PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — Teachers got a firsthand feel for boot camp training Thursday.
Where Wednesday's portion of the educators workshop had a lot of classroom time, Thursday's was much more hands on. The teachers were shuttled around the island to various stations such as a martial arts demonstration, obstacle course, swimming at the combat training tank, simulated firing range and the Crucible — the ultimate test of every recruit's mettle.
The instructors also toured the Marine Corps museum and were able to witness the Family Day ceremony, where families see their new Marines for the first time in 13 weeks.
At the ceremony — and during the motivation run down Boulevard De France earlier in the morning — many of the teachers got caught up in the moment and began cheering and taking pictures.
Fitted with football helmets and hockey gloves, the teachers wailed on one another with pugil sticks during the combat-training demonstration. Several came away from the hand-to-hand combat with battle scars, which elicited roars of approval from their counterparts.
Then they moved on to the Crucible obstacle course, where the teachers were divided into teams and had to work together to get across a tire swing. Then they were given a scenario and had to work their way across from one ramp to another several yards away without falling into a pit.
Ville Platte (La.) High School football coach Jorie Randle said the tasks were hard enough for his fellow adults running on ample sleep. He said he couldn't imagine what it must be like for recruits who must complete the courses on as little as four to eight hours of sleep over a 54-hour span.
"I kept that in mind with everything we did today. When we did the teamwork stuff and tried to get over the bridge, I'm thinking in my head if these guys have been up for three days, how can they comprehend or put a plan together under duress and fatigue?" he said. "It's hard to wrap your head around that concept. I know some kids who couldn't do it — I know some adults that couldn't.
"It was a hard task today."
The first stop of the day was with certified athletic trainer Josh Duplessis, who helps to keep the recruits up and running.
Just in participating in a few courses, teachers came away with jammed fingers and slight cuts. Duplessis said in order to keep the recruits in action, his staff treats them like athletes with short and intense physical training sessions. He said the recruits run only about 32 miles during their whole time on the island.
That's less than it was before 2007, he said, and the recruits still suffer acute injuries from time to time but fewer chronic injuries.
"Those overuse injuries we used to see back in the day, that started to go down a little bit," he said. "With our mileage decreasing, we have seen time loss from training decrease."
The educators workshop concluded for the day with a family meal at the Lyceum.
There, the teachers were able to listen as Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds addressed the families of the recruits who'll graduate today.
Reynolds joked that many of the recruits must seem 3 inches taller because of how proud they are to have completed the Crucible. She thanked the families and gave them an overview of what they can expect now that they're Marine families. She said she couldn't guarantee their children would always be out of harm's way but that they have received — and will continue to receive — the necessary training to be successful in whichever field they end up in upon graduation.