Naked Men: The ManKind Project and Michael Scinto

The organization was supposed to make him a better man. Instead, his parents say, it made him a dead one.

Some of the more surprising names included El Lago Mayor Brad Emel; Houston Ballet Foundation Director of Marketing and Communication Andrew Edmonson; artist Brooke Stroud of the Menil Collection; Marty Kelly of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; and University of Houston Chair of Anthropology Norris Lang.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's name was also on the list. When contacted by the Press, he declined to comment.

Of course, merely being listed is no indication of what exactly anyone who went to the retreat did. For instance, one of the people who talked with the Press said he didn't engage in the nudity.

The Scintos came to believe that the group seemed to target vulnerable members of 12-step recovery groups and that its leaders appeared to practice psychology without a state license.

They were especially upset to find the names of several Roman Catholic priests on the roster and contacted the ­Galveston-Houston Archdiocese with this ­information.

Now, two years later, Scinto's parents, Kathy and Ralph, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Harris County against The ManKind Project Houston and Charles Kimberly Sawyer in an effort to uncover and expose once and for all what happened to their son, and why.

It almost sounds like the lead-in to an old joke: What do you get when you cross an ex-marine, a therapist and a business ­consultant?

Answer: The ManKind Project.

In January 1985, the three founding members of The ManKind Project, Rich Tosi, Bill Kauth and Ron Hering, took 18 men out on what was then called the "Wildman Weekend," in Haimowoods, Wisconsin. They conducted three more such weekends that year, initiating a total of 72 men.

Today, the retreats are called The New Warrior Training Adventure, and, according to the organization, more than 30,000 men across the globe have attended some 800-plus initiation weekends. The ManKind Project has 42 centers throughout the United States, Canada, England, Germany, France, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. None, however, are as active as the one in Houston. The local center's Web site boasts it has held the greatest total number of trainings anywhere, initiating more than 4,000 men since 1991 at an average of 350 a year. The Houston center is known simply as "The Weekend Machine."

The ManKind Project describes its training as "a traditional masculine initiation, but geared toward the modern-day man." Its stated mission is "to assist men in reclaiming the sacred masculine for our time through initiation, training and action in the world."

If this all sounds a bit New Age, there's a reason. The organization sprang out of the so-called "mythopoetic men's movement" that is in part derived from the work of famed psychologist Carl Jung, who studied the psyche by exploring dreams and myths, and the poet Robert Bly, whose best-selling book Iron John: A Book About Men offers a romantic view of masculinity. The overall aim is to empower men to regain their masculinity by looking at the male situation through myths and poetry. The avowed goal is to create caring and trusting relationships between men and to help men overcome their emotional wounds.

Many who join The ManKind Project say they feel the program is the most rewarding experience of their lives.

"It was a very positive experience for me," says Edmonson. "It really helped me to move forward in several areas of my life."

"I consider it more of a way of life than a membership," says George Chambers, a fourth-grade teacher at Houston's Pine Shadows Elementary School.

Artist Brooke Stroud no longer is a member and did not participate in some of the naked rituals during the initiation, but praises the organization.

"I guess I did the fraternity thing in college and did not want to go that route again," he says, "but overall, it's a good group and was a very positive experience."

Neither Kim Sawyer nor ManKind Project Houston's executive director, Scott Cole, returned phone calls requesting comment for this story. However, Les Sinclair, spokesman for the national parent nonprofit The ManKind Project, did.

"This is the best thing on the planet," he says from his home in Las Vegas. "The initiation is a real wake-up to life. We teach men to be accountable for the choices they make or the actions they don't take. We look at the emotional wounds that have taken a man's power away...He may have low self-esteem, he may feel like he doesn't measure up to other men, he's afraid of men or he's afraid of women, or he's afraid of life in general. We look at what was that key emotional wound that took his power away and set up some form of psychodrama for him to overcome. It is a very powerful process."

The procedures and protocols em­ployed at each of the organization's centers are carefully constructed and controlled, says Sinclair. And though each center is its own entity, filing its own nonprofit tax return, they all administer the same routine.

"The only difference between a training in France and in Houston," says Sinclair, "is that the training in France would be in French."

As for the nudity that takes place during the course of the retreat, Sinclair says, "It's getting real with our bodies and being men. It's of course nonsexual or anything like that. It's getting men to get beyond their shame of their bodies, like, there's nothing wrong with your body."

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There are many other programs like this, including in the realm of evangelical christianity: 

twentyfourseven worldwide

24-7 leadership academy

teen mania honour academy

They fulfill most all the conditions for cult-status, and while they promise to be a launching pad to a great life, there are many silent sufferers(myself included) who spiral off in to greater depression and woundedness...secrecy as to the process, complete misrepresentation, or lack of representation of what is involved in the process, a fanatical devotion to leadership, mind and body control..usage of trauma to invoke change etc...very dangerous so please be warned


A shot in the dark here, since this post is older...I, too, am familiar with 24/7 and its many dysfunctions. If you need to speak to someone about it, I can help.


@Colospgs_xplant E-mail is nerds 'five two' @ ....substitute the words for   numbers in there and you have my address. 


Ariel, I shot you an email; hope I got the address correct.

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