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BY Cory Smith Journal
BY Alex Via

“Cory you are such a jerk, in fact, I have written down in my journal how many times you’ve been a jerk."


We were a couple weeks into the summer and this was one of our young men yelling at me at about 10 PM after some teaching. He wanted to go on a week-long vacation with his family in the middle of the summer program. He asked if he could go, and I said no. Missing a complete week would set him back too much. I believed it was best for him to stay with his new brothers and focus on how he was going to grow that summer.


Was I trying to be a jerk, maybe…a little. I get it from my dad. At first glance, especially growing up, my dad was a hard, uncompromising man. He had his own way of looking at life. Yet now I admire his unwillingness to bend his convictions, and that is the role I play in the summer programs, I am the stubborn dad.


I have a very good friend in the Air Force. They have an acronym, FTSO. We use it all the time in Training Ground; it means Figure That [Stuff] Out. Does it sound harsh? Maybe, but the more and more we work with young men we understand that we learn by doing. Most of us have not had someone near us see what we can accomplish and believe in us enough to tell us to go for it. Our fears hold us back from even just trying it out. Nike had it right, “Just Do It.”


For example, I’m starting to work on my golf game this year, and I have to go get fitted for clubs. I’m terrified to go into a pro shop and admit I know nothing, to be a student. I’m afraid to risk an older man’s rejection. So how long will I wait, avoid, and deflect? It feels like the first time walking into a fly fishing shop, cigar shop, or a local garage to get your car fixed. If you haven’t done those things, the experiences can be terrifying, and in turn, hinder how we grow as men.


So in the summers, we use FTSO as an invitation into an opportunity to be changed. A chance to grow as a man. So if you will excuse me….I’m gonna go golfing.




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