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Survival training for teens offered in March

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” — F. Douglass.

The local Boys to Men (BTM) Network announces a spring Rites of Passages Adventure (ROPA) weekend for boys ages 12-17. BTM is a nonprofit, secular, international organization designed to mentor boys through their teenage years as they begin their journey into manhood. The BTM journey begins with an initiatory weekend.

Pagosa teen, John Hunts, ”Tee-John,” completed his ROPA weekend with the New Mexico chapter of BTM in the spring of 2009. Boys who complete their initiatory experience are referred to as Journeymen or J-Men, on their journey to manhood. J-Man John Hunts and his local mentor or Sherpa, John Gwin, have since staffed two more initiation weekends for boys who have begun their journey. They continue to meet weekly as part of the on-going mentoring program of BTM.

Recently the two Johns began attending wilderness survival training. Local wilderness instructor Jason Stuck leads the weekly 2.5-hour class. The classes are conducted near Jason’s home, located off Jack’s Pasture Road.

The first class began around a campfire with a toast of hot ponderosa pine needle tea followed by a hike in the adjoining wilderness area. Discussion during the hike centered around the four basic needs for survival and a hands-on effort by the boys to satisfy those four needs.

The primary objective of the class is for participants to become proficient in using their new outdoor skills, which will enable them to survive while trekking with minimal equipment. Jason’s background in outdoor education and wilderness survival ensures the class will have fun and learn at the same time. He has many years experience teaching teenagers outdoor survival skills and his classes will continue through the spring.

“Tee-John” and John will staff a Boys To Men information table during the upcoming parent/teacher conferences at the junior high school on Feb. 14 and 16. The next Rites of Passage Adventure weekend is scheduled for April 30-May 1 at a site near Santa Fe.

On March 18-19, BTM will host an “Inner Mentor Training.” The 12-hour workshop offers men a gentle but extraordinary visit to their teenage years and is designed to help prepare adult men to mentor teenage boys.

“As adolescence ends — if there is no effective initiation or mentorship — a sad thing happens. The fire of thinking, the flaring up of creativity, the bonfires of tenderness, all begin to go out.“ — Robert Bly.

For more information regarding Boys To Men or the March workshop, contact John Gwin at 731-9666 or visit