Jeremiah Duggar of ‘Counting On’ Is Encouraging People to Attend a Conservative Boot Camp With Some Pretty Strict Rules

Anyone who follows the Duggar family knows they adhere to some pretty strict rules. All of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s kids are homeschooled, dancing is forbidden, unchaperoned dates aren’t allowed, and couples stick to a no-kissing-before-marriage policy. While some of the older kids in the Counting On family have loosened up a bit as they’ve started families of their own, the younger Duggars still stick to mom and dad’s conservative dictates. 

Want proof? Jeremiah Duggar, 21, recently took to the family’s Instagram account to urge people to sign up for a conservative Christian boot camp. 

Several of the Duggar boys have attended the boot camp

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In the post, Jeremiah extolled the virtues of ALERT Academy. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s something of a right of passage for the Duggar boys. Several members of the family have attended the program, which is dedicated to “forging extraordinary men who influence their world for Christ.” 

ALERT’s basic training course “uses a military structure to teach you discipline,” Jeremiah explained. Follow-up phases allow participants to specialize in skills such as aviation and diving or train to be an EMT. 

Last year, Jason and James completed the ALERT program, the family announced on Instagram. Joseph and Josiah Duggar also went through the basic training sequence, Michelle shared on the family’s blog in 2016. 

“My brothers and I definitely recommend this program to help you grow physically and spiritually,” Jeremiah wrote. “Learn skills that you can use wherever God takes you!”

The program has some very strict rules 

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Given the Duggar’s strong conservative beliefs, it’s not a huge surprise participants in ALERT have to agree to follow some very strict rules. 

Young men who sign up for the program (which is not open to women) can only listen to “hymns sung or performed in a more traditional style, rich in melody and subdued in background rhythm,” according to a “Standards Agreement” on the ALERT website. Classical music is also allowed. Tattoos are “highly discouraged” and must be covered. People with ink that can’t be covered probably won’t be able to attend. 

Basic training participants — who must all be 17 or older — aren’t allowed any communication with women outside their family. In later stages, a participant can only correspond with his girlfriend if he has written permission from his and her parents. 

A statement of faith on the ALERT website offers more insight into the program’s values. It outlines strong anti-LGTBQ beliefs and condones corporal punishment for children, among other things. The program is associated with the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the controversial ministry the Duggars have been associated with. 

Some Duggar family critics think ALERT is a ‘reeducation’ camp

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ALERT presents itself as a training program that will prepare people for careers as an EMT, firefighter, or the military. But some critics suspect it might be more of a “reeducation” camp. A few have even believe they saw changes in Josiah’s personality shortly after his time at the boot camp. They theorize that Michelle and Jim Bob sent Josiah to ALERT to tame his rebellious ways. Duggar family watchers also think it’s interesting that some of the boys don’t appear to have attended the program, including John David and Jeremiah’s twin Jedidiah. 

Whatever the true purpose of ALERT, the Duggars strongly endorse it, with Michelle writing in a blog post that it helps “young men to draw close to God and to become diligent, conquer laziness, anger and to set goals for the future.” 

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