“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” — F. Douglass.
This is the mantra of the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, a non-profit international organization created to guide boys ages 12-17 through their passage to manhood.
Boys today have too few positive role models and far too many negative examples of masculinity. Gangs, drugs and teen pregnancies compound this critical time in a young man’s life. Too many good boys get caught up in a path they may not have chosen if they had a mentor to help them see options, weigh consequences and make positive choices.
Boys act out for a reason. Once that reason is revealed, they are better able to make conscious choices. The Boys to Men (BTM) program addresses core issues facing adolescent boys.
BTM provide boys with mentoring and modeling so they learn integrity, accountability, compassion and respect. BTM helps boys develop responsibility and guides them toward healthy manhood.
The BTM model is based on a successful and proven program that starts with the mentor.
BTM recruits and trains one adult man for each young man who goes through the Rite of Passage weekend. The mentor’s purpose is to guide, support and help reinforce new, healthy male behaviors. There is a mandatory 24-hour mentor training program and each mentor agrees to attend community meetings with his mentee for one full year. Each mentor must also pass a FBI criminal background check.
BTM provides boys a “Rite of Passage” adventure weekend where adult male staff models integrity, courage, respect, passion and leadership. Many “Journeymen” (boys who have completed the Rite of Passage Weekend) volunteer to staff and assist the new boys entering the program. Through a series of carefully-facilitated processes, each boy discovers something of the scope of his own humanity. Boys are supported and challenged in new ways and they discover they can respond in new ways. They find their own integrity, courage, respect, passion and leadership. It is a life-changing experience many boys say they will never forget.
Building on the Rite of Passage Weekend, the young men and their mentors meet together every two weeks to eat, play and further develop the new insights and capacities gained from the weekend. These community groups provide the forum for ongoing support, empowerment and continuing personal growth.
“As adolescence ends — if there is no effective initiation or mentorship — a sad thing happens. The fire of thinking, the flaring up of creativity, the bonfires of tenderness, all begin to go out.” — Robert Bly.
Currently there are Boys To Men Centers in 21 communities, including South Africa.
Emerging centers include New Mexico and possibly the Four Corners area, including Archuleta County. A mentoring training weekend is scheduled for Jan. 30-31 in Santa Fe.
If you are interested in more information go to www.boystomenccc.org. The Santa Barbara BTM community is currently mentoring the New Mexico BTM.
Those wanting more information for themselves or their church/service organizations can call John Gwin at 731-9666.