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No evil puppies, just youths going to camp

  • The Devil Pups' logo was designed by Walt Disney, the only logo ever to go outside of Disneyland.

By: Irene Hilsendager
January 26, 2018

Devil Pups sound strange, no, there is no such thing as evil puppies, just a non-profit organization that is designed to help youths gain self-confidence and to accept responsibility for their actions.

This program is not a recruiting organization for the Marine Corps or any para-military group but the Devil Pups is a 10-day camp for challenges, team work and discipline for youths between the ages of 14 and 17.

Clint St. Martin, is the Liaison Representative for Devil Pups and has 11 years in the Marine Corp, but now covers a large area that includes Santa Rosa, Windsor, Rohnert Park, Cloverdale, Sonoma, the Central Valley, Southern Nevada and Washington state; in other words, West Sonoma County to Northern Marin.

This organization is for well-behaved and focused kids that can go out and raise $100. They are not allowed to beg or corral family members or relatives, but have to go out to speak to teachers, mentors and business people by doing something positive in their presentation. This is almost considered a buy-in to the program: it is an incentive not to quit and lose their money. They must respect their country, military and the U.S. flag.

The Devil Pups started in 1954 in Southern California by a retired commander in Camp Pendleton. As of last week 54,000 boys and girls have graduated from the Devil Pups organization. Tryouts are held in May and June and the camp is held during the month of July. The kids are bussed, courtesy of the Airporter, to Camp Pendleton where they will experience a real military life style. The group of boys and girls receive mentorship from both military and civilian leaders.

While at camp, the division will get military haircuts, sleep in real barracks, eat in the chow hall and do the obstacle courses. They will work in the motor pool, learn to swim and jump from a 15-25-foot tower. They will also witness beach landings, learn martial arts and watch the SEALS swim in the ocean near Coronado.

Yes, the Devil Pups’ program is a very demanding program with physical and an academic good citizenship program for young teenagers. The program foundations are intellectual, spiritual, social and physical.

The 10-day program is overseen by the encampment commander and his executive staff. Each platoon is made up of 50 teens, with five male and one female platoon per increment and is carried out by non-commissioned officers, Marine and Navy Corpsmen who give up their leave time to be instructors for the program. Each day sees the teens run, dive and hike along with classroom sessions.

Any healthy boy or girl aged between 14-17 who has a desire to participate must pass a physical fitness test. They cannot have asthma, cannot be on any medication and must have a physician’s medical exam in order to be eligible for a try-out.

No one will be accepted that are gang members, are married, have children, are pregnant, have gang or visible tattoos, have piercings, smoke or do drugs or have a history of cutting or burning. They would automatically be disqualified.

Over 2,000 boys and girls apply for the 600 openings each year. Because of the limited facilities and personnel on base, the Devil Pups can only take 500 boys and 100 girls each summer. The 600 who pass the selection process are split into two, back-to-back 10-day encampments, in early July and the other in the latter part of July.

Before graduation on day 10, the teens must conquer the most challenging obstacle Camp Pendleton has to offer-Ole’ Smokey, the tallest peak on the 125,000 acre Marine Corp base. This is the same peak that new Marines hike to top off the end of their boot camp. After the Devil Pups have hiked the peak, there is a sunset ceremony. The group is given a gift of a challenge coin, with a firm handshake by their instructors. On the final day a graduation ceremony is held with family and friends.

Some of the Devil Pups graduates are Charlie Bergin, NBA forward, Brad Wright, Tom Selleck and Brandon Keary, a retired colonel who is involved with Sonoma County. If more information is desired, contact Clint St. Martin at 707-849-4083. St. Martin is a volunteer fireman and has applied to the California Highway Patrol unit.