Deborah Thorne, founder of a conflict resolution service for youth, knows what she is doing is not politically correct. But she also feels the summer day camp for African American boys she will launch June 23 is so desperately needed that she is willing to accept that label.

A conversation Thorne had with one of her 12-year-old clients highlighted just how dire the situation is.

“A young man came into my office. He gets in trouble quite a bit. I told him I was doing a day camp for African American boys (run by African American men) and maybe we could talk to your mother about you attending,” recalled Thorne, who said the child lived with his mother and adult sister. “His response was, ‘Why would I go to that? All they can teach me is how to gang bang and kill people,’ and he was serious,” recounted the counselor, the incredulousness still evident in her voice.

That stunning response coupled with the fact that she sees far too many African American boys whining or gossiping with girls made it plain to her that many of these young men do not know what it means to be an African American man.

On top of that, Thorne, who said her conflict resolution program sees many African American males getting into trouble, felt compelled to step up to the plate to make a difference.

She created Boyz 2 Men, a 10-week summer day camp that will operate from June 23 to Aug. 29, and targets boys ages 8 to 12. It will be run by African American males, and while she developed the program, calls it her “baby” and longs to be there to see how it operates, Thorne said it is critical to keep the integrity by having all the people involved be African American males.

“Our boys have enough women in their lives telling them what to do. My vision is that men are training our boys. We’ve assimilated by attempting to be politically correct (and include all kids), but we’re losing our children.”

The first two hours of each camp day, youngsters will spend playing chess and all kinds of games that make them think. Then at 9:30 a.m. daily they will meet with their male counselors to learn all three versus of the Negro National Anthem, and talk about whatever subjects cross their minds.

Next depending on the day, they will take a field trip around town addressing the theme for the day. Monday focuses on conflict resolution, and the boys will learn strategies such as anger management and anti-bullying techniques.

Tuesday is about the village and visiting places that represent the African American culture such as the African American Firefighter Museum.

Wednesday is volunteerism day, and they go to places like senior centers, and spend time at the Barack Obama campaign headquarters.

“We support him because he is an African American male, and our boys need to see that. They need to see that African American men do more than do drugs, sell guns, and gang bang,” explained Thorne.

Thursday is businessmen’s day, and the youngsters will wear a shirt and tie over their Boyz 2 Men T-shirts and take a trip to the bank to make a deposit each week.

“We are asking Broadway Federal to partner with us,” explained Thorne. She added that the weekly deposit will come from camp fees, so that at the end of the 10 weeks they have saved up $50. We are asking Broadway Federal to match the $50, and the idea is to get (the boys) into the habit of going to the bank.

This weekly banking will be coupled with financial literacy training.

Friday is just for fun, and the youngsters will visit beaches as well as amusement parks. The cost of this will also come out of the $130 weekly fee each camper pays.

“We’re asking parents to commit for 10 weeks, and if they can come up with the first $260, we’ll show them how to earn the rest,” said Thorne. The program founder said they are also seeking donations from individuals and businesses to help underwrite the cost of a one-week campership.

“We’re taking the first 40 boys who show up for this pilot program, but next year our goal is 120 boys,” explained Thorne.

People interested in the camp program can contact Kids First through: or call (310) 280-9035. Donations payable to Kids First Conflict Resolution with a note in the memo section referencing Boyz 2 Men can be mailed to 10736 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 404, Culver City, CA 90230.