I recently had the privilege of assisting in the facilitation of one of our Making of Men programs. Over the course of 5 days, this process sees 25 boys and their fathers or significant male figure work to create new bonds and transform the relationship from child and adult to one of peerage and mentorship.

As the participants arrived it was very clear many of the Boys were not wanting to be there; their body language obviously indicating a distance from the man they came with. Many barely had the capacity or willingness to look others in the eye or talk openly with adults.

However, as the days unfolded, gradually I observed the smiles start to return to their faces, the joyful banter emerge between parent and child and a sense of calm and connected conversations started to emerge.

The layers and masks started to come down and true, honest and open conversations were had. You could see the connections deepening and the participants starting to form into a close, cohesive group.

All the men and boys who attended faced challenges throughout the experience but importantly they were able to verbalise and talk these through with each other. You could see the group supporting individuals and this emerging motley community as a whole.

Traditional masculine norms and our day-to-day lives don’t allow for this level of honest and open conversation and sharing of experience. I have full admiration for the men who attended for stepping up and breaking down these stereotypical barriers to growth and development.

In such a small time, around 50 individuals from disparate backgrounds, cultures, geographic locations and life experience developed into a cohesive, supportive community which was an absolute pleasure to see.

Observing the young men returning to their families and the greater world standing tall, confident and happy within themselves and the pride, connection and love from these young men’s’ fathers and mentors was truly special and left an indelible mark upon me.

What I witnessed was the transformation of 25 boys into young men before my eyes over the space of only few days and it reached the very depths of my heart and provided me with hope and inspiration for the future.

[avatar user=”Joel” size=”thumbnail”]Written by Joel Hines[/avatar]