Terry Lewis and his brother-in-law, Martie Goodwin, created The Green Boys last September. Since then, approximately 13 members have joined the organization. The Green Boys' goal is to teach youths to be polite, while at the same time allowing them to have fun.
"We started The Green Boys for the kids so they would have something to do," said Lewis, who is the drill instructor. "This is a place where kids can have fun and learn to be responsible."
Lewis said The Green Boys does mirror the military. The boys are given military ranks based on their performance on tests, which are also similar to tests given in the military. The boys are tested on general science, mathematics, social studies, history and general knowledge. The higher the score, the higher the rank, he said.
The Green Boys' ambition is to get 20 kids enrolled, Lewis said. His father, who served in the military, helps Lewis, and his uncle, who also served in the military, plans to help next year. Also, 16-year-old Andy Lane of Jackson, a JROTC member, serves as squad leader for the organization, Lewis added.
Monthly meetings are held on the first weekend of the month and last from Friday (after school) to Sunday. Usually the boys go camping and participate in several activities.
The boys are provided with three meals each day and are required to wake up at 4 a.m. and do exercises, like jogging, until 7 a.m. Lewis admits the boys don't particularly care for getting up at four in the morning, but they do it anyway.
Activities take up a lot of the weekend. Some of these include playing paint ball, nature hiking, swimming, camping and running an obstacle course. The obstacle course includes a wall to climb, tires to run through, a tight rope to walk and a barbed wire fence to crawl under, among other things.
The Green Boys member, Tevin Gibson, 10, said his favorite activities include the rope, tires and barbed wire fence. He also said he's learned quite a bit, too. "I've learned that discipline can help you real good," he said. "If you're bad, then it can turn you good."
The use of paint ball guns may raise a level of concern for some parents, and Lewis is aware of that. He insists the kids are taught about gun safety and responsibility.
"A lot of people don't like our use of a gun facility," Lewis said. "We do teach safety. Actually, paint ball is safer than football or golf. Football is more violent because if someone is tackled, a player might get mad and fight the other guy. In golf, the ball could bust someone in the head. With paint ball, at the least, you'll get paint on you, and if it hits your skin, it just feels like a bee sting."
Some other benefits of the group include learning about wildlife, getting in shape, working together and learning manners, Lewis said. Drug resistance education is also implemented into the organization, he added.
Goodwin is in charge of the wildlife education. For example, he teaches about the habitats and behaviors of snakes. Goodwin said he also teaches the boys which snakes are venomous and how to distinguish between venomous and nonvenomous. He added the boys are taught what to do if bitten by a snake.
"I love reptiles. I teach the kids about the ecosystem and to not just grab a snake and kill it. If you just step back, it will usually go away. If you stand there and corner it, then it feels threatened, and that's when it attacks," Goodwin said.
Items needed to participate in the organization include a tent and army fatigues. Cost for the fatigues is $50. Lewis said volunteer staff members are welcome after a background check is completed. Those interested in joining or volunteering should contact Terry Lewis at (573) 481-9033.
The National Guard is not affiliated with The Green Boys, and Sgt. First-Class Keith Standridge of the Sikeston National Guard said he isn't familiar with the organization; however, he added: "Any program that keeps the kids off the street and away from drugs can't be too terrible."