Looking for a few good kids . . .

GALESBURG — Mr. Marcos Sanchez is just looking for a few good kids — about 30, actually.

That’s how many young people he hopes will attend next month’s first “Boot Camp” in Galesburg of the newly forming Spoon River Valley Company of the Young Marines, a national youth organization dedicated to teaching the best values of the United States Marine Corps to boys and girls ages 8 to 18.

Mr. Sanchez, a member of St. Patrick’s Parish in Galesburg, is the company’s commanding officer, or “CO.” He and several other adult members of Galesburg’s Catholic parishes are now gearing up for the Boot Camp on Sunday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 5 p.m. There the company members will be introduced to the program, rules and expectations of the Young Marines.

Assisting Mr. Sanchez in preparations are his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Heather Acerra of Corpus Christi Parish. Mr. Acerra is the company’s adjutant, and Mrs. Acerra will be one of the training officers.

Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Acerra began looking into forming a Young Marines company. The Spoon River Valley Company will be a part of the 1st Illinois Battalion of the Young Marines, based in Deer Creek in Tazewell County.

“I would say the Young Marines are pretty similar to Scouting,” Mr. Acerra told The Catholic Post, but there are differences in structure. The company commander must be a Marine or a former Marine, because the Young Marines are sponsored by the Marine Corps.

Like the Scouts, Young Marines wear uniforms. Their activities include military-style drills. Instead of badges, patches and medals, a Young Marine earns ribbons and can qualify for a promotion in rank.
Though affiliated with the Marines, the group emphasizes that it is not a recruiting tool. Members are not to be pressured into enlisting in the armed services, according to Mr. Sanchez. The majority of the Young Marines do not enlist, but decide to make use of the skills they acquire as civilians rather than soldiers, he said.

Despite their differences, Scouting and the Young Marines both have the goals of instilling virtue in young people and helping them to build moral character.

Galesburg-area parents who would like to learn more about the Young Marines may attend an information and orientation meeting on Sunday, Feb. 8, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at the Grace Anglican Church Parish Center, 151 E. Carl Sandburg Drive. The pastor of Grace Church, Rev. Thomas Janikowski, is the other co-chaplain of the Spoon River Valley Young Marines. Company meetings will be every other Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at Grace Church, and Boot Camps will be held there also.

To learn more about the Spoon River Valley Company, contact Mr. Sanchez at (309) 344-7436 or jjsanchez@grics.net, or Mr. Acerra at (309)351-1981 or acerra12@comcast.net. On the Web, visit spoonrivervalleyyoung marines.webs.com.

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