By YM/GySgt Micenna Brooks Etowah Valley (GA) In the Young Marines there are three leadership schools we have the opportunity to attend as we progress in rank. On the last week in June, forty-nine Young Marines traveled across the country to meet up in Oregon in order to attend the last of the three leadership schools. Many of us had met at different Young Marine events in the past and spent the bus ride from the Portland airport to Camp Rilea catching up. On the first night my fellow Advanced Leadership School students and I learned that our Academy Director was none other than former Young Marine of the Year (2004-2005) and current Director of the Young Marine Alumni Association, Mr. Edgar Huff.This academy was historic, because it was the first academy directed by a Young Marine Alumni. Throughout the first week we all had our share of challenges and along with those challenges came many different lessons. Some of those lessons where harder to learn than others but we had some amazing teachers both adults and current Young Marines. All of them taught us a different lesson that was not planned but those lessons are the most memorable. One thing that I know, we all saw was a very strong team of Young Marine leaders who made us want to be better leaders. The first seven long,and exhausting days where full of motiva- tion, inspiration, teamwork, and had turned us into different people. As June ended and July began, the forty-nine of us Advanced Leadership School students and our instructors had become a close family that would have to split up into two different teams so that we could train the Junior and Senior Leadership School students who came to learn. I must say all three lead- ership schools where motivated. We could hear echoes almost every time we were sounding off. Nearly two hundred and fifty Young Marines sure can make some noise! We took every opportunity to get to know as many differ- ent members of our Young Marines family as we could. The students of the different schools fed off of each other’s energy and motivation. Something else we did was inspire,motivate, and learn from each other. Every time someone wanted to give up because the obstacle was too high or we were too tired to continue someone was there showing us that none of us were alone and if we failed it was just another lesson to learn and we could get back up and try again until we succeeded. Being with so many different people from different back- grounds showed me that no matter what a person goes through they have something to teach you if you are willing to learn and be your best. One thing that my eyes were opened to is that everyone has their issues but if you can come together as a team, you will not only be able to achieve wonderful things and move mountains, you will grow and change lives. By YM/Cpl Delaney Miller Macomb County (MI) I attended Division 5 Ju- nior Leadership School (JLS) in Greenville, Michigan. The days prior to my ar- rival were hectic and scary. I didn't know what to expect. When check in came about,I felt sick. My face was bright red and I was scared that I wasn't motivated enough or that I was going to slip up. The first day we were meeting every- one. By the end of the day, I felt a little relieved but I was still tense. The next day was hard. Getting up at 05:00 and then finding out you woke up late is the worst. All I could think was how could I get through this (but most kids were saying the same thing), so I had to throw some positivity at everyone. It was hard trying to be positive all week. More then likely we were super tired and sore from all the physical training. We faced multiple challenges throughout the week as well. As graduation started to get closer, the week started to get easier. You knew what to expect, which was usually the unexpected. Friendships were made and ev- eryone was getting along as if we've know each other for years. Then graduation day ap- proached.I had the last firewatch shift and I was exhausted. I felt a sense of sadness that day. We didn't think we were going to make it without each other. All my hard times and my giving up was with these great Young Marines and they pushed me through it. Through the pain, struggle, and giv- ing up. I didn't think I could ever meet people like this, but I had. As the Young Marine First Sergeant was calling off our names I couldn't help but to cry a little inside. Eventually, she called mine. I was more nervous then anything. I was afraid I was going to forget what we practiced (and like me, I did). Then the other awards were handed out (including perfect PFT and Most Mo- tivated). Then it came down to Honor Graduate. I was so scared I wasn't go- ing to make any of it and then they an- nounced, “Congrats, Young Marine Cpl Miller”. I've never been so excited in my life, but as Young Marines we have to keep our bearing and that's exactly what I did. After graduation, everyone would congratulate me on my accomplishment, but one thing I forgot to tell them was thank you. Without my fellow Young Ma- rines, being Division 5 JLS Honor Gradu- ate would have never been possible. As I was leaving, I was asked if I would do it again, I said, "Yes, that was one of the most challenging things I've had to ac- complish, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world." “One of the Most Challenging Things I’ve Had to Acccomplish” Advanced School: “You Will Grow and Change Lives” THE YM LEADERSHIP SCHOOLS: JLS • SLS • ALS 20 YOUNG MARINES ESPRIT Online