URBANA, Md. --
To the U.S. Marines, the recruiting process doesn’t stop when they find an individual who is willing and able to serve their country. Marine recruiters work tirelessly at mentoring, counseling, and training their young volunteers until it comes time to attend recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.
As a part of that preparation process, Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-station Rockville took their future Marines, also known as poolees, to Sugarloaf Mountain in Urbana, Maryland, Aug. 20.
Every month, the recruiters host a poolee function, bringing the poolees together for training and instruction. In true Marine Corps fashion, the group will also usually do various callisthenic workouts in the form of a circuit course.
“When poolees return from recruit training, we get their feedback of what was new to them and what kind of struggles they came across, so we can incorporate that into our training plan to help current poolees,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Nicholas Safran, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of RSS Rockville, Recruiting Station Frederick. “Getting them exposed to hikes now means it won’t be brand new to them when they do it in recruit training.”
Many of the poolees felt that the hike was challenging but rewarding.
“I feel like it’s a step up from what we’ve normally done,” said poolee Basiru Garner from Silver Spring, Maryland. “We usually do an initial strength test or a really long workout, but this has a unique vibe to it because we’re in a different environment. It gives us a feel of what past Marines have been through; hiking through rugged land and getting through it.”
The 3.31-mile hike was pressed on during the 84-degree weather, going up and down hills at an elevation of about 1,000 ft. Every poolee carried their own bag that contained one Meal-Ready-To-Eat, two bottles of water, and one sports drink.
“This was my first time hiking, and it was a lot. We had to walk for miles up these hills, but it was so fun being around nature and my friends” said RSS Rockville poolee Auset Baptiste from Trinidad and Tobago.
Marine Pfc. Victoria Lacey, who recently graduated from recruit training and Marine Combat Training, knows from experience how beneficial this hike will be for the poolees.
“It’s different in recruit training because we’re going much faster and wearing heavier packs, but unlike Parris Island, this hike is really rocky and hilly,” said Lacey, who was spending time at home to help in recruiter’s assistance.
During a break in the hike, poolees learned how to eat an MRE, studied Marine Corps history and witnessed the promotion of one of their peers, Brian Copa from Silver Spring, Maryland.
“We do promotions in front of the other poolees to reward their good behavior and initiative,” said Safran. “It also helps motivate some of the other poolees to aid in the recruiting effort.”
This won’t be the sub-station’s last hike. The poolees agreed that it was a unique and enjoyable experience, and gained significant confidence that they can make it through recruit training.