The Character Movement


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.



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. 


I remember a student named Anthony

At Youth Frontiers, it’s our mission to positively impact school communities through our retreats. One of the more wonderful parts 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 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