Special Thanks to:

Special Thanks: Fred Meyer Foundation!

I've said it before and I will say it again: This summer of Free Skating has been an incredible success. Thank you Fred Meyer for sponsoring this month and helping Joel's Place to be teeming with youth this summer. We are busier than we have ever been and so grateful for this opportunity!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Growing Up

"I'm sorry for Breaking the Fence Locking peice.  I know thut I did something wrong once the Fence brocke.  I Feel sad that I pulled this stunt.  I hope that you can Forgive Me for what.  I wish I hadn't did this.

     I received this note and a $20 bill yesterday.  A few weeks ago we had a couple of our members show up to Joel's Place four minutes before we opened.  They parked their bikes and then started pacing, feeling bored.  Soon one of them thought, "I wonder what would happen if we pushed on this locked fence gate."  Well what happens when two large teenage boys throw themselves at a fence gate is that both the lock and the gate breaks.  We opened our doors to let kids in and discovered a ruined gate that no one accepted responsibility for.  Hello, security cameras.  Hello, sit-down conversation with the boys.  Hello, uncomfortable call to their parents.  Hello, two week suspension from Joel's Place.

     There are several different schools of thought out there as far as disciplining the youth that we work with. 
  • One school says that they come from a difficult background and so they need to be shown grace at every misstep.  The result of that is usually that you have a broken down, thrashed youth center where the kids feel free to disregard rules and authority while trying to carve out their own sphere of influence and power.
  • One school says that there is a zero tolerance policy for the breaking of rules or property.  However if you value the center more than the youth it was built for...that sends a clear message to the kids.
  • One school says that kids are going to break things, so don't bother having anything of a high quality that you don't mind breaking.  I get it.  But again, the teens notice the quality that we set out for them. One of our staff mentioned last week that our members are taking better care of our facility since we began upgrading what we offer.
     What we did was suspend the two offenders for a week.  Their parents added on to that and told them that they could not come back until they had paid back the damage costs.  Yesterday was their first day back.  They were the same kids: laughing, running shouting to their friends.  However there was a subtle shift about them: a little more humble, a little more appreciative, a little more...mature.  This experience helped them to take some responsibility for their actions, take account of what was important to them and what was worth working towards.  They grew up a little bit this week.

     Growing up is not avoiding mistakes.  Growing up is using those mistakes as the fuel, the catalyst, for your development.  It is becoming a better version of you...a version that has been made stronger and more vibrant by the cutting away of illusion and fear and the reinforcing of integrity and character.  These two learned more about themselves; they learned about what they are capable of and what they value; they learned about responsibility and honor; they took a significant step towards becoming men.  That is worth a broken fence gate for me...

                                             but I am really glad they helped pay for it.