Dr. Mark Schillinger Guest Contributor
(Sterling Men’s Weekend – 1997; Legacy Discovery Weekend – 2010)
I graduated from my Sterling Men’s weekend in 1997, ready to begin the practice of becoming the man I always wanted to be.
At that time, I was going through a painful divorce and my teen son, Gabe, was struggling with his sadness and anger by missing school and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. It felt like Gabe was standing on a ship that was sailing out of the harbor and I was standing helpless on the dock, just watching him leave me behind.
I realized then that I could not go to my deathbed knowing that I didn’t give my best efforts to re-uniting my family.
Nothing Worked Until I Met Brad Leslie
In 1998, I heard about Brad Leslie and his Young Men’s Adventure Weekend program in Canada. I called Brad, and after hearing him tell me that I needed the help of a village of men to raise my son, he invited me to serve as a volunteer at the event while my son attended the camp as a participant.
Sure enough, both my son and I learned a lot from Brad about how to get along better. Magically, it seemed that years of tension between us were beginning to melt.
Inspired by Another Mentor
In the fall of the same year, one of my main mentors, Dr. Dave Stuart, took me on a trip deep into the desert, out near the Death Valley. Dave was a chiropractor who not only had been mentoring me with my chiropractic career since 1985, he was also teaching me survival skills on trips to the desert every year.
In the middle of nowhere, and out of nowhere, came this “aha” moment: I realized that I needed to create a non-profit, rite of passage initiation for Gabe and for other young men that included a way for them to be able to move on from their past emotional wounds. By doing this in a tight community of skilled male mentors, I knew that the young men could then focus on acquiring the skills they needed to successfully adapt to the challenges of the adult world.
Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend
I knew that by myself, I was not capable of running this type of organization that could support a new movement dedicated to helping young men make a smooth transition into young adulthood. In January 2000, with the generous support of many great men in the Bay Area, I founded the nonprofit, Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend.
Some of those men – all busy with work and families – are still strongly involved with YMUW to this day.
Now, after 48 rite of passage initiations, YMUW has transformed the lives of thousands of young men. I would not have been able to sustain this organization without the help of another mentor, Dr. Ichak Adizes, a world-renowned business consultant. Over the course of twenty years of consistent and strong guidance from him, the male leadership of YMUW has learned how to utilize each other’s unique talents, respectfully disagree with each other, make excellent decisions and implement them efficiently.
Lisa Ling of CNN Magically Appears
I’m on a men’s team with another one of my main mentors, Warren Farrell, who recently wrote the book, “Boy Crisis”. The book led Lisa Ling to Warren, who then suggested that she contact me. After weeks of collaboration, we figured out a way to have her and her video crew record live coverage of the YMUW.
After fielding all of the legitimate objections from some of our volunteers about why we should not ever have a woman at YMUW, we all eventually agreed to trust that Lisa would tell a positive story about the problems young men are facing. We also knew that she would then directly experience what’s it’s like to have mature grown men help young men learn how to channel their masculine wisdom intelligently.
Preparing for The Positive Future
By the time the Ultimate Weekend was over, the young men, volunteers, Lisa and her crew, were laughing, hugging and celebrating the love-fest culture that they had all co-created.
Who better than a feminist woman, who loves men, to tell the story about men doing good work in this anxious and toxic culture we live in?
When the show airs in the fall of 2020, YMUW will need lots of men who want to learn this work. From what I hear, YMUW is going to need to learn how to prepare for the positive future so that we can spread this work around the country.
Without the mentorship and support that I continually receive from the MDI men, there’s no way the YMUW or this story could have been told.
We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for!