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young marines organization logo

Structure and Discipline are our foundation but our focus is preparing today's youth for the challenges of being tomorrow's leaders.


To earn and preserve a reputation as a leader in youth development and drug demand reduction.


The mission of the Young Marines is to positively impact America's future by providing quality youth development programs for boys and girls that nurtures and develops its members into responsible citizens who enjoy and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Who We Are

The Young Marines strengthens the lives of America's youth by teaching the importance of self-confidence, academic achievement, honoring our veterans, good citizenship, community service, and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.  The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members.  The program focuses on character building and leadership and promotes a lifestyle that is conducive to being productive members of society.

The Young Marines is open to all youth ages 8 through completion of high school.  The only membership requirement is that the youth must be in good standing at school.  Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings , in 1959, with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown respectively with units throughout the country and overseas.

What We Do

young marines logo
young marines during physical training


Upon joining a local Young Marines unit, recruits undergo a 26-hour orientation program, generally spread out over several weekly meetings.  They learn general subjects such as history, customs, and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure.  After graduating from Young Marines Recruit Training, Young Marines have the opportunity to learn even more skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marines uniform and work toward ribbon awards.  Young Marines earn ribbons for achievement in areas such as leadership, community service, swimming, academic excellence, first aid and drug resistance education. 

young marines at summer camp

Summer Programs

During the summer months, Young Marines have the opportunity to attend the Young Marines National Summer Programs of Adventures, Challenges, Encampments, and Schools (SPACES). Young Marines receive instruction and training in a variety of areas such as wilderness training, water-based activities, aviation, science, leadership and team-building.  SPACES activities are held in various venues across the country and overseas.

The Young Marines of Albany, GA

young marines ribbon racks

Veteran Appreciation

Honoring veterans is not just something Young Marines talk about, it's what they do! Each year, Young Marines from across the country travel to Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor and the home of the Navajo Code Talkers, Window Rock, Arizona to honor those surviving veterans and their families for their historic and dedicated service to the United States.

Every year in November, all Young Marines units participate in Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week, a campaign that challenges our Young Marines to dedicate time to show our country's appreciation and help our nation's veterans in their local communities.

Each Young Marines unit has the opportunity to design their own project that is most fitting in their local community.  Projects might include sending thank you cards to hospitalized veterans, cleaning up a disabled veteran's yard, visiting veterans in the hospital, or simply setting up a community function to socialize with local veterans.  Young Marines reach out to thousands of veterans each year during the one-week tribute.


The Department of Defense has awarded the Young Marines the Fulcrum Shield Award seven times for excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Programs. The award recognizes military-affiliated youth organizations around the world that have made concerted efforts at spreading the anti-drug message throughout their communities.

closing the gate on drugs

The Young Marines “Closing the Gate on Drugs” initiative focuses our drug demand reduction efforts on raising awareness of  common gateway drugs (tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, prescription drugs and marijuana) that are either in homes or neighborhoods and are most often encountered and easily accessed by children and young adults.


We have developed a standardized curriculum that is taught to Young Marines by senior Young Marines, and we have developed product and information packages available to all our Your Young Marines are encouraged to deploy this initiative into their communities to reach out to their peers.

drug enforcement administration

“The DEA first met with the Young Marines a few years ago,” Tammy Simpson, drug prevention program manager of the DEA’s Drug Demand Reduction Section said, “We were so impressed with the Young Marines’ initiative when communicating with peers and others about the dangers associated with using drugs.  We appreciate the Young Marines efforts to educate the community and increase awareness about the drug problem.”

young marine holding certificate

Greetings from our National Executive Director

Young Marines in 1959

The Young Marines of Westchester circa 1959

Since our beginnings in 1959 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the Young Marines of the Marine Corps League has grown to become a recognized youth organization in over 300 communities across the country and in Japan.  In 1965 the Young Marines were chartered by the Marine Corps League as a subsidiary, and so began the Young Marines as we know them today.  Shortly thereafter, girls were included and our non-profit, 501(c)3 status was provided.

Drug Demand Reduction and Education is a focal point of Young Marines.  In 2015 we continued that with our "Closing the Gate on Drugs" materials for training and education wherein the Young Marines teach each other and their peers about that importance.  Our close relationship with the Drug Enforcement Administration helps in achieving that goal.  Further, our work with and for America's veterans is unsurpassed by any other youth organization.  Our goal is to preserve the legacy of our veterans through education and patriotic volunteerism.  Structure and discipline are our foundation, but our focus is preparing today's youth for the challenges of being tomorrow's leaders.

Semper Fidelis,

Col Bill Davis USMC (Ret)

National Executive Director/CEO

OUR Partners & Affiliates

R. Lee Ermey

r. lee ermey

The Young Marines are honored to have actor R. Lee Ermey as its official celebrity spokesperson.  Mr. Ermey garnered worldwide acclaim for his portrayal of Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrik's film Full Metal Jacket (1987)


We are proud of our affiliation with the following organizations:

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