September 13, 2011

The Lakes Area Guys Network - LAGN

The Lakes Area Guys Network (LAGN) was born in August of 2009 when I went to Brainerd, MN to discuss a group mentoring model for men and young males. I was part of a conversation with a gathering of community and social service agency representatives at the town library. Together they expressed concern for the problems many young males were creating in their town. It was the hope that a coordinated effort could be created to support these young men.

Their target population was middle school (grades 5-8) with an emphasis on those from single parent families. The idea was that boys would take part in activities with good men from the community and the fun and positive attention would be good for all the males involved. This experimental program would easily be populated with boys through referrals from schools, social service agencies and even law enforcement.

Some time prior to the community meeting, the Kinship Partners mentoring program in Brainerd had started an experiment of its own. A group of outdoorsman who came together through bible study at a local church decided they wanted to give back to their community. A couple of the men from the church were already mentors in the Kinship Partners program and a partnership was formed. With Kinship doing the background screening of volunteers, their program was launched. Soon the men of the church and boys from their faith community were going on monthly outdoor adventures. That initiative didn't last, however, and about the time it was winding down, my presentation at the library was held. Following that meeting, a new community venture was formed. LAGN's first activities were held in January of 2010.

Fishermen and Boys
Today, the LAGN has become an official group mentoring project of Kinship Partners. There is a core group of six men who are responsible for the logistics of the 2-3 activities a month for young males and men from the Brainerd Lakes area. Events are usually outdoors (all seasons) and involve fun and physical activities. Examples include kickball, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, broomball, snow tubing, disc golf, football, whiffleball, and fishing - their most popular offering in a land of lakes.

LAGN is still working on recruiting men to share their interests and skills, and is always looking for sponsors and financial contributors. But they are cooking along and making a difference in the lives of boys, men, and their community.

If you have an interest in a LAGN like program for your community, send me a message and let's talk about how to start it!

For information about LAGN, contact David Downing, the Executive Director of Kinship Partners at (218) 454-8013 or email him at:

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