Motto "Strengthening the Lives of America's Youth" Mission The mission of the Young Marines is to positively impact America's future by providing quality youth development programs for boys and girls that nurtures and develops its members into responsible citizens who enjoy and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. Who we are The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character, lifestyle. The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps' Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts. Membership The Young Marines is open to all youth ages 8 through completion of high school. The only membership requirement is that the youth must be in good standing at school. Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings, in 1958, with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 240 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries. Training Upon joining a local Young Marines unit, youth undergo a 26-hour orientation program, generally spread out over several weekly meetings. This orientation program is affectionately called "Recruit Training." The youth learn general subjects such as history, customs and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure. After graduating from Young Marines "Recruit Training", the youth have the opportunity to learn more new skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marines 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. Our Volunteers Young Marines units are community-based programs lead by dedicated adult volunteers. Many of these volunteers are former, retired, active duty, or reserve Marines who believe passionately that the values they learned as Marines had a positive affect on them. It is through these caring adults that Young Marines learn the inner values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Adult volunteers are individually screened by the National Headquarters based on background information and recommendations provided with each person's registration. Awards The Young Marines is the proud four-time recipient of the Department of Defense's Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Programs. The award recognizes military-affiliated youth organizations around the world that have made concerted efforts at spreading anti-drug messages throughout their communities. The first award was presented to the Young Marines National Headquarters and the second to the Bakersfield Young Marines unit in California. National Programs During the summer months, Young Marines have the opportunity to attend the Young Marines National Summer Programs of: 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. Challenges consist of training in areas such as survival skills, wilderness training, and waterbased activities. Young Marine Encampments provide the opportunity for Young Marines of all ages to gather together and train as a large unit of up to 700 youth at a time. Over 3,000 Young Marines participate in the SPACES programs each year. Official Celebrity Spokesperson The Young Marines are honored to have R. Lee Ermey as their official celebrity spokesperson. Mr. Ermey garnered worldwide acclaim for his portrayal of Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's film, Full Metal Jacket (1987). Ermey is the host of the History Channel's hit show, Mail Call. The Official Mascot Chester, the puppy bulldog, is the Young Marines official mascot. Chester enjoys all the benefits of Young Marines membership such as the opportunity to earn rank and ribbons, wear the Young Marines uniform, and a free subscription to the Young Marines Esprit magazine. Chester sometimes even makes guest appearances at unit meetings, graduations, and training conferences.