By Sandy Meyer

The Young Marines national youth organization launched a new unit in Tampa this past October. Unit Commander Lori Staben is proud to introduce The Tampa Bay Young Marines to the area. Staben, who brings a wealth of experience having been the executive officer of a Young Marines unit in Illinois, says she finds the community service aspect particularly satisfying.

When Staben and her three children (all Young Marines) moved to Tampa last August, she was surprised there were no units in Hillsborough County. 

Rather than let the Young Marines slip from her family’s lives, Staben decided to start a unit. She contacted the Marine Corps Forces Reserve unit as well as the Marine Corps League and asked for support. Riverview MCL Detachment 1226 is now the unit sponsor and several Active Duty Marines from the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion are assisting the unit as Training Officers.

“I’m very excited,” Staben said. “It’s all falling together. I have high hopes that the Tampa Bay Young Marines will be a very successful unit, and we measure success by community involvement and kids having fun while learning.”

The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. It promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, self-discipline and promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

The Young Marines is neither a recruiting tool, nor a program for troubled youth. One thing the program is, however, is fun. Many friendships continue into adulthood. There are leadership schools as well as opportunities such as visiting Pearl Harbor; participating in National Code Talkers Day; and joining summer camps for sailing, simulated flying, working at a cattle ranch, exploring the “Wild West,” scuba diving lessons and visiting American historical sites. There are also multiple community service opportunities available for the Young Marines.

The unit meets on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Marine Corps Forces Reserve unit, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 5121 W. Gandy Blvd. in Tampa.

For more information, email Lori Staben at loris5@att.net, call 847-406-9505 or visit www.youngmarines.com.