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The Importance of Positive Male Role Models

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As young men grow up in the United States, there are certain things that they are expected to know by certain ages. This is not something that is unique to the United States; it is a universal concept. Boys are expected to turn into men through their actions, words, and worldly understanding. They should be “strong and resilient,” willing to do the work expected of them without much complaint, and most of all, they should be sensitive.

Sensitive? This is the most important of those listed above, but is ultimately spoken of the least. As a global western society, we are becoming better at recognizing the importance of the discussion on the sensitive male; however, we still have much ignorance to muck through.

Summer camp is a great way for young men to see sensitivity in action.

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When parents enroll their sons (and daughters) at Green River Preserve, they are all asked what they desire their child to gain by the end of the experience. From the many responses I have heard and read, the most common response is a “sense of worth.” At camp, our campers have an opportunity to find that. Many boys come to camp with little direction in their lives, unsure of what they will find here. What they will find at a place like Green River Preserve is a range of positive male role models–in the form of the staff.

Male counselors share unique experiences with their campers. Counselors build fires, tramp through the wilderness, and tell the old tales of the people before our time. They clean up soiled sheets, get muddy anytime they can and love all things in this great big world around them. Most importantly, however, they treat everyone around them with love and respect.

Camp is a place where feelings, creativity, and individuality run free. Boys don’t feel constrained by the pressure of the world around them. They learn to love all equally and value women as their siblings. When a young man sees his counselor hug a tree with no shame, it can change their perspective. They begin to see the value in sensitivity.

All of those initial qualities- strength, charity, and sensitivity- ultimately should be held by both sexes; in today’s society, these are especially important for males. Everyday boys can see examples of strength and charity consistently, but sensitivity is hard to come by. Counselors are the perfect way for young men to realize whom and what to cherish and care for in their lives.

Story by Abe Bartlett with Photos by Brandon S. Marshall