Twentynine Palms -- “The number one thing we hear all the time [aboard the Combat Center] is ‘there is nothing to do out here,’” said Lovetta Scipio, program coordinator, Combat Center Single Marine Program. “We’re here to change that misconception.”
The SMP serves as the voice for single Marines in identifying concerns, developing initiatives, and providing recommendations through advocacy, recreational activities, special events and community involvement.
“The SMP is geared toward making sure our target audience, geo-bachelors and single Marines, needs are met,” Scipio said. “The three major pillars that we focus on are recreation, quality of life and volunteerism.”
According to Scipio, the installation’s SMP provides a wide variety of services to Marines and sailors, including an internet café, tournaments, and trips to theme parks and tourist hotspots throughout Southern California.
“Being in such a remote area, sometimes we look out the window and don’t really see opportunity,” Scipio said. “We are here to let the Marines know that there are different things set up for them.”
The success of the SMP is determined by single Marines who represent their unit and want to make a difference within their unit and on their installation. Lead by young leaders, the SMP functions to support single Marines’ leisure interests and quality of life concerns.
“In addition to surveys we hold, all unit [representatives] constantly ask their Marines ‘what is it you want to do, what is it you want to see?’” Scipio said. “This allows the Marines to have input on what trips and events the SMP holds.”
In the past, the SMP has organized trips to Disneyland, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. According to Scipio, these trips are held based on popular demand. In the future, the SMP would like to plan trips to San Francisco and Hawaii.
Apart from trips and tours, the SMP provides Marines opportunities to play an active role in the local community through volunteering.
“Often, the Marines want to continually give back while they are here so we partner up with different organizations to help them get out and be part of the community,” Scipio said.
The SMP celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015 and currently boasts more than 31 centers at Marine Corps installations around the globe. Scipio encourages Combat Center Marines and sailors who just want to unwind to stop by Spike’s Place Home of the SMP in building 1532. It’s open 365 days a year.
“Sometimes Marines just need to get away, so we offer recreational facilities here completely free for them,” Scipio said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping Marines work-force ready.”