There is a crisis of manhood in America today. The numbers are astounding: One in three children live in fatherless homes. Since 2011, women receive more college degrees than men. And recent decrees by the Obama administration will now see our wars being fought by women and homosexuals – it’s enough to make a guy like me be glad I won’t be around to see what this country looks like fifty years from now, and get a knot in my gut knowing that my children most likely will. It makes me realize that my sons will need the skills to survive even more than I.
If you think like I do – that wisdom is more important than knowledge, and see very little of either coming out of America’s universities;
If you shake your head at today’s youth shuffling around the mall, looking like tattooed and pierced zombies-in-training;
If it disgusts you that the average 34-year-old American male spends more time playing video games than the average 12-year-old boy;
and If you remember a time when a male of eighteen was considered a man, and expected to work like one, and you lament that so many of today’s high-school grads…aren’t and don’t;
This article is meant to bring you hope.
With three sons of my own, I take the issue of raising Godly sons as seriously as my spiritual walk, my marriage or my business. If you have sons, you probably feel the same way. If you are blessed with daughters, I hope you are fervently praying for them to find true men who will be able to give them what they truly need – provision, protection, affection and direction.
We do everything we can as a family to be prepared for an uncertain future, from stocking the larder to making firearms training a regular family event. To that end, we homeschool our children, because as Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged,
“I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to chaos with which he’s unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.”
If you aren’t sure what I mean, just google “pop tart pistol.”
Sometimes I feel like the world’s worst prepper. I am a videographer by profession, something that will be as useless as paper money in a post-collapse world. I never hunted as a kid, and can only wish someone would have made me join the Boy Scouts. But we all have to start where we are and work with what we’ve got.
I had no say in my upbringing, but I can control that of my children. And with a farm to manage and perhaps protect someday, I’ve decided to invest my time and energy into ensuring my children have what they need in terms of survival knowhow, even if that means they have skills that I don’t.
As our kids get closer to completing their high school curriculum, we’ve had many family discussions about their best options for continuing their training and education. My boys, especially, are looking for more “real world” skills. For my part, I’m more convinced every time I turn on the news that emergency skills training will incredibly valuable in the years ahead.
Most of all, I hope my kids’ll find a way to continue their spiritual growth long after they’ve left home to take on the world.
Several years ago we found an amazing course of instruction tailored to making young men into well-trained first responders capable of handling almost any emergency. It’s called the Air Land Emergency Resource Team, or ALERT for short. In the interest of full disclosure – I receive nothing for recommending them to you, except the hope the ALERT program will still be around by the time my youngest is graduating.
It’s a one-year program that takes young men just out of high school and gets them trained up on a whole host of skills. For example:
Emergency Medicine – Paramedic
Aviation – Flight Training
Rescue SCUBA and Aquatics
Technical and High-Angle Rescue
Building Trades – construction, electrical, HVAC, plumbing
Sawyer and landscaping
The International ALERT Academy is headquartered in Big Sandy, Texas, where they have turned a defunct 2,600-acre college campus into something like a combination between a Boy Scout camp, a Monastic order and the United States Marines. The entire one-year course takes place here, with the exception of various “deployments” undertaken as they travel around the world on missions that include disaster response, humanitarian aid, search and rescue and missionary security.
These seventeen to twenty-five year olds are treated like men, and not surprisingly they act like it. They are given man-sized responsibility from day one, and are expected to embrace their calling to take dominion over themselves – and then the world.
It isn’t a course for adjudicated youth or problem children; but rather appeals to an, ambitious “cream of the crop” of high-school grads who is serious about squeezing every morsel of training out of a fast-paced year. One example: each class or “unit” since 1994 has made a commitment to forego the distractions of music, movies and entanglements with females altogether for the duration of their time at ALERT.
Awhile back I was asked to be a guest speaker at a local public high school. If it’s been several years since you’ve walked the halls of one of those, you might be surprised, as I was, to see how much it has changed since I graduated in nineteen *mumble mumble*. I won’t bother with a litany of shocking things I saw that I’d file under “advertisements for home schooling,” but suffice it to say I was appalled. So few of the seniors I spoke to were capable of expressing themselves in complete sentences, looking me in the eye, or shaking my hand rather than grabbing their own crotch and grunting, “Sup.”
My first visit to the ALERT training center couldn’t have been more different. Every one of the square-jawed, uniformed young men I spoke with shook my hand with confidence, looked me in the eye and spoke with conviction about the things they were learning in the program. I was especially impressed at the level of spiritual maturity on display, as the men articulated their daily “wisdom searches” and other devotionals. Questions like “What makes you passionate about the future” produced instant, well-considered answers that left me tempted to send my daughters to hang around here once they are ready to find a mate.
I’m not normally the kind of dad who has designs on my children’s career or life choices once they get out on their own. I simply hope to make men out of them and then let God call them into service to the Kingdom. To that end, I am doing whatever I can to raise Godly men(a term I consider to be redundant), and will encourage all of my sons (and both of my daughters) to spend some time at the academy.
The ALERT academy was founded upon the realization that 100 years ago, boys aspired to manhood, not extended adolescence. Our grandfathers, at age 18, could build things, fix things, hunt, fish, skin, trap, and take care of themselves like men. By contrast, it seems today’s high school grads are more likely to be experts at playing HALO or Minecraft, but little else. Americans today spend 25 billion dollars per year on video games – coincidentally the same number of hours spent on facebook annually. ALERT set out to change that by giving men the skills to make them confident, competent and spiritually mature leaders in the real world. Their first responder training makes them especially helpful in any kind of crisis, and well inured to challenging circumstances.
In addition to the one-year course for men, ALERT hosts an annual one-month summer course called “Quest” for boys aged 14-16 who want a taste of what the full ALERT responder course has to offer. Last year my oldest son attended this course, and even in one month’s time, I was impressed at the air of quiet competence he developed while there.
For girls, there is a one-month summer course called STEP, which stands for “Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness.” It teaches a range of similar subjects in a female-only environment. Our sixteen-year-old daughter attended somewhat reluctantly, but afterwards had this to say about the experience:
“At STEP I got more than just survival training and life skills, I learned the importance of teamwork and getting along with a big group of people. Through daily devotionals and sessions, I learned so much about God and how big He really is. I made great friends at STEP and I’m excited to go back for STEP Advanced.”
The cost of the full year course ranges between seven and seventeen thousand dollars for the year, including tuition, room and board. The price depends on the advanced skills the responder chooses to pursue. The course is broken up into three phases, and some attend just for the initial “basic” portion of the year. The men wear uniforms, carry rank, live in barracks and do PT daily while at the training academy, but with the exception of the Law Enforcement track do no training with weapons or hand-to-hand combat. That’s something I’d like to see added if they could find a good instructor. Every stage of the training is based around a solid Biblical curriculum that, by the end of the course, gives each man a grounding in the principles of Godly manhood.
I’ve now visited the ALERT campus several times, and always come away astounded by the men and the program. We have decided as a family to support ALERT with our donations as well as by sending our children there, because we want to see this program succeed, and believe it is worth every penny, and then some.
About a third of those who graduate from ALERT go on to join the military. Another third enter the mission field, and the rest move on to other endeavors. No matter what they choose, however, they will have garnered a tremendous skill set in a positive-pressure environment, and will be ready to face whatever the future holds.
In the Army I learned the maxim, “The more you carry in your head, the less you must carry on your back.” Training my sons in emergency preparedness gives them a great head start on developing a full set of survival skills. And unfortunately, I fear they’ll need it sooner rather than later.
About the Author: Chuck Holton is a former U.S. Army Ranger and now works as a freelance war correspondent. He is the author of several books, including Making Men: Five Steps to Growing Up.