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thedrifter
09-14-03, 01:59 PM
Young Marines teach kids discipline and self-esteem

Lindsey Collom
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 14, 2003 12:00 AM


Cheerleading was nothing like this.

The kind of physical endurance Cassandra Ismé needed as a cheerleader was a cakewalk compared with her first day of "Boot Camp."

"Push-ups, jumping jacks. By the time I was done, I was wiped out," Cassandra said. "My first day, I wanted to quit."

Cassandra, 11, was referring to her first day of training as a Young Marine, the national youth program of the U.S. Marine Corps. Twenty cadets in the Desert and Firebird chapters graduated from the 26-hour Boot Camp orientation program on Saturday in Glendale.

The orientation introduced recruits to close-order drill, physical fitness, customs and courtesies, military history and rank structure. Cadets will go on to participate in service projects and outdoor activities. They also learn self-esteem, discipline and confidence.

Children ages 8 through high school graduation are eligible for the Young Marines. Many of the graduates said they want to join the military when they're old enough.

"Oh, yeah, I'm gonna be a Marine," said Shaun Dean, 12, dressed in crisp fatigues and shiny black shoes. Shaun's sister, Amber, 10, is also a Young Marine.

The program is not a military recruitment tool, said Joseph E. Bles, inspector general at the Young Marines' national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"All we want to do is help these children become good citizens," Bles said. "What we do is very similar to what the gangs do. The difference is in the end product."

Shannon Gouweloos of Glendale said the program has helped her son, Cameron Walton, 14, in many ways. Cameron is both a Young Marine and a Junior ROTC cadet at Glendale High School.

"He now takes pride in his homework and his bedroom," she added.



Reach the reporter at lindsey. collom@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-7983.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0914marines14.html


The Drifter
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