Boys Club Building Outstanding Young men of Strength
Boys fascinate me. I think they always have. Even as a child, I remember admiring the skill, determination, and intelligence of boys that I knew (although I probably wouldn't have admitted it then!). Sometimes, boys were just more fun to be around. It was, after all, the neighborhood boys who shared my affinity for football and baseball and the glorious pleasures of mud after a heavy rain. The boys that I played with were never satisfied with the status quo of...anything. They were constantly modifying and revising and challenging limits. What if we put another brick under the ramp? What would it be like to eat that? What happens to eyelids if you turn them inside out? How far can we shoot something, or spit something, or throw something? I didn't always have the gumption to pursue those kinds of questions, but I certainly enjoyed hanging out with those who did!
January 2008 marked the first full year since the inception of Boys Club at Meade River School. It's a local club, not affiliated with any state or national organization, but that doesn't seem to bother the boys involved. If you ask the boys what we do in Boys Club their answer won't be complicated. We talk…we eat…we swim! And that's pretty much it. A simple format, I know, but it seems to be enough, at least for now.
I never expected to start a club for boys and, even after a year, it's still a work-in-progress. But, I have to say, working with boys, away from girls, has been an enlightening experience. Obviously, gender-based differences among students can be distracting on many levels and with elementary children that distraction tends to be a negative one. But, within a homogeneous group, both girls and boys often seem to relax and participate more fully. It is as if they feel a little more freedom to be themselves without fear of ridicule or reproach.
Of course, managing the energy level during meetings can be difficult at times, but I really think it's a challenge worth facing. More than anything else, the club has given me an opportunity to know the inner workings of our boys on a completely different level. And I've learned that sometimes character education isn't as much a matter of pouring good stuff in as it is making the most of the good stuff that's already there. Our boys want to do what's right and they are capable of that. They want to make someone proud and they should. They want to be brave and challenge the limits of the life that they've been given. Like most boys, they want to raise the ramp and see what it feels like to fly. They just need the advantage of one or two well-placed bricks.
Boys Club Creed Every day I will be helpful and kind. I will treat others with respect. I will be brave and choose what is honest and fair. I will be a true friend, a strong son, and a proud citizen of my country.
We eat... Snack time is always an important part of our meetings! The good thing is the boys are never picky. Whether it's pizza or graham crackers, any snack is accepted with amazing enthusiasm. Of course, ice cream has proven to be the ultimate motivational tool.
We swim... The pool is only four foot at its deepest point, but it might as well be the ocean as far as these boys are concerned. I dare say they may even like swimming more than basketball...and that's saying a lot!
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")