By Candace Cooksey Fulton

Brownwood Bulletin

After months of planning and work, organizers for the Pecan Valley Young Marines program are ready to roll.

The nationally-affiliated program for youth 8 to 18 (if still in high school) will have an information and registration meeting about the program this Saturday in the large classroom in the top floor of the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom.

“The Young Marines program was established in 1958, and has been an excellent and effective program for girls and boys across the U.S.,” said Roger Rodman, who, with his wife Carrie, is helping organize the local unit. “The program instills a sense of pride, discipline and respect, honor, leadership and obedience — the core values of the U.S. Marine Corps — in youth during a critical time in their lives. The things youth learn in the program are skills and lessons that serve them all the rest of their lives.”

As a unit, Young Marines attend a weekly meeting, and, Rodman said, the local unit has clearance to meet at the Academy of Freedom. If the unit is organized in August, starting in September the first 10 weekly meetings will be “a rigorous boot camp-like training.”

Young Marines have the opportunity to learn skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marine uniform and work toward ribbon awards and scholarships, said Carrie Rodman.

“The Young Marines earn ribbons for achievement in areas such as leadership, community services, swimming, academic excellence, first aid and drug resistance education, just to name a few,” she said.

The information and registration meeting will be at noon, Saturday, at the Academy of Freedom.

“We’ll show a short DVD,” said Carrie Rodman, “and there will be plenty of hand-outs and informational material available. This is really a new program for this area, and there will probably be a lot of questions. We just want the opportunity for kids and their parents to see what a quality program the Young Marines is.”

Each Young Marine recruit will be asked to pay a $200 membership and entry fee, which will cover the cost of certain uniforms, insurance and guide books. After the initial year’s fee, there is an annual renewal fee of $80.