The Young Men's Leadership Retreat is a part of the Young Men's Leadership Program (YMLP), an initiative started by Chris Maxey, Will Simmons and Stan Burnside in 2014. Their motivation for starting this program came from observation of the communities around them: many young men on the island of Eleuthera are growing up without inspirational male role models and are finding themselves more consistently involved with criminal activity, school suspensions and expulsions, gang-related activity, domestic violence, and substance abuse.
The first retreat, a 10-day long event, was held in the summer of 2016. Fifteen young men were challenged physically, mentally and emotionally as they began to learn to value themselves and to take pride in their work. Following the retreat, the mentors have remained in contact with each of the participants, sparking discussion about how this program may gain momentum moving forward. Chris had the idea to host a conference, to be directed by Brad Zervas, a long-time colleague in association with the Boys Hope Girls Hope organization in the US, and The Boy’s Club of New York. Prior to the conference, Brad spent three months in South Eleuthera hosting community forums and meetings with local officials, educators, clergy and other leaders to advance the notion that there was a need to create a program that would be supported by a broad coalition of organizations.
On March 29, 2017, community leaders, educators and other concerned citizens from South Eleuthera were joined by thought leaders from around the world for three days to explore and exchange ideas and models that help to propel boys forward and provide them with the direction and counsel needed to realize their full potential and promise.
Conference attendees heard from a broad range of presenters - presenters who have earned the respect of their peers by pioneering some of the most innovative practices impacting the lives of boys world-wide. By all measures it was a powerful and moving three days and helped to provide the South Eleuthera community with a foundation from which to build upon.
David Banks, President and CEO, Eagle Foundation
Pastor Lincoln Young, Church of Christ
Shawn Dove, CEO, The Campaign for Black Male Achievement
Bill Strickland, CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation
Ray Lewis, Executive Director, Eastside Young Leaders Academy
Tavarrie D. Smith, Founder, Esq., Project Youth Justice
Kiril Sokoloff, Founder and author, 13d Research
Alfred Sears, past Minister of Education, Attorney General, and Chairman of the College of the Bahamas