How Arowhon Supports

Boys and Young Men

The Arowhon Mission of

Positive Masculinity

It is core to our mission to raise boys and support men towards positive masculinities. We know that the culture pressures boys and men to assert masculinity through dominance and the constricting macho “sturdy oak” view of what a man should be. At camp we want to free boys and men from those limiting stereotypes, and support them to be themselves, each freely expressing their own individual version of their masculinity.

There is nothing negative about masculinity. What’s negative is defining it according to narrow stereotypes. Our program challenges boys and men to find positive masculinities through reflecting on what gender stereotyping does to them, and to figure out what positive masculinity means in the camp community and beyond.

"Arowhon creates a community where boys and men can embrace and be any version of themselves they want to be, at the same time you can feel that the community sends men in the right direction towards being their better selves and embracing positive masculinities"

- Max Muszynski, Director

How We Grow Boys

into Wonderful Men

In the 1990’s Arowhon stared doing weekly Sharing Circles with all our campers, to reflect on gender roles and issues. We kick off our masculinity work with staff at PreCamp, our goal being first for staff to know and align with camp’s values concerning gender:

  • We believe in every human’s right to express who they are, regardless of stereotypes.
  • We stand together against homophobia and transphobia.
  • We reject pressure on girls to primp and compete against each other for male attention.
  • We reject pressure on boys to act macho ” or “man up.”

At PreCamp we do the following awareness-raising workshops with staff:

  • Masculinity in camp culture and how it affects us
  • Sharing Circles + training to lead Sharing Circles
  • Interrupting homophobia and transphobia at camp

Counsellors who work with adolescents do workshops on creating inclusive environments that support diversity and build positive masculinity. The core questions we ask our staff are: What kind of community shall we create for the boys here? How will we lead them there?

In addition to Sharing Circles we do programs aimed at awakening boys’ inquiry into their definition of masculinity, to explore who they are versus who they feel pressured to be. One favourite is “The Mask You Live In.” It starts with a video, and then boys decorate their own masks, the inside for who they really are and the outside for the face they show the world.

Adolescent boys also reflect on masculinity in opening and closing ceremonies. The core questions we ask the boys are: What kind of man do you want to be? What kind of community shall we create in our male sections and beyond? How can you participate in doing this?