Boot camp may not be everybody's idea of a good time, but according to a fine feature story the other day, right here in Washington the Marines have been looking for a few good youngsters--and have been finding scores of super-eager recruits ages 8 to 14 right outside the barracks every Wednesday evening. The Marines are off-duty volunteers who offer a no-nonsense weekly drill in assorted virtues not always attractive to streetwise youth: discipline, courtesy, responsibility, obedience, untiring effort, neatness, exercise and self-respect. And kids are flocking to it.
This is not, by the way, some undercover front for military action; there is no firearms talk or training, or sermonizing about warfare. What the youngsters seem to appreciate is guidance, discipline and attention from adults.
We have a feeling that this program could be more than just an example for young people--that it could be an example for adults in almost every government agency and private firm in the region. So herewith a suggestion for your on-the-job discussion today:
There are all sorts of ways that young and interested volunteer children from the city's schools might serve as interns or observers for an hour or two each week in offices and other work sites around the city. Some employers are doing that already with small groups--say, one to five children-- through informal arrangements. These adults are discovering what school officials have found out over the years--that all sorts of careers are interesting to the children of this city.
So why not establish your own little "Role" program? A call to the office of D.C. School Superintendent Floretta McKenzie (724-4222) or to a principal, a school board member or a parent-teacher association could be the start of something modest but important to the Washingtonians of tomorrow.