Name one false notion of manhood that you were told. Now leave that false pretense at the door and get ready to fill your mind with true notions of what being a man is all about!
At Manhood Camp, Co-founders Mark Winkler, Travon Tillis, and their team focus on empowering young men towards safe and productive behavior. The program, which is broken down into ten classes, exposes students to four main principles: self-awareness, self-empowerment, personal responsibility and social responsibility while showing students how to apply what they learn in their day-to-day lives.
“We have nine core classes that we try to teach our youth,” said Tillis.
“We have anger management, conflict resolution, building and maintaining healthy relationships, gang prevention intervention, drug prevention and awareness, proper hygiene, cooking 101 because we think every man needs to learn how to cook at least five meals, college preparation, effective job hunting technology, financial responsibility, and outside of the box exploring.”
Additionally, the non-profit organization provides educational and entertainment field trips to create positive and memorable experiences for youth.
Over time, the organization formed a relationship with James Monroe School and Peace4Kids who primarily works with foster children.
“We established a relationship with them and started working with a few of the children that they had. Travon mostly handles that responsibility and we meet with them every Saturday,” said Winkler.
Manhood Camp also hosts events for the community throughout the year, to help local families get connected to different resources they may need. Some of their past events include, “Beyond the Hoodie,” which took place shortly after the Trayvon Martin killing and
“Youth and Police Dialogue,” where the organization brought together police officers, youth, and members from the community to speak with one another.
Recently, the organization partnered with Facebook’s Black Fathers Group to host a “Fatherhood Circle” at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall Community Center on Saturday, March 24 from 11:00am – 1:00pm.
“We are both fathers and we both recognize the need…the absence of the father in the home can create a void and can cause disruption in both boy children and girl children,” said Winkler.
“We wanted to create an environment where we could create a support network for fathers and we are going to do it on a monthly basis.”
The event will provide support for fathers who are looking to build or continue building a healthy relationship with their kids. Most importantly, the event will teach fathers who want to be involved in their child’s life about all the resources that are available to them.
During the event, fathers will have access to a variety of community resources including lawyers and other professionals.
“Whether it be the court system, DCFS, Dependency Court, whether it be you just don’t know what to do with your child [the event is for you],” said Winkler.
“It is not just about the court system. We are here as a support network to help you to be able to be the best father that you can be in your child’s life.”
The best part about Winkler and Tillis’ job is seeing the impact they have made on the students who have participated in their organization.
“The best part about my job is the youth and letting them see that there are people out there who care about them and the opportunity is there. If we can plant that little seed, it will prosper and it will grow into something that we helped develop,” said Tillis.
Winkler stated the best part about his job is providing guidance to the students.
“Just helping guide them through the difficult moments of their lives and being there for them in a supportive way,” he said.
For information on the event on Manhood Camp please visit www.manhoodcamp.org.