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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Where have all the men gone? I found one...

A while ago I wrote a small piece on ‘Where have all the men gone’ and posted it on a forum, it was regarding our young men of today and how they may have lost their way and what can we as men do to help and our we as men failing them.

The response I got to it was quite unbelievable to say the least only a few people understood what I was trying to say some of which were women. The majority tried in various forms to absolve responsibility by taking it either personally or handing it over to the powers that be or coming up with some crazy suggestions like ‘gas them all’.

It was not intended to be a personal attack on anyone rather a general statement about us men asking way it was that we are not stepping up and teaching our young men what it means to be a man.

I may be completely wrong here in which case I apologise, but I do feel that we (men) are failing our youth today it is not just down to the government, youth organisations or even women to guide and support our young men. I believe it is down to us men and it does not require a lot from us either. I would like to compliment and congratulate those of you who are doing something towards guiding our young men of today of which I am sure there are a few.

I would like to introduce you to a good buddy of mine some of you may know him, namely J.P. (John Paul). J.P. has decided to do try and make a difference and he has reached out and grabbed the bull by the horns. He has a young man under his charge and since working with him he has been able to encourage to try different approaches to how he leads his life, it is early days yet but already he has stared to change things in his life, even some of his mates are coming onboard because of the way J.P. is approaching it. He is trying to create a healthy community of which the young men he encounters can take ownership of; thereby they are making the choices and doing the work with his guidance. This is a shared experience which in my view is a more holistic approach rather than standing there and telling them were they are going wrong for example in programmes like ‘Boot Camps’.


When J.P. entered into the mentoring programme in Essex, during his induction he became very aware that out of the twenty or so volunteers there, that there were only two men of which he was one, he has just informed me that the other man has since left the programme.

J.P. believes, as do I that our society is rapidly losing or has lost compassion and respect for nature's wonders and that it is up to us as responsible adults to help make our world a better place. Providing bushcraft tutoring for youth groups such as the Scouts, Guides and Army and Air Cadets and for MIND and more recently the Open Door mentoring scheme, J.P. is already making a difference and I salute him and respect him in what he is doing.

His priority is to guide our youth closer to nature, by helping individuals from every walk of life to step back from the stresses of the modern world. He encourages their understanding and respect for Mother Nature not by just teaching them how to survive, but how to thrive and spend time comfortably in the outdoors, being able to observe the daily pattern of nature's wonders as they unfold. J.P. uses nature and bushcraft as a therapeutic tool and as a volunteer for Open Door which helps children in care, young offenders and potential offenders to deal with the problems that today's society throws at them, by teaching them Nature's Ways.

This is close to JP's heart and he always has time and a helping hand for any enthusiastic budding naturalist or Bush-crafter. So, if you need some help or would like to know more about mentoring why not give him a call I know he would love to hear from you.

This charity is based in Grays and according to J.P. they are in desperate need for male role models for mentors, so if you're Male and live in Thurrock or any other area for that matter please contact them through the link above or why not give JP a call on 07927232152 or get in touch with your local volunteers organisation.

Since 1976 Open Door has been involved in many innovative projects in Thurrock, including a low cost accommodation project for young people, Information and Advice sessions, school Outreach and Youth-line to name but a few. As a charity they rely on grants and donations to enable them to help the people they work with. Open Door employs 24 paid members of staff with a further 21 volunteers and Management Committee of 8. In 2005 Open Door provided help and support to over 13,500 people in Thurrock.

In conclusion I know that people have very busy lives today as mine is very busy also, however every little bit helps, helping for one hour can be just as important as a lifetime of volunteering, if you are able to help one young man to get themselves back on their path through some advice or shared life experience you have had.

I feel sure many people will disagree with me and that is your right just as it is my right to express my views and feelings, what I would say is this, why not turn your views into action. I would be very interested to hear about your experiences working with young people which I would be very happy to post on here for the inspiration of others.

Best wishes to you all and a safe journey.

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