More than 600 young men and women interested in joining the Marine Corps from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas gathered at Camp Ripley for the Marine Corps Recruiting Station Twin Cities 2014 Mini-Bootcamp, April 25-27.
“The purpose of mini-bootcamp is to educate young people about the Marine Corps and some of the things that we do,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Kruse, the assistant staff noncommissioned officer in charge of RSS Bloomington. “It also helps them get a taste of what bootcamp is like, so they can mentally and physically prepare for what lies ahead if they choose to become a United States Marines.”
As soon as the poolees and guests arrived, they were greated by drill instructors the moment they came off the bus.
“My favorite part of mini-bootcamp was the drill instructors,” said Patrick Douin, a poolee recruited out of RSS Bismarck, who is currently a senior at Minot High School. “The physical training is really tough, but you get used to it. But the drill instructors test you mentally. Most of the poolees and guest have never been screamed at like that before. It’s kind of a wake-up call, but it really makes me look forward to going to bootcamp this summer.”
Later that day the guests and poolees conducted an initial strength test, where they performed crunches, pull-ups and a mile and a half run. This gauges their level of physical fitness and lets the recruiters know where they are at and what they need to improve upon.
The next day consisted of a variety of training events. Poolees and guests executed a combat fitness test, disassembled and reassembled M16A2 service rifles and learned a variety of approaches to physical fitness.
“This has been a great experience for me,” said Megan Schneider, an Officer Candidate School selectee. “Performing each of these tasks under pressure has helped me prepare myself mentally before I attend OCS.”
One of the most popular events at mini-bootcamp was the obstacle course.
“The obstacle course is different because it lets you take on challenges that you don’t get to see in your everyday life,” said Cheyenne Losey, from spring valley Minnesota, who is part of RSS Rochester. “You get a great feeling every time you succeed in getting past each of the obstacles.”
For some of the poolees and guests, mini-bootcamp represented many months of hard work and dedication.
One of the poolees, Anthony Sura with RSS Duluth, lost 43 pounds in order to make weight requirement to join. Another, Derek Maass with RSS Rochester, was so determined to get to the weekly physical fitness functions that when he moved away from RSS Rochester, he would bike the 50 mile distance once a week, just to work out with the Marines.
“Being part of the delayed entry program and training with the Marines has meant a lot to me,” said Maass. “I have taken a lot of what I’ve learned here and put it into use in my everyday life. I walk with more confidence and feel I can accomplish anything asked of me."
The next day mini-bootcamp concluded with a hike in the rain.
“I think mini-bootcamp pushed them out of their comfort zones and showed them that they can succeed,” said Kruse. “My intent is that this will shed light on what an amazing opportunity it is to become a Marine as well as build the self-confidence in them to overcome any obstacle in their way.”