Plenty of young people are going back to school, but at one place in the Low Dountry, they're learning important lessons in an unusual way. They're getting a taste of boot camp on Parris Island this week, thanks to the Young Marines program. For four days, youngsters eight to 18 from the Young Marines unit in Palm Beach, Florida, are learning what it takes to be one of the few and the proud.
Participant Jeffery Salazar described the experience, saying, "Getting yelled at by drill instructors, doing pushups, rushing in and out, waking up at five in the morning."
Although these Young Marines come to Parris Island for a taste of boot camp, many leave with confidence.
"It gives you confidence in yourself, like if you can't do it, they teach you how to do it, you get to move up ranks," said Young Marine Michael Capriglione.
These kids are among 14,000 throughout the nation. Although only a small percentage of these Young Marines actually become Marines, many say the program builds character.
"I've learned a lot about leadership, that's the main thing, working with kids is like the best part of it," said Jeffery Salazar.
"It's fun because you actually get a taste of what Marines do and it helps you more throughout life," added fellow Young Marine Sergine Brutus.
But for those like Jeffery Salazar, who has been a Young Marine for seven years, this program helped him decide on a career in the Marine Corps. "I'm going to go two years, then transfer to Florida State to the ROTC program, after that go to officer's training school in Virginia," he said.
The Young Marines program began in 1959. Now there's nearly 240 units in the United States, many of which visit Parris Island.