Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Devil Pups

[Honor Pup Colton on left on top of Old Smokey]

Utah Dixie Detachment's 2009 Devil Pup program accomplished its 10-day odyssey with flying colors. We added some new steps in our selection process this year, and they paid large dividends. First, we determined that the Detachment would support each Pup with a portion of the cost of the program. The balance would be developed by each Pup by participating in car washes and other fund-raising chores. The result? Each successful Pup candidate produced one-third of his total cost, the Detachment providing the remainder.

Another innovation this year was that each Pup was assigned a "mentor" from among our Detachment members to guide the candidate and prepare him for the realities of Devil Pup camp. My deepest appreciation is expressed to these Marines. They took an interest in their young man and brought him along. The program experience? Judge for yourself:

- An all night bus ride with sunrise in the McDonald's parking lot in Barstow.

- Heightening tension in the bus as we drew nearer to Camp Pendleton.

- Arrival at the "reception area" where paperwork is inspected for contraband, our Pup Escort Marines (who all look angry and disappointed at our "sloppiness") organizing us into squads and platoons.

- Standing in long lines, at the position of attention, awaiting tonsorial suicide (aka high and tight, skin head haircut), issuing gear, assigning racks . . . all at a speed much too slow for our Escorts.

And that's just to get started. There were classes in leadership, motivation, personal goal setting and citizenship. There was practical application in some of the leadership exercises experienced by Marine Recruits as part of "The Crucible" training which they receive in boot camp. Then there was the "Training Tank" (aka swimming pool) exercise in jumping from various heights into a 23 foot-deep pool - for some Pups, the first real "gut check" they've experienced. Endless hiking and marching.

On Thursday evening of the second week was the easy stroll up San Onofre Mountain (aka "Old Smokey") resting invitingly at 1,725 feet above sea level and surrounded by boot-sliding, finger scratching, sweat soaking fire breaks, this the site of the awarding of the "Devil Pup Challenge Coin" to each successful Pup. The assurance that they've "made it," they're Devil Pups (a realization creating a variety of tension releases) produced wide smiles, buddy hugging, tear-duct testing and a tremendous dose of personal accomplishment.

The Devil Pups mission is to challenge, educate and help young boys and girls of all backgrounds learn self-confidence and responsibility for their actions. We strive to develop in young men and women, ages 14 to 17, qualities of good citizenship, self control, confidence, personal discipline, teamwork and respect for others, their family and their country. Congratulations to Colton on obtaining recognition as Honor Pup. Only 12 Pups are selected from the entire increment (300 Pups) for this honor. He's made me, our Detachment and his family very proud. St. George has now had an Honor Pup in two of the past three years. Ooorah!!
Bill Toole, SoUtah Devil Pup Liaison