Commanding officer Sal Blydenbergh welcomes interested parents and children to Camp White Young Marines’ orientation on June 28. Beginning at 10 a.m., the event takes place at building 243 on the campus of Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City. "This isn’t an organization you ‘join’ like Boy Scouts, or 4H club," Blydenbergh explains.
Young Marines, age eight through 18, go through boot camp, "but without
the vices or the swearing.," he says. Boot camp lasts from 9 a.m. to 2
p.m. for 12 Saturdays. "Our main purpose is to build better citizens,"
says Blydenbergh, who asserts he’s never met a bad child. "We teach
them to respect themselves, by doing the right things."
they pass boot camp, the kids remain in the Young Marines program for a
variety of valuable activities. The fire department, police department
and swat team visit, and provide training. Young Marines also learn
martial arts, quelling fires, and drawing escape plans to rescue their
families from flames. After boot camp, they’re eligible to go to
encampments. Down the road, they may undergo adventures such as scuba,
aviation school, survival skills, glacier climbing, or leadership
training. Some get to visit the U.N. in New York City.
War Marine Corps veteran Blydenbergh said one of their honors
graduates had originally come to them with failing school grades. "He
ended up with A’s and B’s, and wants to become an officer in the U. S.
"We have 68 enrollees in our unit now,"
continued Blydenbergh. "Those kids are my life." All participants
perform 50 hours per year in community service. "We’ve cleaned trash
from roadsides and cemeteries. We’ve planted flowers in parks. We’re
currently building an obstacle course across from building 243. It’s
Staff receives training a couple of times a year, and constant schooling approved by the FBI out of Washington.
patriotic, Blydenbergh is saddened by the indifference to our nation’s
colors he sometimes observes among spectators at parades. Our Young
Marines learn to honor their country’s flag, and those who defend it,
He hopes the public will come and learn more about the organization at the orientation.
By F.C. Blake
Of the Independent