Billed as a potent way to help at-risk black males become productive men
Four committed African-American men who share a passion for turning at-risk boys into productive men will combine their experiences to host a ten-week Manhood Development Camp from April 4 through May 23.Â Â The Camp, which is titled Building Boys Into Young Men, will be held from 9AM to 12 Noon at Leo Catholic School, 7901 S. Sangamon, Chicago. The camp is free and open to young men ages 12-18. For information on how to participate, and for details of the program, log on to www.mackmcghee.com.
The four men Mack McGhee, Director and founder of the Camp, William C. Gray, Jr., Assistant Director, Lamont Brown, Assistant Director and Stanley Muhammad, Brotherhood DirectorÂ — conceived the idea out of their concern for the plight of black youth. According to statistics and to the leaders’ observations, black males are disproportionately impacted by crime, gangs, drugs and violence. When factoring in the achievement gap that young black males face, their future is especially bleak.
As a viable way to combat the struggles black youth face daily, the four created this camp.Â The goal is to provide the tools to help them conquer the daily trials, tribulations and temptations that are barriers to success.
In describing the Camp, McGhee, explained: The Manhood Development Camp is an attempt to engage at-risk youth by providing them with knowledge, skills and techniques that will aid them as they continue to grow and develop. What makes the Camp even more impactful is that the youth will be mentored and nurtured by strong African-American males. Each team members understands the obstacles black males face and are willing to share lessons from their mistakes. All of these elements makes the Camp a pivotal link in their journey to manhood.
The youth will be engaged through three core components: Circle Up/Brotherhood, Character Development/Lecture and Community Service/Recreation
Circle Up/BrotherhoodÂ¨This segment will build camaraderie and brotherhood among participants. The leaders will facilitate discussions addressing conflict resolution, anger management and critical thinking. Building relationships and friendships is key to healthy growth and development throughout life.
Character Development/LectureÂ¨This section will focus on a series of guest lecturers who will focus on the critical area of character development and socio-emotional development.
Community Service/RecreationÃ¢Â¨ This track gives recognition to the importance of instilling in youth a sense of community that is achieved through service. Accordingly, this segment will focus on identifying and selecting service learning projects that participants will execute from planning to implementation.
Finally, in recognition of the lofty values of Kwanzaa, the program will incorporate the Principles of Nguzo Saba:Â Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose) Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith.)
To capture the metamorphosis from boys to men, the experience will be recorded in a video journal. The video camera is a critical partner in the boot camp.
The four principals bring to the camp a rare blend of experiences, knowledge, proven results in connecting with youth and educational and professional credentials. At their core is a spirit-based foundation and compassion. While they bring different backgrounds to the endeavors, they are bound by a purpose-driven will to work with young people and help them successfully navigate the obstacles that keep them from living productive lives.
The leaders are:
Mack McGhee, DirectorÂ – Manhood Development Camp
Mack, who hails from Chicago Heights, was attacked with the claw side of a hammer during a fight that erupted at a party when he was a teenager. While recuperating, he decided to turn his life around, give up the street life and dedicate his life to helping youth. He finished high school, earned a BA Degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State University and an MA in Political and Justice Studies Ã¢ all by the age of 24. He has served as a staffer and/or administrator in a series of child welfare and human services agencies in the State of Illinois.Â For the past 20 years, he has dedicated his life to empowering, encouraging and motivating youth to succeed and discover their purpose — even against all odds. A gifted speaker, he has spoken to, and inspired thousands
William C. Gray, Jr., Assistant Director, Manhood Development Camp
Mr. Gray boasts 18 years experience in the education and health/wellness field. He has positively impacted the lives of thousands of youth. As a physical education instructor and Head Football Coach for the Chicago Park District at the start of his career, he stressed the importance of self-esteem and interpersonal skill building through teamwork and cooperation. He also emphasized the importance of academics. This is the message he took with him as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and Charter schools and what he continues to communicate.Â Mr. Gray brings to youth he guides an expectation that they will excel academically and will possess a moral character. Gray is currently Dean of Students at Leo Catholic High School. He has remained steadfast in his commitment to educate, mentor and develop Chicago’s youth.
Lamont Brown, Assistant Director
Mr. Brown has successfully triumphed over a life that is filled with highs, and incredible lows. A resident of Harvey, Illinois where he excelled in athletics at Thornton Township High School, Mr. Brown also gave in to the lure of the street, which led to him being incarcerated.Â While in prison, he turned his life around and set on a path of productivity.Â A gifted and award-wining speaker, Lamont used the force of his words to motivate thousands nationwide. He uses his own life as a model for rejecting the temptations that led him astray and empowers students others with the mantra, If I can do it, you can too. An accomplished barber, he is a graduate of Cains Barber College and practices his craft as Co-owner of SuperNatural Cuts and Beauty Salon.
Stanley Muhammad, Brotherhood Director
Mr. Muhammad has over 30 years of experience teaching and developing ChicagoÃ¢s youth. His career has crossed the spectrum of child welfare, juvenile justice, education and coaching. He has served in a variety of positions at Urban Prep Academies West including Athletic Director, Head Coach, Dean of Students and Personal Counsel. He has devoted his life to uplifting Chicago’s communities and to helping young men succeed and to believe in themselves.
Of the Camp and its possibilities, McGhee said, “This Manhood Development Camp could be the force that saves black boys and puts them on a positive path in life. With so much at stake, young black youth cannot afford to miss such a powerful experience in becoming a man.”