Every year I sponsor a boys and men hike when I'm in Tucson for the winter. This year was the 4th annual event. Twenty-two courageous males headed off into the Sabino Canyon wilderness for a spectacular day of hiking, playing, boulder hopping, stream crossing, waterfall dipping, guy humor and just hanging out. Butts were kicked by the heat and hike, but a very good time was had by all. Boys were thrilled and men's hearts were softened by the boy energy.
Check out the photos at this Shutterfly page. Click "View Pictures" and then on the next page click "View as slideshow" in the top right.
In my research I've learned that it's hard for emotionally wounded men to feel "put together" enough to offer themselves to boys. That's why organizations and books that help men heal are ultimately very good for adolescent males. Doing that work opens hearts, develops emotional vocabulary, drives catharsis, and contributes to a man's mature masculinity.
One book I recommend is on the topic of an enormous wound for most men, the loss of a father. Neil Chethik's book, Fatherloss, "...offers a fresh view of the male grieving process and practical advice to help guide sons through the loss of their fathers, no matter what stage of life the son is in when the death occurs." As Neil points out, "In the worst of circumstances, the loss can propel a son toward despondency; in the best, it can inspire in him a new appreciation for his life and loves, and move him with urgency to make the most of his remaining years."
How a man moves through this major grief experience will have a lot to do with how he shows up in his life and for the next generation of males.
It takes men to guide and initiate boys into manhood. One of the organizations I belong to, and which is mentioned in the Man-Making book is the Mankind Project. Their New Warrior Training Adventure weekend is an initiation experience for men. I recommend it.
One graduate of that weekend experience is hosting a blog that I find both inspirational and motivational. It's a compelling mix of thoughts, quotes, poetry, and other reflections on manhood. If you'd like a little inspiration around your masculinity and a look through the eyes of an initiated man, check out his blog.
Old-faithful Wolf - the author of this blog has a mission statement for his blog that I love. It reads, "Changing me, men, and the world, one blog post at a time." I wish him my best in that challenge.
This March 25th will be the happy day the Fourth Annual Guys Hike head's out. I've been sponsoring this event every year and just love the result. It's an easy and "low commitment" community experience for men and wildly fun for the boys (and men). And I just love how primitive it feels to be part of a group of men and boys walking single file in the mountains with a challenge to face.
Here is how the announcement for the hike reads:
Again, this year:
A group of group of men and boys will head off into the Sabino Canyon "wilderness" for a (not too) challenging 4-5 hour hiking experience that promises to have sufficient challenge, adventure, and beauty to be memorable.
Stories will be told, the natural environment explored, desert hiking skills taught and everyone will have the chance to support and be supported by others.
At the hike "summit," there will be celebration, a picnic lunch, and the big vista victory photo.
Young males will be watching the men for clues about manhood, and the men will be reminded about the competitiveness, playfulness, and sheer energy of adolescent males.
Men will create new connections or strengthened existing relationships with the young guys they brought and the other males on the hike.
Some men and some boy's lives will be profoundly impacted.
Everyone will have a lot of fun.
Do you think there is a "one-time" event you might sponsor in your community that would connect good men with other men and boys? I guarantee it's a big win for everyone. Click here to read all the details about the event.