Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a U.S. Marine? How physically taxing, mentally demanding and hard is it to get into the Marines these days? Me too, and after spending a week at the Parris Island Marine Corps boot camp, I can now see why Marines are considered one of the most elite military forces.
My trip was courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps who have been hosting educators for annual Educators Workshops for more than 30 years. These behind-the-scenes, four-day tours are to give educators an idea of what training, skills and opportunities are provided for students in the U.S. Marine Corps and in branches of the military.
For our workshop in February, I joined 31 Florida, Georgia and North Carolina-based educators, school counselors, administrators and ROTC instructors to get a taste of Parris Island.
From stepping on the iconic yellow bootprints, being assigned a pair of Marine Corps drill instructors and spending the week as recruits, we also had an inside look at the training and skills imparted in our recruits who, after 13 weeks, become full-fledged Marines at the end of the 54-hour crucible and then graduate two weeks later as U.S. Marines. After 10 days of leave, the new Marines head to combat training school and, depending upon their military occupational specialty (MOS), they then head to their first assignment.
Debbie Williams is an art and physical education teacher from Pivot Charter School in Riverview who had the opportunity to attend the workshop.
“This experience is like living a dream, as I almost joined the military,” she described. “I’m so excited to take this experience and share it with my students as they prepare to take the next step after high school.”
Throughout the four-day experience, Williams and 30 additional members of the teacher unit learned to march in formation, eat in the mess hall, rappel down the tower, walk through the gas chamber, do obstacle and challenge courses, meet with recruits at all different stages of their boot camp experience and even shoot M16 rifles on the range. In addition, educators were able to visit the nearby U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, where they saw fighter jets and talked to Marine Corp pilots.
Emma Schindler, calculus teacher at Pivot Charter School in Riverview, loved every minute of the workshop, and she said, “I will take this experience to become a better teacher and add some of the skills to my education strategy for my students.”
During the workshop, educators were put through a training regime but were also given access to base command.
During a briefing with Brig. Gen. Walker M. Field, the depot’s commanding general, he encouraged the educators: “You have an opportunity to make a difference in our future generations. You are here to demystify recruiting. You will learn how we make Marines and transform civilians and to give you the idea of the art of the possible and what you can do with your career.”
Each year, the Marine Corps invites high school educators and coaches to an Educators Workshop at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. Educators Workshop is a program that provides attendees the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Marine Corps boot camp firsthand.
Highlights include discussions with recruits and Marines of various ranks, ranging from newly graduated privates to the commanding general. Attendees will also participate in many of the training events recruits go through, including the rifle range, rappel tower, gas chamber, obstacle courses, leadership and teamwork exercises, Family Day, graduation and time with the world-renowned Marine Corps drill instructors.
Those eligible to attend are current high school educators, coaches, administrators or members of the community who can demonstrate significant mentorship of young men and women through an organization.
For more information on the next workshop opportunity, call or email Sgt. Erin Morejon, marketing and communication representative for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Tampa. She can be reached at 407-375-2509 or email@example.com.