In the fall of 1995, Ron “Xhongo” Johnson and an ad-hoc group of men decided to take men and boys from the community (brothers, husbands, sons, uncles, nephews, brothers-in-law, grandfathers and neighbors) on a camping excursion to rural Wisconsin. Two major objectives are to use the experience to establish closer rapport between the generations and expose inner-city males to a wider world view through the wonders of nature.
Started in 1995, this weekend camping trip has achieved iconic status in the Milwaukee community for surviving more than 25 years. It has exposed thousands of men and boys to life changing experiences and has become a highly anticipated annual event effectively known as JAHA Workshop's Annual Father & Son Retreat at Camp "Xhongo" Peace. Each year we take 100 to 150 men and boys to spend three days and two nights camping on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River. We leave the perpetual inevitabilities of urban life (screaming sirens, blaring horns, traffic congestion) to go pitch tents and sleep under the sky with the stars as our guiding light.
This camp experience is designed to create shared values through cooperation, goal setting, and teamwork, characteristics that are put into action each trip to build a tent-city called Blackhawk. Where we fish, hike, play sports and chess, and exhibit (learned) problem solving skills. Most importantly, however, we laugh and have lots
of fun. Additionally, while in our non-judgement zone, we hold facilitator led, age-appropriate, and empowerment discussions around the campfire, where every individual's voice is heard and respected. We mentor, build rapport, and allow the natural male bonding process to take its course. The ultimate goals of our programming components are the promotion of peace, and the building of community using restorative justice principles. But the camp's singular, most significant objective is supporting the development of boys to men.
Like everything else around the world, the Father & Son Retreat was not prepared for the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The effects of the Pandemic severely crippled the retreat, interrupting 20 plus years of consistency, and postponing the trip for two, full, years. We would like to resume the trip this year, and your financial support would allow us to do just that, picking right where we left off (prePandemic) intimately supporting the development process through which boys become men.
Thank you for the learning more about our retreat, goals, impact. With your support we can ensure that this is a free experience for the campers and build towards a permanent camp home, for year-round retreats.
Youth Development on the Cutting Edge
2803 N Teutonia Ave. Suite 1
Milwaukee, WI 53206
We hope to see you outdoors.
Djdade Denson, Camp Director
Long Live Xhongo