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The Young Marines is open to all boys and girls aged 8 through graduation of High School. The program was founded in 1958 to promote the mental, moral, and physical development of young Americans. The Young Marines offer a variety of activities specifically designed to develop greater self-esteem, discipline, and self-confidence in its members. Character building is one of the most important objectives of the Young Marine program and all of its activities emphasize the importance of honesty, courage, respect, loyalty, dependability, and a sense of devotion to God, country, community, and family.
In July 1993, the United States Marine Corps officially designated the Young Marines program as "the focal organization for fulfilling its participation in the Department of Defense's drug demand reduction activities."