Today was our monthly outing with the boys. Each month, myself and a few other men from the Sacramento area get together with a group of boys for connection, sharing, and learning. Our work is to model conscious manhood by being living examples to them. We work with and are inspired by a program called Boys to Men that empowers men to mentor and work with boys in their community within the age range of 12 through 17. It may sound complicated, scary, or even corny to those of you who have not had this experience yet. What I’ve been discovering and learning from boys for over two years now is that mentoring boys is simple, basic, and good soul food for me, the boys, and other men.
Being with the boys brings up memories of fathering my own son (he’s thirty years old now) and it also brings up memories of my own adolescence; some happy, some not. It gives me the opportunity to be of service to boys, yet it goes deeper than that. I experience being a kind of uncle to the boys and, as a man of 56 years on the planet, I also experience being a grandfather figure, an elder to the boys. It’s not what I expected to ever experience in this life.
At times, I am frustrated with the boys because they’re bored, impatient, or picking on each other. Truth be told, sometimes I find myself in a place of boredom or other disconnection, too. That’s about me and personal work I still have to do. At other times, one of the boys will show up in an honest way from their heart and move right past my wall of emotional defense, judgment, indifference, or doubt into a place of trust. This surprises me and keeps me inspired to continue showing up for them and me. I’ve experienced the boys expressing their appreciation and gratitude without even saying anything. It might be through a hug or a smile. Simple, direct, and uncomplicated.
I enjoy giving them encouragement about being honest, speaking their truth and acknowledging them when they show up with the willingness to change or courage to be themselves. I’m happy to see how my connection with the boys continues to deepen.
Once again, it’s not rocket science with the boys. It’s about showing up and being open and available. So, if you’re curious about Boys to Men and want to know more, check them out at www.boystomen.org. There are Boys to Men chapters around the U.S. and also in Canada and South Africa. Boys are ready and men are needed. This work is part of building and co-creating a better future for all of us.