perfect weather to enjoy all the things we loved always seemed to correlate with field ops. You have to get creative to make time for each other when training keeps them away so much. The community I found and worked to cultivate by always hosting other spouses and their children in our home, helped me thrive despite the loneliness.

My least favorite thing at this point is that there isn't enough housing to accommodate incoming families. Living on base is huge (mainly because of the schools) and you can be waitlisted for some neighborhoods for over 12 months.

I wish that there were more activities for the kids that were indoors that were on base!


Is there anything you wish you knew about this duty station before your PCS there?

There are so many resources to enjoy! We landed back here during the shut down where nothing was being offered to the families by way of support or resources and it was impossible to get plugged into our unit.

Something I wish I knew more about before moving was how to get access to the events happening on base. Our previous base always had things going on and you were in the know. The easiest way I have found to keep up is the base Facebook pages.

The back triangle gate is open 24/7 but Google doesn't recognize that it's open. It's on the 172 highway next to Bear Creek Road. It's a great way to cut through the base if you live in the Hubert or Swansboro area. I use it to get to Jacksonville and my husband takes that gate to get to work!


What amenities are on base? And what are they like? For example: Is the commissary large or small? Well stocked? Pool on base? Parks? How many? Etc.

We lived off base in Swansboro and my husband always enjoys leaving base to get away, so I’m not as spun up on all the amenities as some would be. But, I did love the well stocked commissary, MCX deals, and so many little parks where we’d enjoy playing with our daughter over occasional lunch breaks he’d have. Dunkin Donuts coffee helped fuel so many of our picnic lunches as a family or play dates with friends! MCX newsletters always kept me in the loop with base activities that we could partake in.

So Camp Lejeune has several gas stations (some larger than others.) We have a MCX, if you need it they have it. It also has a decent size food court. In the strip where the MCX is located you also have a barber shop, liquor store, Starbucks, and then the commissary. The commissary is always well stocked, unless it's pay day and you have waited until end of day. If this happens by next business day they've restocked fully. My only complaint is the produce will go bad quickly, other than that this is your best and cheapest place for grocery shopping. All neighborhoods have parks for all age groups, they have the pools that are seasonal.


What tips or hacks would you give a  military spouse who just PCSed to that base?

Don’t listen to the negativity! Camp Lejeune often gets a bad wrap because folks hate Jacksonville…a typical military town with some nice stores to shop at or places to eat, but lots of sketchy neighborhoods and places that are unwelcoming or don’t feel safe. But, that’s pretty much the case outside any military gate. There’s a VAST world outside of Jacksonville to explore! Beaches and incredible history in every direction! Visit every state park, historical site, battlefield you can find on google….you won’t be disappointed! Get outdoors. The east coast is amazing!
If you are living on base make sure you know which school your child will need, as they need a lot of paper work to get them enrolled. But the schools are amazing!
Find a friend within your husbands unit and stay busy.
Every base is what you make it, reach out when you need help. Keep busy and get yourself and your babies out of the house and explore it all. You will not regret it, and get involved within the unit when you can.
I would try to get involved with a couple of your neighbors and see what they're into doing and tag along! It's a really big base so the more that you can get out, drive, and explore the better. You'll get more confident and going places won't seem so scary.


Do you live on or off base? What is/was your experience like?

We lived off base and loved it. It was a 25 minute commute for my husband…we were far enough to “get away” and leave work at work but close enough not to steal much family time due to transit. We absolutely adored our experience as we got plugged into our little town that was always hosting festivals and small town activities. Our little town alone had so many fun things to do and attend that it made it easy to create community among the military by always inviting others to tag alone.

We live off base in Hubert. The neighborhood that I live in is Vista Cay.

We live on base, this is the best option because of family size and the base schools. The schools are fully funded for special education and unfortunately the county school are just awful for this. They can simply just not accommodate because they don't have the funding and resources. Onslow County is very behind in this area.

For on base housing:

Heroes E1-E5

Knox Landing E6-9

Knox Cove E8-E9 and officer housing ( Best on MCAS New River)

For off base housing:




What are your favorite hang out spots on base? Why?

Hospital Point was a nice little quiet corner with some picnic tables and swing sets for the kids. Great place to pack a sack lunch and meet up with friends or just enjoy the beautiful view over looking the water.

We have a sand bar on the New River we've used many weekends. It's great for unit functions, it's safe but small so keeping all the kids together is easy. You can take a grill and food and just make an entire day out of it.

Definitely my favorite spot is the Onslow Beach on base! It has really nice pavilions with showers that you can go wash off after the beach. It's so relaxing and calming to be there.


Did you do a DITY move or military move?

DITY. We’ve moved 10 times and so far we’ve always worked hard to stay in control of our things and make a little extra cash. I’ve never enjoyed the perks of a HHG move or had to experience the horror stories!
Military move, I will never move myself, and we have been fortunate with no lost or stollen items.


Are there any base specific traditions that take place? What is the culture like?

Culture is very friendly and family oriented over all! Most traditions I was aware of were unit or MOS specific. My husband is an artillery officer and there is a big Saint Barbra celebration every year that was so much fun! Also they have host a HUGE ball extravaGOWNza every year that is lots of fun and a great way to find a free ball gown! Lots of opportunities to volunteer if you want to stay active. Volunteer with MCX or the local USO if your unit doesn’t allow many opportunities.

One thing is Base Fest. It has taken place every year, but during COVID. There's also July 4th and they bring in Country artists and have a huge fireworks show! It's pretty great. They also have a huge ballgown giveaway where you can choose a dress shoes and even jewelry.


Are there any base FB pages, bloggers, or accounts/websites people should follow for the base or area?

This is a personal choice, with any Facebook pages there can have drama. The spouse pages can have really good information as well as the specific housing pages for the neighborhood you choose. Wives of Camp Lejeune is a big one! There's also some Jacksonville and Swansboro Town pages that are good to be on.


What is your favorite coffee shop there? Why? What is your favorite order?

Bake, Bottle, and Brew in Swansboro! I loved getting a latte and sitting on the top deck over looking the intercoastal water way. There were always lots of wild ducks and their little brood of ducklings toddling about that were fun to watch. Swansboro is such a lovely place to just grab a cup of coffee and stroll while you read historical signs or take note of all the old homes and the years they were built downtown. It feels like a Hallmark movie with its small town charm and grace! My go to for coffee is a hot white chocolate mocha half sweet!
So Dunkin is right by my work, so I go there most and get a basic Iced Caramel Craze. My other favorite is Port City Java, and I get a frozen black and tan (it is amazing!)


What are your favorite spots for date night?

The Boro! Best shrimp & grits around. Also The Swansboro Food & Beverage Co. has the tastiest shrimp nachos. And Yanah’s is famous for their fried fruit fritters!

Saltwater Grill, it's seafood and located in Swansboro about 20 minutes away and it's on the water. The food is great and they give you tons. We always wind up here even if we say we'll try something new.

Carolina Home and Gardens! It's and event center that also has plants and activities for the family and date night! It also has a huge outdoor nature-based playground they just built!


What are your favorite restaurants? What is your go to order?

The Low Country Kitchen has incredible cheesy crab fries and incredible low country boil. We loved to order the shrimp and muscles boil to go and take it down the road to eat in the peace and quiet overlooking the water.

We love First Watch (brunch) the french toast is to die for! If you want Mexican El Arriero is my favorite.

Old Chicago in Jacksonville is great! We also like Pizza Forno in Swansboro! Chick-fil-A in Jacksonville is always a hit for the kids! It has an indoor play area. There's lots of good food here, you just have to search around!


Are there any fun things to do in the area or close to base like amusements parks etc?

Hammocks Beach State Park is lovely and a fun ferry ride out to the beach. Fort Macon is a historical fort used before the civil war through WWI before it was decommissioned. It has beach access and is the sweetest historical field/beach trip!

There is a aquarium in Atlantic Beach called Pine Knoll shores that is great for a rainy day! Mac Daddy's in Cedar Point is a great place for bowling and mini golf! We also love Zig Zums Kids Museum in Jacksonville great for ages one to six!!

They have rollerskating, laser tag, and water parks in cities about an hour away.


What are some of the things you would put on a bucket list for other military spouses coming to that base?

Kayak the Swansboro waterfront. Visit the USS North Carolina museum in Wilmington. Visit The Moores Creek Revolutionary War Battlefield. Visit Bentonville, a Civil War battlefield. Explore Topsail especially the touch tanks, Sneads Ferry, and Emerald Island.

They also have a turtle rescue that is on Topsail Beach. Kinston has a nature and planetarium that is so much fun! Wilmington also has a lot of great things to do. They also have amazing restaurants and have some kids activities. I haven't been to their kids museum yet but I've heard it's fantastic.


Are there any cities you recommend for weekend getaways? Why? What did you do there?

Wilmington and Beaufort. Both beautiful port towns with lots of history. Wrightsville Beach, it's a beautiful and quiet beach town. If you like more of the busy beach life you can hit Myrtle Beach for a weekend trip.

New Bern is also a really nice place to get a cabin and relax!


Best places or activities for kids? Why?

• Salty Pirate Waterpark on Emerald Island.

• The Golphin' Dolphin mini golf.

• Zig Zums in Jacksonville

• Onslow Beach

Carolina Home and Gardens

Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium in Atlantic Beach

Northeast Creek Park in Jacksonville


Any local festivals/traditions held for the holidays in that area?

Mullet Festival
• Floatillas
• Sunday Summer music nights Main Street in swansboro.
• Humphreys Farm always has fun things going on to enjoy!

Local Recommendations:


Deluxe Day Spa Salon and Waxing

AVEDA Salon and Spa in Jacksonville and Swansboro


Nail Tech

Lovely Nails Swansboro

Color Nails and Spa

AVEDA Salon and Spa in Jacksonville and Swansboro



Skye Bar Salon with Isabel (I have different hair texture, but she also specializes in blondes)
AVEDA Salon and Spa in Jacksonville and Swansboro



Brow a Beauty Boutique

AVEDA Salon and Spa in Jacksonville and Swansboro



Bella Donna Midwifery was AMAZING

I used the OB on base, they were fantastic with my high risk twin pregnancy. They were very much on board with my decisions with this delivery and they even have a maternal fetal medicine Dr., as well as a NICU.



We love Dr. Freedman on base Pediatrics (she's a civilian.) But she makes sure your child's referrals are sent and go where they need to be.
Jacksonville Children's Multispecialty Clinic


Primary Care Doctor

If you have prime you'll be assigned to the Naval Hospital, it's hit or miss but I have a Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Jewell and she is just that, a Jewel.



Swansboro Family Dentistry

Family Dental Care will see the entire family (But Naval has a pediatric dentist now.)



ERSo the closest is the obvious (Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune)

Onslow Memorial Hospital

Novant Health in Wilmington



Academy Animal Hospital, it's walk in but super affordable for all vaccines and surgeries.

Island Pet Cedar Point


Dog Parks

Most all neighborhoods have dog parks with in them.



Swansboro Health & Fitness

The base has a few gyms and spouses are allowed to use them. There are a few out in town but I do not have much information other then they have childcare.


Kids Tutor/Babysitter

Babysitters are usually my friends because I just don't trust anyone with my children.



The CDC on base is good for everyday and then for drop in we have a Giggles, they're amazing and also have discounts for multiple kids and military.



DODEA (On Base) I can NOT say this enough, especially if you have a special needs child, this is where they need to be. Now the school near Carolina Forrest I've heard great things about and any of the local Private schools have really good reviews.




Desiree Sielen Phone: (760) 405-3788



Lejeune Photography (Jenny)

You can find her Facebook page here and her website here!

• Melissa Kessinger Photography

You can find her Facebook page here and her website here!

• Nicole Espinoza Photography

You can find her on Facebook here!




Sweeter Things in Swansboro

Nothing Bundt Cakes

American Dream Cakes


Grocery Stores

Commissary, Aldi, Walmart, Publix, Lowe's, and Food Lion.


Party Rental Company

We have used Onslow Inflatables, they have base access and set up and take down the slide or bounce house you rented.

Tubular Inflatables


Ball Dress Shop

Honestly the Facebook Marketplace and fellow spouses are always selling for great prices and all size ranges.



The base MCX has a place for uniform alterations. As far as dresses for the ball I always find a spouse in my local Facebook group.


Shops + Boutiques

We have a Hallmark store and store in the mall called Shimmer, they're my go to for everything.



Overall I would rate this base at a... (1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)

Joy: 10/10

Amy: 6/10

Lacey: 9/10 



Slideshow Lejeune New River




If you'd like to learn more, have any questions or just want to follow Joy's journey you can find her over at her Instagram pages here and here! You can find Amy on Facebook here! You can also find Lacey on Facebook here.


You can also get a PDF version of this guide here!

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