This summer, I had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary young men who were selected to attend and participate in the first of many Passport to Manhood (P2M) Camps at Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas. P2M is a comprehensive program that introduces impactful lifestyle skills to our male Club members who need male mentors who are committed to their long-term development. A special thank you is owed to the generosity of Rees-Jones Foundation that provided the necessary funds to offer this opportunity to our boys.
Why the need? BGCD has several successful programs for girls, but there is a growing need for male mentorship for our boys. In Dallas County, 40% of children live in single-parent households—the highest percentage of any county in Texas. This percentage is even higher in the communities served by Boys & Girls Clubs. Many of our Club members, especially boys of color, lack the economic, educational, health, and safety advantages that many children who live in two-parent households have.
During the four-day camp, I learned some of the hidden concerns of the boys. They shared:
- “I know my dad doesn’t love me, but my mom is always there for me.”
- “I’m 15 years old, in high school, but have to be responsible for my younger siblings. That causes me stress, and I feel that I can’t be a kid myself.”
- “Mr. English, you said to forgive our dad for being absent in our lives, but for me, that is hard to do.”
- “My mother works long hours to provide for me, but she doesn’t know what it’s like to feel the peer pressure I experience at school as a boy.”
BGCD’s bold goal is to break the cycle of young men growing up not knowing what it takes to become productive, caring, and responsible citizens. One of the proven strategies toward this goal is to present these young men with opportunities to experience firsthand how to deal with their fears, disappointments, self-esteem issues, and to have male-mentors who care and support their needs. It is an integral part of the development from boys to men. PSM does just that.
At a recent reception for Mayor Eric Johnson, he expressed his thanks and appreciation to the mentors he had during his time as a BGCD Club member and the positive impact it had on his future. Mayor Johnson spoke of “the village” that was there for him every step of the way.
Today, we have an urgent call to action for male mentors who will help us build a strong city of responsible men and escape being caught between a rock and a hard place. Our Passport to Manhood initiative needs your help!