On Thursday, September 15th, Burlington Township High School hosted their annual Young Men’s Conference at Liberty Lake. The conference was attended by all 160 of Burlington Township’s 9th grade male students, as well as several district administrators, teachers and community leaders. The theme of the day-long conference was “Man Up: Accepting the Challenge of Authentic Manhood.”
Dr. Rafe Vecere, the Student Assistance Coordinator at Burlington Twp. High School, organizer of the Young Men’s Conference, and valuable support staff for Liberty Lake Day Camp, is passionate about the issues young men face in our society today. As he explains, “now, more than ever, young men need older positive role models in their life to provide direction, support and encouragement.” Unfortunately, young boys are under-performing and under-achieving in our society.
In his book, Why Boys Fail: Saving our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind, Richard Whitmire explores the significant gender gap in which girls are dramatically outperforming boys in American schools. Here are just a few of the statistics his books identifies:
- Only 40% of college graduates (bachelor’s) in 2010 were male
- In 2007, there were 2x more girls than boys in the National Honor Society
- Boys are 33% more likely to drop out of school
The Young Men’s Conference is a timely and extremely positive response to these issues. The program consisted of several team-building challenges, a relay competition, and a keynote speech delivered by Keith Elias, a graduate of Princeton University and former NFL player for the New York Giants. Elias has dedicated his life to being an inspirational public speaker. On his personal website, Elias describes his life’s mission of “Speaking Life” to others, “I believe we live in a time when our world is breaking apart at the seams and people are desperate for real hope and true life. People of all ages need to hear that there is another way, and the choice is theirs.”
|Elias speaking at Young Men's Conference at Liberty Lake on 9/15/11|
Elias’ keynote speech at the Young Men’s Conference focused on several important issues relating to young men today, including making good choices, developing an authentic character, not giving in to peer pressure and creating a future vision to strive for. Elias’ main takeaway message is to be “Be the Voice, not the Echo” – to be a leader, not a follower - just because "everyone else is doing it" doesn't mean that you have to. The boys of Burlington Township enjoyed Elias’ engaging and captivating style and they seem poised to be the Voice, not the Echo.
We’d like to thank Burlington Township High School for choosing Liberty Lake as the site of their Young Men’s Conference and we applaud them- and the 30 community volunteers- for addressing the very real and very serious issues facing teen boys in our society.