MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. --
The Young Marines program aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River is participating in a weeklong summer encampment starting Aug. 4.
The Young Marines program is a youth education and service program affiliated with the Marine Corps League. According to the Young Marines website, http://www.youngmarines.com, the program promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members.
“The Young Marines program is a free-of-charge program for kids to be around other kids who want to be the best they can be,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Vicente, MCAS New River Young Marines unit commander. “When your kids are in school, you can’t always help what kind of people have an influence on their lives, but here you don’t have to worry about them falling in with the wrong crowd.”
Vicente said the main purpose of Young Marines is to keep children off drugs by educating them and giving structure to their lives.
“It started when a group of retired Marines decided they were fed up with America’s youth heading down the wrong path,” said Vicente. “They wanted a way for kids to better themselves and create a positive atmosphere.”
Vicente said the program has been very successful as well.
“You never hear about a Young Marine getting in trouble with the law or even at school,” said Vicente. “The Young Marines are required to show their report cards to their command, and if we notice a drop, they will be counseled for it.”
Similar to the Marine Corps, the Young Marines are motivated by the prospect of advancement as well as awards.
“My daughter is a Young Marines corporal and has more ribbons than me and never seems to get tired of reminding me,” joked Vicente.
The New River Young Marines will be camping with Young Marines from across the southeast throughout next week.
“During the encampment, Young Marines from different units within 3rd Battalion will come together and do a variety of activities,” said Vicente.
According to their itinerary, the Young Marines will participate in a wide variety of activities from canoeing and scuba diving to rifle and archery marksmanship. They will also participate in various Marine activities like rope climbing, obstacle course and swim qualification.
“The kids are really excited for it,” said Vicente. “They’re going to learn a lot of skills, do stuff they’ve never done before, and they’re going to have a ton of fun doing it.”
Children need to be older than eight years old and have not completed high school to become a Young Marine. For more information on the program or to volunteer to help, visit their website http://www.youngmarines.com or call 910-548-8775.