I’ll give it to the Colorado based Friends First; the website advertising their summer conference is pretty rock and roll.
But the message that that conference is promoting is just as traditional and conservative as that of the larger abstinence movement. This can be seem in organization’s goals which include:
- Sponsoring events which support and promote the abstinence message to teens
- Providing a resource to health advisory committees, community leaders and policy makers on issues which promote abstinence until marriage
The summer conference is designed to reinforce these goals during an intense three days, which the group’s website, YouTube video, and MySpace page make look a lot like summer camp.
But at this camp, kids participate in activities designed to keep them sex free until marriage. I have a feeling after-hours make-out sessions are frowned upon.
In addition to activities, a big part of the conference involves listening to speakers like the Black & White duo (yes, one is black and one is white), a pair who, "DARE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH, TO A TRUTH OR DARE GENERATION!" (The caps are theirs…).
During other sessions participants hear from college students like Mary Farrenkopf who warned last summer’s participants of the risks ahead. "Saying no, that’s easy," she told her local paper. "But try it when someone is in your face, when your friends, the people you live with, are pressuring you."
I don’t know about you, but I think peer pressure is usually a little more subtle than a group of kids cornering the lone dissenter and telling her she won’t be cool unless she smokes a joint or gives a blow job…
Friends First has worked hard to appeal to teens and tries to speak to young people in their language. The problem is, they’re not speaking to teens with respect. Instead, their approach is to use scare tactics and to assume one set of morals fits all. Doing this talks down to teens who the organization thinks can’t handle information about sexuality. And that’s something that no amount of youth directed media can obscure.
Photo provided by Ian Wadie