Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual provincial convention of the Columbian Squires.
You know, with all of the false images of manhood there are out there in the world today, it was really refreshing to see a convention hall filled with 150 boys aged 13 to 19 behaving with dignity and respect. It was amazing! I know a ton of youth ministers who would say that to conclave 150 boys in a stuffy convention hall to listen to hours and hours of speeches would result in an all out riot. I will fully admit that before this weekend I would have agreed, but after what I saw at the convention, I have completely had a change of heart. Sure we weren't playing “get to know you” games or icebreakers or Knights, Horses and Cavaliers, but what we did do was conduct business meetings, develop long term visions, and hold elections that would rival the conduct of any corporate entity.
I have always held the not so popular view that you do not necessarily have to be entertaining to be engaging. I think that there is a growing trend towards “edu-tainment” as opposed to real academic growth and intellectual stimulation. Case in point, there are a bunch of experts and studies that would say that attention span of the average teenager is about 14 1/2 minutes...heck I have quoted the same studies myself! However I had a revelation a long time ago that these same teenagers will spend hours and hours on end playing video games while sitting stationary in front of the game console.
There is a difference between being engaged and being entertained....
Never was that more clear than at the Squires convention. Here was a bunch of boys who you would have normally expected to be sitting in front of the computer screen watching the latest uploads at failblog.org. Instead, these boys behaved in a manner fitting of their motto “Esto Dignus” (Be Worthy)
I know that there has been some confusion about the role of the Squires and how they fit in the world of Youth Ministry....and it would be understandable if someone were to think that Squires is the "youth ministry wing" of the Knights of Columbus.
But Youth Ministry is about Catechesis, spiritual formation, and the development of the individual. Squires is about developing the discipline, drive and leadership skills needed to succeed in any worthy endeavor. It is about learning how to put their formation into practice as Catholic gentlemen.
Now some would say that I am an idealist always looking at the bright side of things. And I will not deny that in any human organization there is always room for improvement.....but at the end of the day, this room full of boys, these Squires, whose friends were all probably sitting on a couch and playing Call of Duty, managed to raise, in one hour, $1200 for a boy with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma who was one of their own.Now that's Worthy.