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'Devil Pups' camp teaches teens discipline

July 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Marines aren't the only ones training at Camp Pendleton this summer. Hundreds of teenagers are there taking part in a special summer camp that teaches them discipline and teamwork.Martin Tessier, 17, takes the plunge, a 35-foot jump from a tower into a pool at Camp Pendleton.

More than 300 girls and boys between the ages of 14 and 17 are attending Devil Pups, a 10-day summer camp. Many say it is the toughest challenge they've faced so far in their young lives.

"It's pretty strenuous. PT and mentality and all that," said Tessier.

For some, the challenge of taking the plunge is too much.

"The high dive right there off the 35 -- if you think about it, you're going to fail. You don't think. Do what the instructor tells you, you'll be good," said Tessier.

The Devil Pups began in the 1950s, teaching structure and discipline, training much like Marines do.

"We also march around, do drill. We learn how to use our manners talking to people: 'yes, sir,' 'no, ma'am.' We basically teach them how to walk, talk and basically be disciplined," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Collins.

Some have dreams of a military career.

"I'm getting confidence. I'm learning how to be a Marine. I actually want to be a corpsman so this is helping me prepare for the future," said 16-year-old Kaitlin Sutter.

Others are here to test themselves. Sidney Sim does not swim.

"Well, I'm really nervous. But all the others are jumping it, and they're all OK," said Sim.

Sim completes the task, a confidence-booster.

The program teaching teamwork, respect, structure and discipline, life lessons, extends past the summer camp.


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