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How To Help Black Men Become Better Through the Power of Travel 

By Leroy Adams of Culture Travels

Boyz N The Wood—an outdoor retreat program that brings Black men together for rest, brotherhood, and reconnecting them to the outdoors—is providing a blueprint for how to help Black men through the power of travel. 

Throughout the year, I join the group on their retreats, capturing the stories of the men, joining them in activities on the agenda, and documenting the impact of these retreats. Last year, it was their trip to Seattle where I discovered how these trips allowed Black men, whose youth is often fed to jail cells, to return to their childhood through a camping experience. While in Minnesota, this return to youth and fun remains present, and this time, it was accompanied by discussions on ancestral healing practices and personal growth while discovering ourselves on hikes through snow-covered mountains or skiing across frozen lakes. 

Boyz N The Wood reminds us that travel and connecting to the outdoors can lead to self-discovery, strengthen brotherhood, and build better men. Below, I share three ways this happens and include voices from a few of the trip’s men who validate this transformation. 

The night was as black as the long night (there is no Night King in this story). Beneath the stairs that led to the lake was a glowing green light that ended when it touched the ice. Blinded by the darkness, we used our phone lights to guide us across the two feet thick ice. True Game of Thrones fans will recall the scene of the dead army crossing a frozen lake in episode six of season seven. That was us, except very much alive and afraid of this ice-breaking beneath us. Oh, we laughed as well. What was going on? We’re in Minnesota in the dead of night with the galaxies as clear as day above us, walking, well sliding, across Bearskin Lake frozen with ice two feet thick…on a Thursday night! 

Discovering New Places: The Healing Power of New Environments

Collectively, in this new, scary, and unbelievable experience, we were settling in, embracing the environment and the brothers with us. The cold, fresh air filled our lungs as we practiced patience and teamwork to cross the ice safely. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that some brothers were not down with the after-dark arrival time. “It’s something about getting to a place before the sun is down for me,” shared one of the men from Florida. “I need to know where I’m at and, “… before he could finish, another brother completed his sentence with, “and what’s around me,” both confirming (and validating) what women say on social media about being able to go “brainless” when they’re with their man. We’re always on guard while they can rest their minds. Perhaps it also reveals the lasting effects of the generational trauma from sundown towns. Whatever it is, some brother made sure to be in the van that would stick to a timely schedule. I missed that van. 

To read the full story, go here.

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