Windermere Young Men's Club Helps Boys Become Men

Inspired by Templeton's Man Up Play, a group of male administrators, community team members and teachers have founded a new club to work with young men on their leadership and collaboration skills.

The Windermere Young Men's Club draws members from across the school community. Meeting every week for a few hours, group organizers say their aim is to support and mentor teenaged boys as they seek to define themselves in secondary school.

"Adolescence for all youth can be challenging. Young men have particular needs like ways to take healthy risks, a place to share story and feel belonging," said Community School Coordinator and Young Men's Club founder Gavin Clark. "We wanted to create a space that was positive as an alternative for the 'not so positive' choices kids could make."

The safe space is one of the things that Grade 10 Windermere student Mark Manangan likes about the club.

Young Men"It is a place where you can let out your problems and concerns about life and the leaders are really understanding," he says. "It is better to have a club like this, because boys have different perspectives on life than girls. Guys feel free to joke around and be men."

Clark says organizers have purposefully drawn a very disparate group of students together.

"There are kids from leadership, new immigrant students, those who are enrolled in our special education programs, really all kinds of students," he says. 

Clark and other club leaders have worked with students to develop a "Bro-code" that everyone is held to account for. The code of ethics is in place anytime the students are dealing with each other. Organizers hoped to cement the code and foster relationships in a recent trip to Loon Lake Camp outside of Maple Ridge.

During the afternoon, the Young Men's Club students tried their hands at a variety of icebreakers that fostered better communication and encouraged engagement outside of the traditional cliques.

"Today's been good," says Manangan. "I like the activities and we are learning a lot more about each other and it is good to break down the cliques."

Later in the afternoon, the boys got a chance to do the camp rope course before piling back into the bus for the long drive back to Windermere.

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