By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff WriterAugust 16, 2013
SOLOMONS NAVY RECREATION CENTER, Md. - Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Indian Head, Md., gave Navy Teen Council members an "ooh-rah" lesson Aug. 6, by giving the youths an inside look at what it means to be a Marine.
Forty Teen Council members joined 16 teens from the Military District of Washington at the annual Teen Excursion Camp, held this year at Solomons Island Navy Recreation Area in Solomons, Md.
"It's just amazing that I get to be a part of this," said Erica Ramos, Marine Corps Family Team Building LINKS [Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Issues] trainer at JBM-HH. "The Marines are the ones who make it happen for the teens and kids."
Brent Edwards, who coordinates the teen council for the Naval Installations Command, said its goal is to increase and improve communication between Navy teens and Navy leadership; to increase the relevancy of Navy Youth Programs in teens' lives; and to initiate change that will improve the quality of life for Navy teens worldwide.
"These teens are connected in one way, shape or form, either through their basic experience of being on military installations or being connected to the military, whether it's through a Department of Defense employee that happens to be their sponsor or an active duty service member or retiree," he said.
Over the past 18 months, council members identified several issues, the most important one being a lack of representation on the council of teens who live overseas or whose sponsor is a member of the Navy Reserve.
"We now have teens from Guam, Europe and Hawaii on the council," he continued. "We have yet to break into Japan or Singapore, but they are soon to come."
Ramos said the event gave the Marines an opportunity "to provide a legacy to the teens who've never had the opportunity to see what the Marine Corps is all about. Our main goal is to educate teens, kids and military families about the Marine Corps specifically."
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Bailey was one of those Marines who was happy to share the Corps' story with the teens. A member of the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force headquartered at Indian Head, Bailey said he and his Marines were eager to show the teens what they do on a day-to-day basis.
"We're bringing in about 22 Marines to demonstrate what the CBIRF capabilities are," he said.
While at Solomons, the teens got a lesson in flag etiquette, saw the presentation of the colors, learned about Navy medicine and the personal protective equipment worn by the CBIRF.
On Aug. 9, teen council members briefed Navy leadership at the Pentagon on issues of concern to them.
"Mainly, we've been talking about a virtual program, an app, that they're developing to improve youth programs," said Jordyn Merrit, 15, teen council member who represents Navy Region Hawaii. "That's one of the big things that I'm going to talk about. That would be a very helpful thing for the teen centers to be able to organize better and to get the word out about the teen centers and youth centers."
"This experience has been a life-changing event," said Decoyus "DJ" Jones, 17, who represents Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. "I will never forget it. There are so many people you meet and so many leadership skills that you learn that you bring back to your base."
To learn more about the Navy Teen Council, visit the group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NavyTeenCouncil.