PARRIS ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA: East Brunswick counselors rappelled off a tower, ran through a gas chamber, swung on ropes, climbed walls, worked together with their teams to solve problems, and shared the joy of parents meeting their new Marines on Parris Island today. Mirroring the structure of the Parris Island Marine recruit program, the Educators' Workshop focused on teamwork with a focus on problem-solving and trust-building.
The day began with civilian trainer Vince Mancini's affirmation that it was the Marine Corps' goal to build "strength from the core" so that recruits were prepared to meet the physical challenges of combat. "Strength from the core" applies to many things here on Parris Island. It not only means "knowing how to use your body" as Mancini says, but also how to use the USMC's core beliefs as a source of strength and trust. In a comment echoed by one of the Parris Island chaplains, "Recruits need support because their former lifestyles did not allow them to grow."
East Brunswick High School counselors Lauren Rice, Vanessa Amaturo, Lisa Nelson, and Bethany McAnneny were a team today, working together to support both themselves and other educators in a myriad of challenges faced by Marine recruits. They rappelled off a tower, climbed walls, swung on ropes, walked through a gas chamber, dragged "dead" bodies, and cheered on both parents and new Marines on Parents Day. As a group, they were praised by Staff Sergeant Robert Haywood, Operations Chief for Outreach, who said they were the "best group for engagement."
Haywood hoped that the counselors would bring back "a feeling of hope" to their students. He said that he "hoped that the counselors now had a tangible sense of what they are talking about when they discuss a commitment to the military with their students."
Following the traditional run of the graduating recruits, he events of Parents Day began with the naturalization ceremony of 15 recruits as new citizens of the United States of America - on the same day they became Marines. Recruits hailed from the Dominican Republic and the Phillippines, Venezuela, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Ecuador, Jamaica, South Korea, Costa Rica, and Nigeria. They were joined by some recruits who had been homeless or who lacked families of their own. These recruits were supported by the SAM (Stand Alone Marine) program that provided adopted families for Marines who needed them.
The rest of the day was an active one for Nelson, Amaturo, McAnneny, and Rice who each participated in every element of the Marine Corps obstacle course. They scaled walls, heeding the Marine mantra: "The louder you scream, the easier it gets." They learned about and used skeletal strength
to support muscular strength. They also learned to work together as a team, gaining a renewed sense of purpose and team as Counselors at EBHS. Said Rice, "I have the best co-workers and this experience has helped us to be a better team than ever."
Lisa Nelson also credits her confidence to the support she received from her teachers and friends at Crossfit Barbending in East Brunswick: "They encouraged me to try even the most difficult tasks," Nelson said.
The day also included some shopping and a trip to the Parris Island Museum, but the center of the day's activities centered on team-building, trust, confidence, and the joy of exertion.