We’ve all heard the slogan, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” But what does it take to become a marine? Asking ourselves this very question, Coach Bouyer and I decided to participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Educators Workshop. The workshops are held at various times of the year, and allow educators an inside, informative look at at what it takes to make a marine. That’s right, marines are made at either Parris Island, South Carolina, if you live either east of the Mississippi or in New Orleans, and in San Diego, of one resides west of the Mississippi River. Along with educators from various parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, Coach Bouyer and I flew to Savannah, Georgia and then were bused to Parris Island.
The Educators Workshop consists of three days of hands-on, experienced based activities. Educators quickly learn the mechanics of squad formation, as our drill instructors oh-so-gently (NOT) reminded us how to form and respond, and the subsequent consequences of sloppiness. One quickly realizes this is not going to be a show and tell experience; it’s show and do, and do many times!
We learned that recruits arrive at Parris Island at all hours of the day and night, and are immediately ordered to the yellow footprints, the first step in the transformation from civilian to recruit. They arrive with only the clothes on their back. No electronic devices (including cell phones or gaming systems) are allowed. Anything brought in, will be immediately taken during the intake process, inventoried and then either shipped back or stored.
Recruits are allowed one phone call home upon arriving to Parris Island. They must follow a predetermined script, and it must be delivered in rapid fashion. Once delivered, the recruit must immediately hang up. If the recruit doesn’t have someone to call, he or she may call their recruiter. There are no deviations allowed from the script.
The transformation from civilian to recruit to Marine takes 13 weeks, and it is a grueling one. The 13 weeks are broken down into 3 distinctive phases, and each session is designed to make them lean, knowledgeable fighting Marines. Recruits are up at 4 a.m. for physical training (P.T.) and their day doesn’t end until 8 p.m. We discovered that recruits attend classes on Marine History, behavior and expectations, formations, and a sundry of other information that will make them peak warriors; physically and mentally. We also learned that the Marines are the first one to arrive in a military crisis, and “they break down the door” so that our other military forces may do their jobs.
In the case of Marine recruitment, life DOES NOT imitate art. Hollywood would have us believe that many select a life in the military when facing a judge for a criminal act and are offered two choices; service in the military or jail time being the second. The marines are a select group, and in fact 75% of most Americans would not make the cut to become a recruit. Recruits must have strong moral character, be in great to excellent shape; however, they will work with recruits to become stronger mentally and physically.
Strength is tested in the Confidence Course. Recruits complete the Confidence Course twice within their time at Parris Island. (I could state with emphatic confidence that I would need a lot more training to make it through. Coach B, however, handled it with ease.) The Confidence Course is designed to challenge all types of body strength.
Next Up: Phase Two