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 building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the
premier youth organization in its Drug Demand Reduction Efforts.
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 approximately 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Japan; with affiliates in a host of other countries.
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 effect on them. It is through these caring adults that Young Marines learn the inner values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment while instilling our corps values of Leadership, Discipline and Teamwork. Adult volunteers are individually screened by the National Headquarters based on background information and recommendations provided with each person's registration.
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.