The Devil Pups Program is a demanding physical and academic good citizenship program for young teenagers. It is important to mention that the program is more mental than physical; reflecting the ‘whole person’ concept. The program foundations are intellectual, spiritual, social and physical.
The 10-day program is a combination of outdoor physical exercises, inspirational classroom lectures and demonstrations of Marine Corps operations. The activities during both increments are overseen by our Encampment Commander and his executive staff (employees of Devil Pups, Inc.). Oversight of each platoon of 50 teens (5 male platoons, and 1 female platoon per increment) is carried out by non-commissioned officers (Marines) and Navy Corpsmen who give up their “leave time” to be instructors for the program. Each day, the running, diving, and hiking exercises are balanced with inspiring classroom sessions with people like: Charlie Bergin who was a teenage Marine at the Battle of Iwo Jima; and former NBA forward Brad Wright, who credits Devil Pups with turning his life around after flunking the 8th grade. Our “Role Model” classroom segments are conducted by an assortment of board members, veterans, and Devil Pups alumni.
Before they can graduate on Day ten, they must conquer the most challenging obstacle Camp Pendleton has to offer…Ole’ Smokey. It’s the tallest peak on the 125,000-acre Marine Corps Base; the same peak that the new Marines hike to the top off at the end of Boot Camp. In a sunset ceremony on the mountain’s summit, they are officially christened as Devil Pups with the gift of a challenge coin, awarded with a firm handshake by their instructors. On the final day of the camp, we hold a graduation ceremony that friends and family are invited to. We hear stories every year from parents that couldn’t believe the positive change they saw in their child when they picked them up at the graduation. One parent told us, “We sent our son to you as a child with a dream. You returned him to us as a young man with a purpose. What more could a mother wish for her son?”
As one Devil Pup put it: “I arrived at Camp Pendleton with an attitude and was convinced I would come back to civilian life just the same as how I left. When I graduated, I was changed and saw how I was throwing my life away just to impress the people I didn’t even care too much about. I realized that putting the welfare and needs of others first is more admirable than showing off to get attention. I saw in Corporal Soliz [my instructor] a man who committed himself to “God, Country and Honor.” I am convinced he saved my life too. Corporal Soliz is a hero and I will never forget him as long as I live. Sincerely, Brendan Kearney” (A Sonoma County Resident). It’s testimonials like this that motivate us to keep doing what we’re doing.
Over 2,000 boys and girls apply for our 640 openings each year. Because of the limited availability of facilities and personnel on-base, we can only take 520 boys and 120 girls each summer. We take teens from California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, but primarily serve the Southern California Community. We have graduated 53,832 Devil Pups since 1954.
The Sonoma County Devil Pups offer a comprehensive year-round program for teens to experience the motto “Growth Through Challenge”.
For more information, visit: www.DevilPups.com. or contact: Clint St Martin, President Sonoma County Devil Pups at 707-849-4083.