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Frequently Asked Questions
This Clip is from the film extras on "JOURNEYMAN - a documentary about rites of passage, mentoring, and male culture in America" produced in 2008 by Charlie Borden of MirrorMan Films, directed by Charlie Borden and Kevin Obsatz. To learn more about Boys to Men - a program that mentors boys aged 14-17, visit Boys to Men Mentoring Network. JOURNEYMAN won two Best Documentary awards in 2008. Boys to Men is an independent 501(c)(3) Charitable organization, not run by the ManKind Project.
- Why is this only for men?
- Is this some kind of fraternal organization like the Masons or the Elks?
- Why are you called New Warriors?
- What is this "shadow" I keep hearing about?
- What is this "initiation" I keep hearing about?
- Will my Christian beliefs be welcomed here?
- I heard this group ruins marriages, what about that?
- What about Gay men?
- Can I see what it's about first?
- Why are we asked to carpool?
- What if I decide to leave? How will I get home?
- Why animal names?
- Why have people called this a boot camp?
- What else do you do?
- Are there other trainings after the NWTA?
- Are you just trying to sell me a bunch of products?
- How do you make money?
- Is MKP anti-religious? Are you Native American or pagan?
- Is the ManKind Project (MKP) a Cult?
- Are you really as weird as the Houston Press article says?
We believe that men have important work to accomplish in helping one another and learning to trust each other. The work we do is about helping men step into a healthy and mature sense of masculinity. Through working with each other, we create the real possibility for effective and productive relationships with women - relationships based in healthy respect, self-reliance, emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion. We do our own work so that we can benefit everyone.
No. We offer a quality of community and connection very different than any fraternal organization that we know of. Being a part of the ManKind Project certainly does not preclude anyone from membership in any purposeful organization they wish to join.
The energy of the warrior is needed today from men and women of conscience. We distinguish ourselves from the "Old" warrior, the obsolete and morally bankrupt soldier of fortune, whose actions are centered around personal gain and whose purpose is harmful to himself and those around him. The old warrior uses machismo, rage and intimidation to get respect through fear. The New Warrior is a man who looks inside himself to do battle with the demons in his own soul and emerges with maturity and grounded strength.
It is the part of ourselves that we don't talk about. It is the part of our personality that we deny to the world, and often to ourselves. Though we didn't begin this way, the ManKind Project has incorporated symbols, archetypes and stories from Jungian psychology, made popular by men and women like Joseph Campbell, Robert Moore, Clarisa Pinkola Estes, Robert Bly and many others. You can read about the framework of Jungian beliefs HERE. Archetypal language and symbols are not the only frameworks we draw on. There are many ways to approach personal growth, yours will likely be welcomed.
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What is an initiation?
In almost every global culture, rites of passage taught boys how to be men and become productive members of the ‘tribe’. Often these experiences were harrowing and physically painful. These days, that old kind of initiation is no longer appropriate, safe, or useful. (though dangerous initiations are still occurring in gangs, fraternities and adolescent acts of rebellion) Initiation – MKP has created a modern initiation for men. The modern initiation is safe, non-shaming, and focused on the problems that face men in the 21st century. We conduct an initiation because we believe it is absolutely necessary for a man to learn in an unequivocal way; what he is capable of, why he is here, and how to engage fully in his life.
With this knowledge, a modern man is freed to make choices, take risks and assume full responsibility for his life. This is not a hazing ritual or an entrance to a fraternal organization; this is a challenging 48 hour experience that will likely have life-changing effects. Not every man is ready for our training, but every man can gain something when he is willing to take that step. Our training may have aspects of other workshops you have experienced, but the power of initiation is in the challenge. This is not a spa, not a retreat, not a weekend getaway. It is an entry point into a new way of being you.
Emotional Intelligence is the practice of learning to recognize and respond to emotional stimulus in ourselves and others in a healthy, positive, and effective way.
Many men have been taught to value thinking and to distrust feelings. They have been desensitized, taught to endure pain without complaint, and told that it is an honor to sacrifice our bodies for society. As a result, many men suffer from isolation and are prone to addictions and to acting out their feelings in dysfunctional ways. Many are afraid of intimacy, both with men and with women. They hide behind masks that are brittle and in need of repair.
Many men are sad, lonely, frightened, angry, and ashamed, and don't even know it. And with the loss of their feelings, they also lose what is most precious to them: Their ability to value their world and to hold life dear.
Other men know their feelings perhaps too well. They have learned to indulge in their feelings and use them to manipulate others, often the ones they love most. They lack the ability to stand in their own authenticity. Lost in their feelings, they too lose what is most precious to them: Their ability to be trusted and loved.
On the New Warrior Training Adventure men re-discover their feelings with their feet on the ground. They begin to learn to clarify what they're feeling and to express those feelings directly, powerfully, and authentically. They begin to learn to balance the depth of the heart with the wisdom of the mind. If this kind of authenticity sounds attractive to you, the NWTA may be for you.
Thousands of Christian men have attended and greatly benefited from the NWTA. Many pastors, ministers, and priests have participated in MKP and are still involved in the organization. There are Men’s circles in the ManKind Project made up mostly of men from the same church. There is room for you here. Our core values align very well with Christ's teachings and can augment a man of faith's ability to navigate the world with clarity, a deep sense of purpose and joy.
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I heard this group ruins marriages, what about that?
Some men come to the New Warrior Training Adventure feeling stuck, frustrated, powerless. They may be looking to find the energy to make powerful changes in their lives, and our intention is to empower men to create the lives they want. For some men this will eventually mean choosing to leave a relationship, a place, or a job (though men are strongly discouraged from making any major life decisions for 6 months after the training). Just as likely, a man will rediscover the passion, love and connection that he felt when he first entered a relationship and return from the training with renewed energy to make his relationship work. Men who have attended the NWTA have the opportunity to co-create incredibly strong relationships with their wives and partners, their children and their co-workers. Our goal is to help them clarify their choices, and find the passion to make the changes they choose.
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What about Gay men?
We welcome gay and bisexual men to the NWTA. The New Warrior Training Adventure, and our men’s circles, often give gay men the opportunity to create strong and supportive connections with straight allies. Straight men have the opportunity to examine their internalized prejudices and take responsibility for their feelings and actions, learning to value differences and acknowledge similarities. Multicultural awareness is one of our core values as an organization and we take pride in the work we’ve done to create productive cross-cultural dialogues over the last two decades. We will never try to change a man’s sexual orientation. Read about our policy on sexual orientation here.
We create trainings and circles in which all men are welcome to discover their deepest truths. We welcome men of all sexual orientations: gay, straight, and bisexual, including those who identify as having unwanted same sex attraction, to do their own work as they define it, to respect the identity and value of others, and to take responsibility for the impact their words and behaviors have on others.
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Can I see what it's about first?
The ManKind Project, through our Community Centers across the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, German speaking and French speaking Europe, and other smaller developing centers, conduct regular peer mentoring groups called "Integration Groups" where men join one another in providing ongoing challenges and support through all the stages of a man's life. There are often opportunities to join these men and experience first hand the commitment and connection of MKP men. Contact a local community representative to find a men's group near you.
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Why are we asked to carpool?
We ask all men who come to the training, including staff, to carpool. Occasionally there is limited parking space, but our primary reason for car pooling is to begin to challenge the isolation with which many men live their lives. Great friendships have been borne between NWTA participants simply by sharing the journey into self-discovery with another. We also take our environmental impact seriously, and carpooling is a significant way to shrink our environmental footprint.
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What if I decide to leave? How will I get home?
When you arrive at the training site you will be asked if you are willing to do everything necessary to get what you came for. If you decide you want to leave, one of the weekend leaders is likely to challenge you to stay by reminding you of this commitment.
Many men experience a time on the weekend when they no longer want to be there. Some ask to leave, and then decide to stay. The vast majority are glad they did. This is part of the process; we expect it to happen, just as many of us experience days when we would rather leave our jobs, leave our relationships, run away from our responsibilities. We will ask you if this is one of those times that staying might serve you more than leaving. And then, if you decide to leave, we will help you do that. If you decide to leave the training, we will either return your keys to you if you drove, help you make phone calls to arrange transportation, or have a staff member drive you home. You are free to go, and we will ask you if it’s what you really want for yourself.
In all cultures throughout the world, animals represent distinct archetypal symbols and ideas. The American Bald Eagle, the rattlesnake, the loyal dog. In many cultures, men and women adopted (or received through a ritual) a 'spirit' animal or a 'totem' that represented a companion, a helper and a reflection of who they are in the world. Men who attend the New Warrior Training choose an animal to represent and reinforce the learning that they receive from the process. For some men these animals serve as a reminder of what they aspire to in the world. For some men the animal names mean very little, but are fun. Often they change with time as men continue to grow.
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Why have people called this a boot camp?
Most of those who’ve called it that have never attended a real boot camp. It is our intention to create an experience that jars a man out of his complacency and engages him with a wide range of emotions and experiences. The ‘arc’ of an initiation is in three parts: the Descent – in which a man is separated from his ‘normal’ life, the Ordeal – in which a man discovers his worth by facing a challenge, and the Reintegration – in which a man returns to his life, reclaiming that which he gave up, leaving behind that which he does not wish to carry forward. This is what we create with the New Warrior Training Adventure. It is challenging. It can be frightening for some men. We ask men to go for it! To shed their fears and dive into the adventure – to fully immerse in the experience, to do whatever it takes to get what they came for.
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What else do you do?
One aspect of the NWTA is a deep examination of purpose or mission in a man's life. A man emerges from the NWTA with a clear understanding of his own unique positive purpose in the world, and some first steps toward living his passion. How he will carry this out will be up to him. Missions of Service are common throughout the ManKind Project communities. Men on a mission, who have the resources and support to pursue their dreams, do amazing things. Learn more about Missions of Service.
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Are there other trainings after the NWTA?
A wide range of advanced trainings are offered by the ManKind Project and numerous loosely affiliated organizations created and operated by New Warriors and their partners. Our members have created trainings to address multiple aspects of masculinity, multi-cultural issues, social justice work, work in prisons, work with veterans, work with teens, non-violence trainings, meditation and spiritual practices, religious explorations, support for elders and young men, fathers, divorced men, gay men, advanced leadership training, corporate training, individual coaching and counseling, shadow work, numerous body-mind and healing modalities, wilderness leadership and exploration, sustainability and ecological living, community building and more. Some of these trainings are sponsored by MKP Communities, others sponsored independently.
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Are you just trying to sell me a bunch of products?
No. We hope that you will participate in the organization at a level that you're comfortable. We hope that you will join a men's group - most of which are completely free.
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How do you make money?
The majority of our organizational income comes from the tuition for our trainings. We run with a balanced budget to the extent possible. The ManKind Project has no brick and mortar headquarters, though several of the individual centers do. We have a very small staff of paid employees, and some Committee Chairs are offered a small stipend for their service. We also raise money through donations, and through inexpensive membership fees in some areas. We earn a small amount of money each year through the sale of ManKind Project goods, like hats and shirts. No one ever has, and no one ever will, get rich from the ManKind Project. That's not what we're about.
NO. Men of many faiths are active in ManKind Project communities. MKP encourages men from all walks of life and all faiths to sit together with respect and acceptance. Men are often invited to share wisdom from their own faith traditions in our circles, enriching all of us with the diversity of spiritual practices available in the world.
Some of the ritual aspects of the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) are adapted from indigenous traditions native to the country in which the training is held. For most men – this symbolism is very useful as a way to get in touch with a connection to spiritual aspects of the personality and to create or recreate a sense of connection to nature, the ‘spirit of the land’ and the ‘spirit of the ancestors’ that lived here before us. We also work to respect and protect these first-nation traditions from exploitation.
You may have read statements that we are a pagan or neo-pagan organization. We’re not. There are certainly men who consider themselves pagan in our membership, along with Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and others. There are also men with no religious beliefs. We do not ‘worship’ earth spirits. If you are comfortable in your faith, recognize the valuable role of symbolism in spiritual practices, and open to the beliefs of others – you will probably find much to appreciate in our organization. If you have an exclusive belief system that does not leave room for acceptance and tolerance of other paths; while you are likely to find value in the NWTA, you may not feel comfortable associating with the diversity of spiritual practices and beliefs in our organization. There is no room in our circles for active intolerance, bigotry or discrimination. We do not allow any religious tradition to influence our training protocols, impose religious values on other men in our organization, or proselytize. Men are invited to connect with what is most true for themselves in their spiritual practice.
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Is the ManKind Project (MKP) a Cult?
Quite emphatically, NO.
There are many definitions of a cult, but most include 1) a single charismatic leader, 2) financial support by committed followers, 3) a unified dogma or mission, and 4) separation from the outside world.
By contrast, the three men who founded what became the ManKind Project gave away our primary intellectual property, the protocols describing how to run the NWTA, to our nonprofit organization many years ago. The two surviving founders, Bill Kauth and Rich Tosi, each receive royalties of less than $20,000 per year. The ManKind Project is a nonprofit organization which provides oversight of our 39 centers, and our leadership and management is extremely decentralized. We have a handful of full time staff and the highest salary in the organization is under $90,000. Most of MKP’s income derives from training tuition, and about a sixth of our total budget comes from member donations.
The ManKind Project has a set of core values: integrity, respect, generosity, accountability, multicultural awareness, and compassion. We have a common purpose: to create better men. We have no creation story, no mystical entities, no miracle stories, no icons, no gurus. Rather than offering a single perspective on how to live, a single belief system or mission, we will support you in living your own mission as you define it. Will some of your old beliefs be challenged on the NWTA? We certainly hope so. Our intention is provide an opportunity for you to re-examine patterns which limit your potential, with the goal of expanding awareness and opportunity.
As for separation from the community - the men in MKP are involved in all kinds of communities! We are a far too diverse and vibrant group of men to be closed off from the world. After getting involved in this work, most of us experience an expansion in the level connection we have to all the people we meet and interact with. We have weekly or bi-weekly peer mentoring groups that we can choose to be involved with. Some of us volunteer to work for our centers or staff our trainings - and a few have made this work our livelihood.
Many of us do feel strong loyalty for the ManKind Project, because the NWTA and integration groups have brought so much meaning to our lives. Our loyalty is similar to how many of us feel about other service organizations that bring value to the world. If you have visited the Rick Ross Cult Forum, you know he refers to the ManKind Project as a large group awareness training or LGAT. Rick Ross doesn’t call us a cult. The truth is, we do offer an awareness training – and we think growing awareness is a good thing!
We know we're a bit unusual, even controversial, but we're nothing like the Houston Press described in their article. Our Executive Director Carl Griesser has written a response to that article here. We are proud of who we are, the work we do and the positive impact we have had on more than 40,000 men.
I have more questions that aren't answered here, where can I learn more?