By Lisa Pecchenino
Strengthening the lives of America’s youth is the motto of the Snake River Young Marines here in Kuna. In 1958 a group of dedicated U.S. Marines living in Waterbury, Connecticut, wanted to start something for the kids in their neighborhood. They decided to start the Young Marines and teach them the values learned while serving their country, beginning with only a handful of boys and one unit. You could say they have grown over the years to a whooping 240 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, and the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages eight through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.
The only membership requirement is that the youth must be in good standing at school.
The Snake River Young Marines here in Kuna is lead by Unit Commander Bryant Lyndaker, Commander Bear, to friends and fellow Marines young and old alike. Commander Bear is a retired Marine who served his country for 20 years and been involved with the Young Marines for 18 years.
“I’m community minded and it keeps me close to the Marine Corp.,” Commander Bear shared. “I retired, became involved and have never stopped. I don’t care if they get anything out of this group, as long as it keeps them off drugs. If you live by the 14 traits we teach, it will give you the tools to go any were in life.”
Commander Bear believes passionately that the values they learn as Young Marines has a positive affect on them for life.
Upon joining a local Young Marine unit, youth undergo a 26-hour orientation program, generally spread out over several weekly meetings. This orientation program is affectionately called “Boot Camp.” The youth learn general subjects such as history, customs and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure. After graduating from Young Marine “Boot Camp”, the youth have the opportunity to learn more new skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marine uniform and work toward ribbon awards. Young Marines earn ribbons for achievement in areas such as leadership, community service, swimming, academic excellence, first aid and drug resistance education.
Sergeant Aubrea Hahn, 15 years old, replied, “Boot Camp was fun. I was the only female and it was great beating all the guys.”
When asked YMSgt Hahn she wasn’t interested in joining but she enjoyed the Young Marines as it gave her something to do other than sit at home.
For one week in November each year, Young Marine units across the country celebrate Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week.
The purpose of this special week is to challenge our Young Marines to dedicate some of their time to help our nation’s veterans and to demonstrate, through their actions, their sincere appreciation for our veterans’ service to our country.
Unit projects include sending thank you cards to hospitalized veterans, cleaning up a disabled veterans yard, visiting veterans in the hospital, or simply setting up a community function to socialize with local veterans.
Corporal Emily Muro has participated in several events held for the veterans, such as Bingo, marching in local parades, made cards and was a greeter for the VFW 2014 Winter Conference held here in Bosie.
“The Young Marians is not what you would expect,” YMCpl Muro said, “Its a lot of fun.”
During the summer months, Young Marines have the opportunity to attend the Young Marines National Summer Programs: Adventures, Challenges, Encampments, and Schools (SPACES). Schools consist of leadership courses. Adventures have a historical emphasis and are designed with the younger child in mind. In contrast, older Young Marines can participate in Challenges. The challenges consist of training in areas such as survival skills, wilderness training, and water-based activities.
Over 3,000 Young Marines participate in the SPACES programs each year.
The Marine Corps Leadership Traits that Commander Bear mentioned above are qualities of thought and action which, if demonstrated in daily actives, help Marines earn the respect, confidence and loyal cooperation of other Marines and are as follows – Justice, judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, integrity, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty and endurance.
For more information on how to join or volunteer contact Unit Commander Bear Lyndaker at 861-7522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There are two other units located in this area the Gem State in Nampa 850-3725, Treasure Valley in Bosie 590-6493. You can also contact Young Marines National Headquarters P.O. Box 70735 Southwest Station Washington, DC 20024-0735 www.YoungMarines.com
1-800-717-0060 to find a unit in you state.