Taking Back Our Streets: Spiritual boot camp

Spiritual boot camp gives boys, men a safe place to talk

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It's a place where boys and men can have a candid conversation that is confidential among the group.

No cell phone recordings are allowed. And this is no place for Facebook or any other social media.

It's called spiritual boot camp. And the popularity over the past six months is growing.

Galilee Baptist Church pastor Brian Wilson, the man behind the boot camp, says he believes it can change Shreveport.

KDKS 102.1 radio personality Marvin "Jabber Jaws" Williams Sr. is one of the men who have attended one of the boot camps.

He said he was impressed with the pastor's vision in giving back and getting young men involved and showing them a different way.

Williams has spent 37 years in the radio broadcasting business and knows all too well the power of music. He says videos also are impacting children's behavior.

"They want to play those roles. They want that lifestyle. They interact with what they are seeing and what they are exposed to."

While Williams knows music has an influence, he chooses to leave his listeners with positive words every night when he signs off.

That is the same spirit that squad leaders are hoping to create at Galilee Baptist's spiritual boot camp.

Wilson, the pastor, said he first saw the idea of boot camp at a church convention in Indianapolis and thought it would be good for our area.

"I recognized the impact that it was having on men where men were standing up and being on one accord.

"When they were quoting Scriptures and the response they had, it inspired me to bring it back to Galilee and, more specifically, to this community and to this city.

For the past six months, spiritual boot camp has served as a safe place for young boys and men to connect.

It's a place to be transparent in a confidential setting.

There are squads (groups) with squad leaders. The groups discuss issues in their lives.

"We have young men that have issues," said Jerod Jones, squad leader for boys 11 to 17 years old.

The pastor "... wanted to make sure he had someone who was young enough in the church to be able to mentor them and say 'Hey, whatever you are going through, you have guys that have gone through it. You can talk to them about it'," Jones said.

Wilson said the community has to do its part and believe in second chances.

"We don't allow men a space to grow. And what I mean by that is if a man is a certain way at a certain part of his life, oftentimes we perceive him for being like that for the rest of his life."

A perfect example of a man who has grown into his faith is Shreveport native Stromile Swift, the pastor said.

The former NBA player will be the speaker for the boot camp this weekend.

The camp will be held Saturday at Galilee Baptist starting at 8 a.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Boys and men are encouraged to attend to join the conversation.

Breakfast will be served.

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