Did you know that if you go back in our 100 year history as Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, you will find that we started as an exclusive club designed for boys? These early Clubs were started by men who saw a need for a positive place for boys to socialize and a positive alternative to boys roaming the streets. In those days, Clubs were places where boys, often referred to as “waifs,” spent their time learning to box, tie flies, play basketball, and collect stamps. It was a place where boys belonged.
The beginning of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs was no different. The Boys Clubs in Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton started in the late 1950s and early 1960s by community minded individuals who thought that having a Boys Club in their community could help boys grow up well. There are many grown men in our communities who attended our Clubs in the early days and who remember the positive role models and mentoring they received. These former members remind us that about the importance of early relationships and role models in young boys’ lives.
So what has changed about raising boys today?
It’s a different world today growing up as a boy. It looks different and feels different. Long days of riding bikes, fishing at the local pond, and building forts in the forest have been replaced with video games, screen time, and supervised activities that often confine adventure.
We have some great boys coming to our Clubs every day. They are funny, smart, adventurous, and active. They are figuring out who they are and what it means to be growing up as a boy. We sometimes see boys in our Clubs who are struggling with certain aspects of their life. School may not be going well or they may not be good at sports. They may not have figured out how to fit in or how to deal with their emotions in light of a popular culture that promotes narrow ideas of “manliness.” We ask ourselves how we can help our young boys grow to be good men. What role can we play in mentorship and role modelling? How can we give boys that same sense of adventure that once dominated childhoods?
We’re working on kindness and respect so that boys’ relationships with other kids can be emotionally rich. We’re helping them with their homework so they can succeed in school. We’re making sure they have enough to eat. We’re running Jays Care Baseball Programs, Floor Hockey, and other gym programs. We’re facilitating as much activity and adventure as we possibly can. Our staff team of young men and women are serving as role models every day, helping boys see that the sky’s the limit; and that the Club is a place where you can laugh, cry, and express yourself without judgement. We hope that we’re one part of boys’ successful journeys to becoming the good men of tomorrow.
- Diane Entwistle, CEO