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    Devil Pups make the cut

    Devil Pups make the cut

    Photo By Gunnery Sgt. Cristina Bates | A Marine calls out commands to a platoon of Devil Pups as they prepare to perform the...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Cristina Bates 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Approximately 300 teenagers from California, Arizona and Nevada graduated from the Devil Pups Youth Program for America camp at the School of Infantry parade deck aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 30.

    Since 1954, the Devil Pups program has helped teenagers gain self-confidence and leadership skills through mental and physical challenges, teamwork, discipline and education.

    Each year, approximately 600 teenagers are selected to attend one of two Devil Pups camps held each summer.

    Since there are more teenagers interested in the program than there are allocations, participants must undergo a selection process which evaluates their health, physical fitness, character and most importantly, their desire to succeed.

    “The biggest thing we look at [when selecting participants] is a strong desire to complete the program. We don’t want to take someone who would give up easily and want to go home when there are other kids who could’ve filled that spot,” said Dick Taylor, Devil Pups liaison representative in Bakersfield, Calif.

    The rigorous 10-day camp follows the Marine Corps’ structure and philosophies on discipline. Marines volunteer to serve as mentors and share their knowledge and experience with the Devil Pups.

    “Our goal was to break down the individual and build them up by challenging them mentally and physically,” said Sgt. Tyrell D. Hicks, heavy equipment operator, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. “These kids came from different backgrounds and were forced to work together in a new environment. We made it hard for them, but they learned a lot.” Devil Pups endured intense physical training which included conditioning hikes, runs and an introduction to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Marine mentors gave classes on the importance of goal-setting, teamwork, nutrition and other subjects.

    “For a lot of these kids, the liaison representative and the Marine NCOs are their first introduction to the Marine Corps. It’s a very positive experience for most kids,” said Taylor, a former Marine.

    “The exposure to the Marine Corps leadership traits and living by Honor, Courage and Commitment is phenomenal.”

    In keeping with the program’s commitment to making better citizens, Devil Pups received U.S. and Marine Corps history lessons. They also visited the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Command Museum and the USS Midway Museum.

    For Taylor, the most rewarding aspect of the program is seeing Devil Pups’ transition after the 10 days.

    “It’s good to see [the graduates] realize that with extra effort they can come back and run circles around their peers,” said Taylor.

    “You see them stand straighter and taller with higher self-confidence. They become more attentive and engaging in their activity with adults. It’s refreshing to see.”

    Some Devil Pups were forced to overcome their fears and self-doubt when it came to completing some of the challenges, such as jumping off a 35-foot diving board. Many Devil Pups walked away feeling different and ready to take on life’s challenges.

    “I feel like I did change. My self-confidence is very high,” said Jonathan O. Morales, a sophomore at Segestrom High School in Santa Ana, Calif. “The instructors motivated and inspired us and made us feel like we could do anything if we put our mind to it.”



    Date Taken: 07.30.2011
    Date Posted: 08.05.2011 17:33
    Story ID: 74922
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 

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