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Every year, MPYD takes a minimum of 45 male youths from John Muir High School on a four-day retreat to Cardinal Paint Leadership Camp in Big Bear, CA. MPYD staff, alumni, and mentors join the students to participate in a host of planned activities and events. The camp provides a safe non-intimidating environment away from the pressure of their peers. The camp experience encompasses three goals: learn life skills, obtain character development and have fun. The theme of “Building Real Men” is the focus of the camp retreat. It is the program’s objective that the youths leave camp with transferable lessons which will encourage a view toward channeling their aspirations and expectations to becoming better men through school and life.

The theme is reiterated through planned activities that provide a great opportunity for the youth to rigorously challenge themselves to achieve personal goals. A detailed itinerary outlining the daily events is provided to each youth, encouraging time management. Throughout the program, three guest speakers use motivational tactics to enable the youth to visualize and prepare for a future that provides a productive and healthy lifestyle within their family and local community. The structured workshops incorporate a combination of icebreakers and other activities. The activities concentrate on life skills and personal development by educating the youths about teamwork, conflict resolution, anger management, self-esteem, healthy decision-making, cultural awareness, professionalism and intellectual ability. There are two discussion groups which enable the youths to express their views on the necessities for becoming better individuals. The youths then write essays on short term goals which can be achieved before the start of or during the new school year. Athletic activities that are considered mainstays of the camp experience include basketball, flag football, rock climbing, soccer, swimming, volleyball and a ropes course. The ropes course is one of the major highlights amongst all the activities.

The camp gives the students plenty of quality time to build trust and lasting relationships. The campfire tradition is held on the last night and it provides a chance for each youth to open-up and speak freely. Every youth is encouraged to suppress their vulnerability in order to obtain a lasting trustful bond amongst their peers. Bursting with tradition, heartwarming moments and emotions, the campfire is an amazing conclusion to a successful retreat. 

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