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What Viktor Frankl can teach us about character.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Youth Frontiers’ mission around character and community is as important as ever. Maybe even more so … As our typical daily life is being upended, and our way of being in community is changed, we have the opportunity — and the moral obligation — to show young people the importance of rising up to embrace character. We must show our children what is noble, what is good, what living with character looks like in times of difficulty and suffering. This is not only good for our larger community; it is also good for our children’s sense of well-being.

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What Mr. Rogers can teach us about character.

“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” — Fred Rogers

In this time of social distancing, it can be tempting to forget about the concerns of others and focus instead on self-preservation. Many of us are trying to regain our sense of security by shoring up all of our resources — money, food, supplies, attention … even as our patience for loved ones in close quarters may be running out. This is an understandable response, yet it is a poor way to live. If left unchecked, we’re in danger of becoming a mean and miserly people.

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What Charles Dickens Can Teach us About Character

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness … It was the spring of hope. It was the winter of despair.”

Charles Dickens understood the complexities of life and the character that surfaces during times of adversity as described in his classic, “A Tale of Two Cities.” Great stress reveals the best and the worst of our humanity; it exposes our innate fears and challenges the resilience of our hope.

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Youth Frontiers’ COVID-19 Response

Youth Frontiers Logo and "Character Matters"

Friends of Youth Frontiers, 

In these times of challenge, our character will define us as a people and a community. 

There is no question that the current health situation due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting our retreats and our work with students, educators and community members. However, in times of fear and suffering, our mission — to inspire character and build community — becomes even more critical. Regardless of this present and evolving challenge, we at Youth Frontiers are committed to continuing to deliver messages of character. 

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be in touch with you to share ways in which YOU can partner with us to make sure our young people and those in our community respond to difficult times with character.

The health and wellbeing of our community is Youth Frontiers’ priority. While our response could evolve as new developments and recommendations emerge, we have decided to postpone the Counselors Breakfast in Omaha, NE, the Ethical Leadership Luncheon in Milwaukee, WI and Annual Event in Minneapolis, MN. We are postponing our retreats until Friday, March 27. We are also currently reevaluating in light of the current school closings how we continue to deliver our mission in a safe way that aligns with current health recommendations. We will continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Let us come together to support one another and model the character — kindness, courage, respect and responsibility — we want our young people to demonstrate. In the weeks ahead, there will be opportunities to model this in our neighborhoods with people who may be homebound, interactions with strangers in the checkout line or calming conversations with our children, families and friends. 

In all of our connections, let us be people who hold fear at bay and instead inspire hope.

 

Joe Cavanaugh
Founder & CEO
Youth Frontiers


P.S. If you are planning to visit one of our office locations, please call our main line at 952.922.0222. 

A Story of a Courageous Student Named Anthony

At Youth Frontiers, it’s our mission to positively impact school communities through our retreats. One wonderful part of our job is that the same students we reach often impact us in turn. For our staff, these students and their stories are unforgettable. In this series, we remember them.

This is a story of a student and his display of courage.

I remember Anthony. 

Anthony was an eighth grader who was so excited about the day. He was running up to myself and other facilitators giving us high-fives, he was dancing in front of his entire class. He was just an awesome, really fun guy.

And so I was really surprised to learn that he was one of the number one targets at his school.

And I was more surprised when Anthony got up to share at the end of his Courage Retreat.

He said, “Hi, my name is Anthony, and my Act of Courage is to be myself and to quit trying to impress you all so much.

I know you all egg me on to make some really dumb choices and you push me around. I hear the names that you call me. And, I know that you say ‘you’re just kidding’, but honestly, you have no idea how much they impact me.

You have no idea how much courage it takes for me just to get up and come to school everyday.

So, I’m going to ask you all to please quit and I’m just going to be myself. I hope that you respect that.”

Nobody moved.

I mean for a solid minute. People just sat there with their heads down. Some people started to cry.

I don’t think anybody realized how much their words were impacting and hurting Anthony until he got up and shared his Act of Courage that day.

Coolest thing was that after he shared, old friends of his got up and they apologized to him for being a part of what was making his life so miserable at school.

And by the end of the day, there was that big smile on Anthony’s face again. But, we knew at that point that it was the real deal. It was a real smile.

He felt heard. He felt seen.

It was an amazing day. I’ll never forget, Anthony.


This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is honor.

Photo by Rory Björkman on Unsplash

Analogy of the Fog

I have always been fascinated by Ben Franklin. In his book, “The Autobiography of Ben Franklin,” he shares the story of the “Analogy of the Fog.” Franklin asks us to picture ourselves walking down a road on a foggy night. The people we see on the road far ahead of us and far behind us are wrapped in fog. But near us — no fog; all is clear, or so it seems … In Franklin’s own words, “though in truth, we are as much in the fog as any of them.”READ MORE

Nominate a high school junior or senior for the 2024 Minnesota Character Award for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship!

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