This week’s Time magazine cover article, The Myth About Boys by David Von Drehl, should interest anyone involved in youth development, including parents of adolescent boys and girls. The below quote applies equally to both.
“When no one’s looming over them, they begin making choices of their own,” she says. “They discover consequences and learn to take responsibility for themselves and their emotions. They start learning self-discipline, self-confidence, team building. If we don’t let kids work through their own problems, we get a generation of whiners.”
That made sense to me. As I watched the boys at Falling Creek do things that would scare me to death if my own son were doing them–hammering white-hot pieces of metal, clinging to a zip line two stories above a lake, examining native rattlesnakes–I didn’t notice many whining boys.
That sounds a lot like what happens when you put a bunch of kids on a schooner for a sail training experience. Fun and adventure is a powerful elixir for developing character, self confidence, self esteem and self efficacy in youth. Give them “structured freedom” and introduce a little controlled risk and they will grow in amazing, unanticipated and immeasurable directions.