Molding Marines: Boot camp uncovered

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A drill instructor tells educators to get “off his bus” during the Marine Corps Educators Workshop Tuesday morning. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)

A drill instructor tells educators to get “off his bus” during the Marine Corps Educators Workshop Tuesday morning. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)

Michigan educators go behind the scenes with Marines

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — What goes on during a U.S. Marines Corps boot camp?

Twenty educators from western and southwest Michigan are getting a chance to “peek behind the curtain” of the process during the Marines Corps Educators Workshop this week in San Diego, Calif.

Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin Maynard said the workshop is designed to give the educators and others who have influence over young people a chance to see what it takes to become a member of the United State’s elite fighting force.

“High school kids are coming up to them asking, ‘Hey what should I do with the rest of my life?’” said Maynard, a 2003 graduate of Niles High School. “They are going to their counselors and really looking to them for guidance. It is so an educator can have an informed conversation about the Marine Corps with the kid.”

The workshop, Maynard added, is also helpful in dispelling myths about the Marines Corps.

“The one myth that I hear most often is a lot of people think when you sign up for the military that you leave the next day and go straight to boot camp,” he said. “That is completely not the case. It’s usually six or 12 months before kids in our program even go to boot camp.”

Another popular myth, Maynard said, is that people think the Marines will take anyone.

“It is very difficult to get into the Marines Corps, very challenging,” he said. “We are looking for the people with best mental, moral and physical character.”

Those wanting to enroll must meet a variety of enlistment qualifications. They must be between 17 and 28 years of age and a high school graduate or senior in good standing. Any drug experimentation by a potential recruit requires a waiver. Enlistees also must have minimal police involvement and pass mental and physical tests.

“That’s the type of information we are trying to get out there,” said Maynard, 29.

During the five-day workshop, educators will be exposed to a variety of situations that real recruits will be exposed to, from participating in combat fitness tests to firing M-16 rifles to a bayonet assault course.

Educators will even get to witness the often emotional graduation ceremony where recruits become one of the few and the proud.

It’s an experience that helps recruiters do their job more effectively, Maynard said.

“It is helpful to have someone in the school who has been there and can vouch for the recruiter,” he said. “That way the kids know the recruiter isn’t trying to sell something to them — they are going out there and speaking the truth.”

Maynard said the week often has a profound impact on those who participate.

“Usually that last day you will see educators crying at graduation. They will have a totally different perspective and that’s what you want from their experience so they can point kids in the right direction.”

Michigan offers the all-expense paid workshop to educators once per year.

“It really goes to show how important this program is just to keep it around even thought budgets are tight,” he said. “It’s an effective program and we are happy to do it.

“It’s really opened a lot of doors for recruiters in the schools.”

Look in the Niles Daily Star for continuing coverage the rest of the week.