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Are We Failing Our Boys?  

May 26, 2022

This past weekend, the Little One attended a free two-day camp put on by the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation. It’s called Girls Empowerment Camp. Throughout the two days, the 125 girls in attendance were guided, mentored, taught and befriended by more than 100 female firefighters and other first responders.

According to the website the camp “introduces them (teens age 14-18) to the fire service and provides campers with a realistic, hands-on overview of firefighting and exposure to all aspects of public safety career opportunities in the fire service. Additionally, the program empowers campers with life skills and professional guidance that encourages them to pursue a career in public safety.”

Over the two days, the Little One participated in some intense physical activities, as well as some what will probably be once-in-a-lifetime activities. She climbed a ladder to the roof of a building. She entered a building through a second-floor window and then repelled out the window back to safety on the ground. She operated a chainsaw. She navigated an obstacle course blindfolded with a buddy. She dragged a “victim” out of a building. She took aim at a target with a fire hose to simulate putting out a fire. And she learned the basics of CPR and First Aid.

Throughout the weekend camp she was encouraged. She was empowered. She was pushed to try things she never thought she could (or wanted to do). The women leading the camp made it clear that their goals were to instill confidence in these young women and to remind them that they can be or do anything. It was a phenomenal weekend experience that we are so grateful for.

This Girls Empowerment Camp is not the first time my girls have been given the opportunity to shine. It seems we have a lot of foundations and organizations focusing on girls and pushing them to do or be anything. The STEM movement is heavily focused on girls. They are encouraged to take on traditional male-dominated roles and tasks. It’s a wonderful thing. I am so grateful for these opportunities.

It does make me think, though, what are we doing to encourage and empower boys? There are plenty of boys who need encouraging. Where are the camps to encourage boys to be more compassionate? When do we encourage boys to be empathetic? Where is the camp teaching caregiving, art or acceptance?

Like it or not, the male and female psyche do follow what are considered stereotypical traits. We still teach our boys to be strong, to be tough, to not show emotion. It’s much harder for boys to ask for help. We often turn our heads when boys fight or turn to violence to solve conflict. We expect it and say things like, “boys will be boys.” I am starting to think that all of this effort to empower and strengthen girls is sort of leaving boys behind. We need to find ways to empower, encourage and engage all of our kids to be confident. To be empathetic. To be tolerant. To be caring. To ask for help. To be kind.

The horrific tragedy in Uvalde has reignited the debates about guns, mental health and accessibility. It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint one thing that will solve this chronic problem in our country. I am not looking to start any debates. I am simply hoping that we can learn to be kind. In the overwhelming majority of the recent school shootings, bullying is one of the huge underlying symptoms. We need to teach our kids tolerance, respect and empathy. Different does not mean bad. We are all different. We need to celebrate being different and accept and embrace our differences.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 26, 2022 1:47 pm

    What a marvellous opportunity, and a great thing to encourage girls to partake in. It’s always a difficult balance between boys and girls and how we should treat them. How we engender mutual respect and equal opportunities is a precarious balance and we are far from getting it right in the UK. Girls and boys, women and men, will never be the same. Hormones and physical and mental build will always see to that. Respect and tolerance, and a willingness to always try to understand another’s point of view is paramount. I am thankful that I am not a youngster, it is so difficult now!

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