Tucked away in the woods, just beyond the din of Sylvania Avenue traffic, Jeffrey Prather spoke about the importance of training.
With other instructors, he taught self-defense yesterday and how to protect your loved ones. Although there was physical training going at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania Township, it is training to be a man or woman that the team is focusing on.
About 30 people of a variety of ages and from across the state and country are attending the four-day Warrior School being held at the Boy Scout camp this weekend. They came here from different backgrounds and for their own reasons. But they expect to leave changed.
Warrior School is designed to help society, said Mr. Prather, the program s founder. By teaching concepts from Native American cultures, Mr. Prather is hoping to train youths how to be men and women, and therefore productive members of society.
Our motto is that boys and girls are born, but men and women are trained, he said. You gotta start somewhere. No one else is out there doing this.
Mr. Prather has been teaching the skills used in Warrior School nationwide for several decades. He focuses on different aspects of training for different groups. Yesterday, at Initiation camp, designed for teens entering adulthood, he used everything from clips of popular movies to Native American hunting practices.
Camps have been held on the West Coast, overseas in Japan, and in other locations across the United States since 1996. This is the first in Toledo, and Mr. Prather said he hopes to return to Camp Miakonda every year.
The target audience for Initiation camp are youths ages 15 to 18 years, although anyone is welcome. For those who can t afford to pay the $650 fee per person, Mr. Prather founded a nonprofit organization, Answer To The Crises, to offer scholarships.
About 15 students from Toledo Public Schools and Toledo School for the Arts attended with the help of scholarships, joining another 15 people from throughout the region.
Ashley Cappelletty, 18, of Toledo, is a graduate of Initiation camp, but returned this weekend to further her training. She said when she attended the camp two years ago, she was working through a life that involved personal problems.
So many things bothered me still bother me but I have a support group here and these guys care, said Miss Cappelletty, who is now a freshman at Lourdes College in Sylvania. I left that camp two years ago with a sense that there are people out there who [care] about whether kids are growing up.
Greg Gladieux, 36, was one of the older participants in this weekend s camp.
Traveling from Alaska, where he works as a hydraulic engineer, Mr. Gladieux said he made the long trip because he heard great things about the program from a friend, instructor Jeff Skillman.
A Toledo native, Mr. Gladieux said he can already tell he s changed internally.
It s more of a feeling and hard to put into words, he said.
Warrior School participants go through four cycles of growth: purification, empowerment, impeccability, and questing. The transformation into men and women is completed when participants endure a night-long ritual that Mr. Prather said becomes very moving.
When the teens in the group return to school, they have mentors so that they can make good decisions with the information they ve learned.
It lets you discover who you are and what you re capable of, said Sarah Rogers, 16, who traveled from Farmington Hills, Mich., for the camp. And whether you know it or not, you want to know what you re capable of.
For more information about the Warrior School program, go to www.warriorschool.com.
Contact Erica Blake at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6076.