Youngsters finish boot camp

Participants in Young Marines cite program’s benefits
2010-03-16T22:08:00Z Youngsters finish boot campDIANE COCHRAN Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
March 16, 2010 10:08 pm  • 

Being a Young Marine is loud business.

Just ask Ashley Holloway.

“There’s a lot of yelling,” Holloway said. “At first it’s scary, but you get used to it.”

Holloway, 11, was among 23 kids who joined the ranks of the Billings Young Marines on Tuesday night.

The “recruits” were recognized in a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Armed Forces Center. They completed 26 hours of boot camp, which was made up of units on physical fitness, nutrition, military customs, drug use prevention and other topics.

As full-fledged Young Marines, they will participate in leadership activities and community events.

“We have taken the words ‘I can’t’ out of their vocabulary and replaced it with ‘I can,’” said Frank Fritz, commanding officer for the program.

Girls and boys ages 8 to 18 can become Young Marines. The training encourages children to show respect to others, improve their grades and be physically active.

“He’s much more respectful,” Keri Perez said of her 15-year-old son, Jeremy Kindness, who graduated on Tuesday. “Rather than having to ask him 20 times to get his chores done — it’s getting lower.”

Two of Robin Bedford’s four sons graduated in the ceremony. She encouraged Jeremy, 14, and Jack, 12, to sign up after watching a Young Marines leader interact with a student at the school where she works.

“The respect he had for his Young Marine made me cry,” Bedford said. “It was so neat to see that rapport.”

About 55 kids are active in the Billings Young Marines program, which is run by the Marine Corps League. Many more have completed boot camp.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun,” said Jason Burtrell, 11, another new graduate. “You get a feel of what it’s like to protect our country.”

 

Contact Diane Cochran at dcochran@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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