SHIPROCK — Alexandria Cambridge tried to cool down Thursday afternoon after completing the physical fitness test for the Devil Pups Youth Program.

The 17-year-old Fruitland resident completed 80 sit-ups, 60 push-ups and held a chin-up for 24 seconds as part of program's fitness test at the Office of Diné Youth in Shiprock.

"I like a physical challenge. It's something to experience," she said while standing in front of a large fan in the gymnasium.

Devil Pups Inc. is a nonprofit organization that operates the Devil Pups Youth Program, which is designed to help boys and girls from ages 14 to 17 gain self-confidence and self-discipline and learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Alexandria Cambridge holds a chin-up on Thursday as she demonstrates one of several tests needed to join the Devil Pups program at the Office of Diné Youth
Alexandria Cambridge holds a chin-up on Thursday as she demonstrates one of several tests needed to join the Devil Pups program at the Office of Diné Youth in Shiprock. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

It is also a physically demanding program that includes activities such as running, swimming and hiking and is held for 10 days in July at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. The name of the program is a nod to Marines' "Devil Dogs" nickname.

Although it takes place at Camp Pendleton, it is not a recruiting organization for the Marine Corps.

Cambridge was accompanied to the tryout by her mother, Charlene Arviso, who provided encouraging words during the fitness test.

"I'm so proud of her. I'm so proud she is challenging her body and able to be healthy," Arviso said.

The minimum passing score for the fitness test is 200 points, according to the program's website.

This was Cambridge's first time trying out, and she scored 260 points. But she said she wants to reach 300 points, so she plans to try again on Friday.

The Office of Diné Youth started sending participants to the program in 1983, according to Jeff Holtsoi, a recreation specialist with the office.

This summer, three boys and two girls will be selected from each of the five agencies on the reservation.

Jeff Holtsoi talks with Alexandria Cambridge and her mother, Charlene Arviso, at left, on Thursday at the Office of Diné Youth in Shiprock.
Jeff Holtsoi talks with Alexandria Cambridge and her mother, Charlene Arviso, at left, on Thursday at the Office of Diné Youth in Shiprock. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

Holtsoi, who also oversees the Devil Pups program for the Northern Agency, said the program teaches teens to make good decisions, develop life skills and understand the importance of physical activity.

"It's good. I know everybody has their point of view and looks at it as a boot camp, but it is an individual challenge," Holtsoi said.

Tryouts started on Wednesday and end today. If slots remain open, tryouts continue next week.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.