June 28, 2009

YMAW – Young Men’s Adventure Weekend

Another powerful Man-Making group operating out of British Columbia is the Young Men’s Adventure Weekend or YMAW. Brad Leslie is coordinating this year’s gathering on July 10th – 12th, and an amazing event it will be.

Imagine an event planned and supervised by a production team of fifty adult men to host on average 70–80 Young Men between the ages of 12 and 17 for a long weekend. Now that’s what real commitment to Man-Making looks like.

It all started sixteen years ago, a group of men were discussing the plight of today’s male teenagers and the tough challenges they face transitioning into manhood. Deciding they wanted to do something about it, this group of volunteer men created the Young Men’s Adventure Weekend as a wilderness experience.

As describe on their website, the purpose of their work is to:
  • To assist, develop and foster the individual spirit of Young Men;
  • To encourage Young Men to become responsible and accountable for themselves;
  • To become team players by supporting and working with each other;
  • Preparation for adult life
From the reports and the comments on their site, they more than accomplish those goals every year.

This is a link to a truly inspirational video about the YMAW and here’s another link to some photos that really do tell the story. I guarantee that just checking out these links will rearrange some of you Man-Making molecules.

To learn more about this incredible undertaking, visit the YMAW website at:

If you hurry, there is even time to sign up for this year’s YMAW! Contact Brad Leslie at: bradleslie@telus.net

June 23, 2009

Guy Training: Why Girls Have Breasts

The TV remote control is an object/tool that somehow really calls to men. Could it be about the need to have control, or a chance to go "hunting" for the most important content being broadcast any given moment?

What I can own is that when holding a remote, I seem to be capable of considerable multitasking, a skill that is not as obviously present in the rest of my life. I'm not exactly sure why, but I can also report that I hold the device more than my wife. How about you?

In a recent post, I profiled a video showing a secret, male rite of passage, regarding early male training in the use of the TV remote control. And now along comes another video on the topic sent by a subscriber named Bret. It describes the gender struggle for possession of the remote device perfectly. It's titled, Why Girls Have Breasts. Let this be a warning to young males.

If the video doesn't show up, go to this link.

For those of you without a funny bone, yes, this is just guy humor.

June 17, 2009

My Father's Workbench

Just below is a shortened version of a story sent to me by a blog subscriber named Martin Brossman. He's titled it, My Father’s Workbench. You can read the whole story at Martin's blog on the topic.

His story speaks of not only the power of fathers in a boy's life, but the attraction for all males to tools, building and fixing things, and what might be called "sacred male space." If you want to get any boy's attention, just haul out the tools or gear.

Please let me know what this story cooks up for you. You can send me an email or post your reactions in the comments area of this post on the Man-Making blog.

On my 50th birthday in April, I spent the day taking both my parents to two doctor appointments, an exhausting time for them and me. At the end of the day, I went into the basement of their home, the Washington, D.C. house where I grew up, to find a quiet moment. Finding myself standing in front of Dad’s workbench. I got out my cell phone and took a picture.

Later when I looked at that photo, I knew why I had choked up a few weeks before when I stood in my just-built garage in Raleigh, when I was deciding where my new workbench would go. Looking at Dad’s old bench made me realize just how deeply I have always wanted a place to have a home-made workbench like his, one where I could work on household repairs and make things. Most of all I wanted a big sturdy bench where I could properly mount my red vice that I have carried with me from three places I have lived.

I realized, too, that creating my own workbench is connecting me back to the time as a kid when I worked with my father at his workbench. It was where Dad always started house jobs from, and where we ended house jobs by putting away the tools. It was part of connecting with my Dad, who worked a lot but still had time for us to do things. It was not the cleanest workbench and that is part of what made it great. . . .

From the “men’s work” that I have been involved in, to my work with The Triangle Men’s Center, I have learned a lot in the past decade or so about the mental wounds that can occur in men’s lives due to an absent or abusive father. I have met so many men who never had this element in their life, who never had a Dad who included them in house jobs, or experienced a family workbench that held the tools they used together. . . .

Even though my father is on dialysis and much weaker now, I know he will be glad to see a picture of the workbench I am going to build in my garage. It will be ready to photograph when I attach that red vice that mounts with 4 big bolts on its right-hand corner. Over time, my workbench will collect its own holes and nicks from the projects I imagine happening on it. I’ll have to remember to take a picture years from now.

Thanks Dad, for introducing me to the workbench. You weren’t just teaching me handyman skills, you were modeling patience and confidence, and how to carve out a small space for peaceful enjoyment . I hope to keep sharing this valuable message with other men who might be missing the importance of a workbench in their life.

Martin Brossman is the founder of The Men's Inquiry and the author of Finding Our Fire: Enhancing Men's Connection to Heart, Passion and Strength. He can be reached at: Martin@CoachingSupport.com

June 9, 2009

Working on the Man-Making Front Lines

What follows is an exchange of emails between myself and a man named Richard Cole-Garner. He is working with high risk young people at an organization named The CYDS Project (Community Youth Development Service), in the United Kingdom. Richard talks about getting down at times under the onslaught of problems and challenges facing the kids he serves.

If you know someone in this work, please support them. If you can find a way to actually be involved, in even the most minimal ways with the young people they serve, the positive returns for all the males involved will be wonderful.

After you read this exchange, tell me what YOU would say to men like Richard? If you'd like, you can send Richard a note of encouragement!

Hello Earl,

I work as part of a local young person's project supporting mainly 13-19 year old kids from mostly difficult, deprived backgrounds. Usually, this involves negotiating the treacherous paths of alcohol and drug abuse, and the dangers of underage sex. So basically, we provide advice, guidance, counseling-if wanted, or just somewhere they're welcomed and approved that they can hang out.

The boys especially seem to be missing some vital ingredient. Some combination of challenge, wholesomeness, ancient wisdom, and structure . . . these are all descriptive words that come to mind. I need to find a way to engage their intense energies within the context of their lives in a way that engages them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Thank you for the wonderful contribution of the Man-Making book Earl.

Greetings Richard and thanks for your kind words.

Your work with young people makes you one of my heroes. I do understand how powerless it can feel when faced with what I call the "epidemic of under-male-nourished boys." You really are one of the battlefield medics, doing what you can. I both honor your work and have compassion for you around the pain and dysfunction you must see everyday.

I also understand what you mean when you talk about the absence of something for these boys. I think it's a clear and positive path toward manhood that's missing. That and caring men like you to be there for them. Men willing to intentionally set them on and support their journey toward a positive manhood. Those resources would help fill in some of that, "vital missing ingredient" you're referring to.

I believe this is not, however, a lost boy problem, but a lost men problem. Filling in those missing pieces for boy is "men's work." Sadly, men are absent this work in droves and the consequence is lost and confused boys.

Please don't ever underestimate the importance of your involvement, with the actions you describe of, ... "supporting," "advising," welcoming, and approval. Those are powerful tools and while maybe not "enough" to make the critical difference, you must trust you are having positive impact. In the lonely, adult male-deficient world these boys inhabit, I'm sure you're a total ray of sunshine.

If you could gather a core group of men to work with your boys . . . some form of regular and on-going involvement, you could increase your positive impact, maybe even save some lives. The secret of this work is that the volunteer adult men get completion . . . healing of some their unfinished adolescent pain. Men also get a better understanding of both the rightness and importance of this important men's work. But for that to happen for men, some form of involvement needs to take place. I do know how hard that can be to organize, get money, approvals, etc. But one passionate and motivated man, like yourself, speaking up, might possibly make something amazing happen for the young males in your care.

That is my wish for you, and know that I'm happy to support you in that work any way I can.

Blessings on your caring and efforts,


June 2, 2009

Reading - FRED - and Man-Making

Here is a great Man-Making program suggestion from Lowell Johnson, a Minnesota subscriber.

Earl, I think you and your readers might be interested to know about the FRED program here in the Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota. Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) is a national program which encourages men to connect with young children by reading to them regularly. We are in the third year of programming and will have almost 2000 participants at 11 different sites by our June 30 year's end. We have expanded the standard FRED format to include an option called Run and Read where we play a lot of active games as well as read to kids and give away free books. A new FRED development this year has us doing parent/literacy education to inmates of the Crow Wing County jail.

I believe FRED is a great Man-Making program because it's a non-threatening way for men to connect with young children in a positive way. If any of your readers would like more information about FRED, they can reach me at ljohnson@brainerd.net. Keep up your good work!

I have lots of fond memories of being read to, mostly by teachers. I especially liked when the stories were done in a serial fashion and you'd have to wait a day to get to the next exciting installment. We do the same thing on a boys to men weekend utilizing a storyteller. That last thing to happen prior to bedtime on both Friday and Saturday night is that a man will read or tell the initiates a compelling and relevant story. Don't ever under estimate the power of a good story to interest, inspire, and calm down a group of adolescent males. A campfire doesn't hurt either.

FRED was originally developed by Lynn Bourland White and Stephen Greene in 2001 at the Texas Cooperative Extension at Texas A&M University. The program was named for Fred Bourland, who read to his children as they grew up. For more information on this program, you can contact Lowell Johnson at his email above or you can contact Steve Green directly at Texas A&M at (979) 845-6468 or s-green@tamu.edu

Lowell is right! The idea of men reading to kids at home, as volunteers in schools, in support of young fathers in prison, on a rite-of-passage weekend, or in any setting, is indeed first class man-making.