1st Annual African American Males Weekend A Huge Success

Busloads of African American Boys and Men headed up I-5 to Anacortes and ultimately YMCA Camp Orkila last Friday as part of the 1st Annual African American Males Weekend (AAMW).

The weekend was the kickoff of a partnership between 100 Black Parents, an advocacy organization working to improve the lives of African American Families and their students, and the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s Camping Services Branch. The AAMW is a parent, youth, and family skills-building event designed to expose youth to new experiences and environments while promoting individual asset development, strengthen parenting skills, and building family strengths.

“Through our efforts to create sustainable, thriving communities we have to first look at the structure of the family and create a sense of community amongst them,” says Bookie Gates, African American Father. “We put nearly 200 African American men and boys in the same place where the expectation was nothing but family, fun, and empowerment and that’s amazing!”

Campers came from Seattle’s central area to as far away as Portland, Oregon and reveled in just being around other African American men and youth.  Activities included boating, arts & crafts, archery, pottery, field games, as well as a low challenge course, the giant swing, and the longest zip line in Washington State.  In addition to the activities, there was a Q&A with officers from the Seattle Police Department where campers could ask officers (dressed in street clothes) questions and interact. For many of the participants, the highlight of the weekend for many was the talent show and campfire where each cabin performed a skit on Saturday night.

“The most powerful moment to me was singing of Life Every Voice and Sing on Sunday before breakfast,” said Walter Williams, a father of two who attended with the Tacoma Urban League’s MIP Program.  “It really brought it all together for me and my boys.”

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