Sunday, June 14, 2020

Man Stuff

I have written in this space about the Explorers before. That organization is the inspiration for my new
book Man Stuff: Things a Young Man Needs to Know.

Here is the forward from my book:

When my son was in seventh grade, I saw a need for some kind of youth organization that ALL young men could belong to – even those who were not athletic. I started the Explorers Club, a boys service club for 6-8th grade Chamberlain Public School and St. Joseph’s Indian School students, in the fall of 2001. Since then, over 350 young men have worked to raise over $125,000 for their school and community which has help fund over $650,000 in projects for the area.

This money has helped construct a new baseball field (with scoreboard) and new soccer field; purchase new playground equipment at two parks, new slides and equipment for the municipal swimming pool and A/V equipment and an AED device for the school; construct a fishing pier in the municipal campground, a new picnic shelter, and a community Frisbee golf course; and purchase trees, 60 new flag poles for community flag park, and equipment at Veterans Park. They have given financial support to the local “Meals on Wheels” and “Relay for Life” programs in addition to many other things.
They volunteer for an impressive list of service projects including cleaning school grounds, assisting with Veterans Day programs, assisting with sports tournaments, serving meals at high school athletic banquet, hosting Halloween parties for mentally handicapped, and performing various chores for elderly community members. They raise money for numerous people fighting health issues. They truly are the “go-to” organization for service and help in the community.

The group has won the South Dakota Middle Level Educators “Friend of Education” Award (2002); Chamberlain Public School District “Friend of Education” Award (2002); School Administrators of South Dakota “Helping Hands” Award (2002); Chamberlain-Oacoma Area Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award (2009 & 2016).

The Explorers (30-45 members each year) conduct their weekly meeting each Thursday morning at 7:30 AM. I prepare the agenda and the elected officers conduct their meeting. They plan their activities and report on recent events.

The Explorers go on two trips annually. They trek to Pierre (South Dakota’s capitol) to meet our governor and various constitutional officers. They are introduced to our legislature and tour various museums and agencies in Pierre. Then they cap each school year with a trip to Minneapolis, Kansas City or Denver to see a couple of MLB baseball games.

They host a middle school dance each year. As the DJ for that dance each year, I am reminded of the awkwardness of this age, especially when it comes to dances!

In 2014, I began a segment at each of their weekly meetings that I called “Man Stuff”. I took a life lessons topic that I thought would be interesting to the young men and something that might serve them well growing up. It soon proved to be the highlight of the meetings. The guys really enjoyed it.
The chapters of this book come from those “Man Stuff” lessons. The lessons range from life skills (how to tie a tie, how to shake hand, the importance of being on time, etc.) to good to know skills (how to jump start a car, men’s room etiquette, and how to wear cologne). This is not the entire list of Man Stuff topics. (Perhaps the others will come in Man Stuff 2.0!)

Of the awards I have been fortunate to receive during my adult life, none compares to the reward of working with the Explorers Club. For more than 19 years now, the organization has served our community and our school. While my name may be on them, the awards belong to the young men in the organization.

My reward is the relationships that I have forged working with these young men. Many are now married and have kids of their own. I am often sought out at community events of after church service by former Explorers who just want to say hi or reflect on their time in the club.

I look forward to these meetings each Thursday. It is my privilege to work with these young men and I am so proud of their work in the community.

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