March 24, 2009

The 6th Annual Tucson Guy's Hike

Every year in recent history, as Gwen and I "snowbird" in Tucson, AZ, I've sponsored what I call the Tucson Guy's Hike. I happen to love to hike, and a few years back I started to share that passion with the men and boys in the circles I inhabit. Over time, the word has gotten out and in recent years we've always had 20 to 25 males on the adventure.

Just below you'll find just a few of the photos from this years hike. It's a great time, everyone loves it, and comes back tired. I've left out the photos of the ritual dip in the pool below the falls, but the icy snowmelt water gives everyone serious bragging rights on return.

We always do an honoring circle at the end to talk about what we liked, didn't like, and what we learned. Just before getting the tram back, we put the young lads in a line so the men can give each boy a blessing. It's a very heartwarming thing.

I'm posting this for two reasons. First, it's my blog and it makes me happy to relive the experience. Secondly, I'd like you to think about a passion you have that you might be willing to share with the men and boys in your world.

If you already have a story like this, please send it along for inspiration. Men and boys are waiting.

Enjoy and blessings.


If the slideshow above doesn't show, go to this link to see it.

March 18, 2009

The Myth of Strong, Silent Men

A brother man-maker and blog reader, Rick Segreda, was moved by recent events to send along the following comment. I love what he said. See what you think. I'll put my comments at the end.

Most of us are familiar with the male stereotype about the strong but silent man. The myth is that by not speaking, men are displaying character, inner strength, integrity, yadda, yadda, yadda. What brought all this up for me was the slaughter yesterday in Alabama. The ABC news article included a line saying, "Michael McLendon, 27, of Kinston, Ala., was described by former high school classmates and others who knew him as a former A student who 'never had very much to say.'"

It is my hope that Michael’s example help begin to someday fully and totally dismiss the myth about "silent men." Personally, I hum along in agreement with what Sidney Greenstreet tells Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon," when he says that he prefers men who say too much to those who say too little, because those who say too little often say the wrong thing when they do.

In part, the men's work I've been part of over the years, and much of the work with boys, is largely to help them find their voice . . . to help them to find that link between what's happening in their inner emotional life and the willingness and ability to speak it in trusted circles. I agree with Rick that we don't need more male shooters to learn this lesson. We need more places where males, of all ages, can be encouraged and supported in taking the risk to speak their truth . . . mad, sad, glad or otherwise. Strong silent men are really just pressure cookers.

March 12, 2009

Perfect Mentoring Opportunities

I often hear from men who were severely under-fathered or who missed any qualitative male mentoring growing up. It's my story too. In fact, not having been mentored is one of the common barriers that keep men from stepping into their man-making potential because they think they don't know how. It's a part of the reason that today we have what I term an epidemic of under-male-nourished boys in the world.

I received the following story from Steve S., a Man-Making Blog subscriber, describing both heart breaking and a heart swelling stories of boy mentoring. I am certain they will kick up some historical emotional dust for you.

I have two memories I want to share with you that are totally divergent but mirror the craziness I grew up with. They have to do with how important recognition is to a boy and what motivates a boy to achieve self-reliance.

When I was a boy I was in the Cub and then the Boy Scouts. In scouting a boy has many passages when he moves from one level to the next. Sadly, it was rare for me to have my dad, or anyone from my family show up to see it. And I don’t recall my friends’ dads being there either; much less extended family or male neighbors. I had worked hard to win those merit badges and the advancement for life skills they represented, and I so badly wanted my dad, or someone, there to see it.

Instead, when I’d come home from the award meeting waving my new badge shouting “Hey dad, I’m a Wolf!,” all I ever got was “that’s nice.” It’s a wonder that I ever wanted to keep pushing ahead? I don’t think dad ever knew any of my feelings around this, and certainly none of the other men in my family ever knew what I had accomplished so they could join me in my joy. A sad collection of missed opportunities all around.

Just so you don’t think it was all bad, once while camping with my family in Colorado…when I decided I was ready…I went out to climb a mountain all by myself. I brought a canteen, some food, a sheath knife, a pole and an old tee-shirt to use as a flag. Dad said he would keep his binoculars trained on the mountain top and when he saw the flag go up he would put wet boughs on the campfire to celebrate my accomplishment, and important to me, let everyone in the campground know I had done it.
Seeing the cloud of white smoke from that not very high mountain top, within minutes of the flag going up filled me with pride. When I came down, people I did not even know gave me ‘atta-boy’s! Around that same campfire that night dad made me recount in detail my climb and how it felt. I cherish that memory now!

From the eyes (and heart) of a young boy, the attentions of his father or an older man, delivered at the right moment, can be life changing.

Keep up the good work Earl, and thanks for allowing me to think, feel, and reflect.


If this post helped you to "think, feel, and reflect," consider commenting on this post. We'd all like to hear your story.

March 6, 2009

Economic Stimulus Money for Mentoring?

There is great news from MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Read the announcement below to learn how SOME of the stimulus dollars will actually be put to very good use!

Economic Stimulus Package Includes Funding for Mentoring

March 5, 2009: When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law February 17, it included $225 million in competitive grant funding through the U.S. Department of Justice for mentoring and other activities.

In the language of the final package, the measure provided $225 million for competitive, peer-reviewed grants to units of state, local and tribal government, as well as to national, regional and local non-profit organizations to "prevent crime, improve the administration of justice, provide services to victims of crime, support critical nurturing and mentoring of at-risk children and youth, and for other similar activities."

"The fact that Congress has continued to highlight mentoring as a solution acknowledges what we already know, that mentoring works," said Marian Heard, vice chair of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. "Young people whose families have been and will continue to be hard hit by the economic crisis will need the help and guidance of a caring mentor more than ever. We are pleased that this funding will be available to ensure that more of our young people can be touched by the power of mentoring at this crucial time in their lives."

MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership has been working the last ten years to enhance the quality of mentoring, and to fight for this kind of funding. For more information on the economic stimulus money, as it becomes available, stay tuned to Mentor's website at

Check out Mentor's Find an Opportunity webpage to search for a mentoring opportunity in or near your zip code.

March 2, 2009

Man-Making from Jerusalem

Our brother in mission, Ami Steinberger, is currently living in Jerusalem. As a supporter of the Man-Making blog, he sent along these thoughts about an age-old rite of passage from the Jewish tradition.

The marker of the rite of passage in Jewish society is the Bar Mitzvah. In less observant circles it has become an excuse for a big party, but the authentic meaning of the event is that a Jewish boy becomes a Jewish man by taking upon himself the laws and traditions of the Torah - basically, responsibility to self, others and G-d. We commemorate this transition by calling him up to read from the Torah among the men of his community.

In the photo above, you can see a young Ethiopian Jewish immigrant at his Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Wailing Wall. One piece of the Bar Mitzvah package is an imperative for every male from 13 and up to attend prayer services with a group of nine or more other Jewish men (a man is defined as a male 13 and up), three times daily. Together we come together to praise G-d, plead to Him, sing to Him, cry to Him, or just stand there bored...which is often the case for many. But the point is that the boys/men come together to do something - sometimes without exchanging words, but by bonding through a common activity and a common goal.

Some shuls (synagogues) have more of a sense of male community than others do. I've recently been attending one in the mornings at the break of dawn. In this particular place, I feel held and supported by the potent male energy - lots of elder energy, whose passion always comes with a grain of salt. I'm there with a few other guys in their twenties, but most of the men are older. Sometimes there's a teen straggler - but they usually sleep in and go to the later "meetings."

The boys growing up in the community where I live and others like it have a great advantage - they're held and supported in their growing manhood not only by their fathers and brothers, but also by the wider community of men. The anticipation of a mandatory draft to the army adds a sense of urgency as well, which promotes bonding.

That's my correspondence for the evening.

I love what you're doing Earl. Keep it up!