There are many stories that are full of hope and fun, and reflect the heart of our Camden Community. If you live on the Northside then you might have heard of the Boys to Men Club, or seen these boys around. They would be the ones out raking leaves, shoveling snow, selling candy bars and mowing lawns. They also have ice cream challenges, shoot off rockets, eat bugs and play games. Volunteers are known for knocking on doors most weekends making sure that every family in this part of the Northside knows that they are welcome — to play, to learn, to hang and to help.
The club’s founder, Nate Streeter, is no stranger to the Northside. After growing up here and marrying his Henry High School sweetheart, the couple decided to stay here and continue their story. Their love for the Northside is only preceded by their commitment to it. Nate and his wife Leah, along with Sanctuary Covenant Church, have formed this club where boys can have fun, build friendships and serve their neighbors.
Nate says he simply wanted to provide for local boys what he wanted when he was their age. “I see myself in them and I wanted a little more control over my environment.” It is a place to have fun and give back. He was quick to point out that this is an activity group, not a lesson group. They strive to give these boys the opportunity to take leadership in their life; to grow in strength and respect with responsibility. He believes that starting with our boys is a way to raise up our community and show the strength of these young men.
The club, designed for boys between the ages of 6-14, started with four sessions in 2014. Then in 2015, 51 boys from 27 different families attended the 18 sessions the club put on. In one year, the club saw over 30 volunteers get involved, 100 care packages given out after tragedies, bike tool kits given, Mother’s Day flowers given and 12 bags of garbage picked up — and that is only a fraction of what they do.
This group not only gives boys a safe place to hang out and have fun, but the boys also give back. It is an internal growth with external focus. They grow stronger when they care for each other, not just as brothers, but also for their neighbors.
Boys will be challenged; give back to their community; earn money; and have fun. It’s a devotion of and to our young men growing up in a stressful area, where there is immense pressure on these boys to grow up too quickly. You can hear them from Folwell Park when chanting their pledge out loud: Who are we? Boys. What do we aspire to be? Men. How will we do that? Serve. Earn. Challenge. Fun.
The group pushes hard to have volunteers right here from the Northside to help foster relationships and longevity. This is a struggle however, with the high turnover rate we have in the community. This past year alone, 30 families have left the Northside which makes connecting with the boys and their families difficult.
Living right near Folwell Park, my own boys look forward to joining Boys to Men when they have activities. It’s where they get to see their friends, hang out and maybe eat something gross, make some money, learn a skill or blow something up. They wish every weekend was a Boys to Men weekend.
Boys to Men will be at the Folwell Ice Cream Social on Thursday, June 16 from 5:30-8 p.m. at Folwell Park if you want to come and check it out. Otherwise, make sure to like their Facebook page, watch the video that is making its way around all the social media sites, visit sanctuarycov.org, and contact Nate Streeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-205-0425.