We had our first virtue camp in the state of Michigan last week at Wyandotte High School near Detroit with the Varsity football team. We had around 40 guys and most of the coaching staff.
It was a fabulous experience and it was right there at the high school. They are blessed with outstanding facilities.
The 4 virtues the coaches wanted to focus on were Brave, Consistent, Tough and Other-Centered.
There were a number of different speakers including two who gave testimonies about the consequences of drinking and driving.
One coach, Aaron Segedi, from a nearby school which is a competitor of Wyandotte - in their own conference, Trenton High School, spoke about his experience with cancer, getting 70% of his sister's liver, fighting for his life motivated by his little daughter ... how one of her "drawings for Daddy" pushed him beyond anything he could have done "all by himself."
I was so impressed. At one point Coach Segedi stated, "I'm so past the Trenton-Wyandotte thing, Trenton-Allen Park thing. Life is too short to worry about these petty things. Sure we compete on the field but after that life is so much bigger, so much more important, so much more urgent than some football game - a game. If I can help you become men, I don't care if you're on "my team" or not. I love you guys and I want the best for you."
How refreshing! I know numerous coaches who will not even talk with a local competitor.
As men and women leading our youth WE ARE THE ONES WHO NEED TO GROW UP.
Throughout the day we strived to help these young men LEAD WITH THEIR WORDS.
Most boys and men "prefer" to lead by example because deep down we are afraid. I asked the team straight up:
"If you were at a party and after a while the alcohol and drugs came out - who among you would be willing to say something to your teammates and leave?"
They were very honest. I think maybe 1 raised his hand - sheepishly at that. I called them on it. "Why? Why are none of you Seniors willing to lead?"
Again the honesty. A young man said, "I'm afraid no one would listen to me, that no one would follow me and leave the party."
Over the course of the camp, we divided the guys into small groups to get them talking about these issues. I listened in to most of the groups and at first the coaches leading the groups were doing most of the talking. During the last session I was asked to step in for an assistant coach who had to leave - well in that group I could happily hardly get a word in. I loved it.
They were listening. They were responding. They want to be challenged.
More to come!