October 18, 2001


Summary: Boys Night Out follows last year's successful overnight for girls, but with different
activities and focus

by Kelly Kennedy
The Oregonian

   A lanky eighth-grader, bangs hanging in his eyes, stood in an Ogden Middle School hallway
with a can held at lip level.
   "Chug! Chug! Chug!" his classmates chanted, fists pounding the air. Then they held out their
arms to see whose shook the hardest.
   "I just chugged 10 energy drinks!" a boy yelled as he raced past on his way to the next activity
-- as much junk food as he could eat. "This is gonna be fun!"
   When 210 boys took over the Oregon City school for Boys Night Out, they knew anything
was possible -- even camaraderie, courtesy and kindness. For each good deed, they received a
raffle ticket for a prize drawing.
   "It's pretty exciting," Principal Carol Kemhus said. "Last year we did Girls Night Out, and the
boys said, 'What about us?' We thought, 'You know, you're right.' "
   So they changed the rules a little. Out went the nail polish primers and line-dancing lessons
from last year. In came an Oregon City vs. West Linn high school football game, a Michael
Jordan Imax movie and a basketball coach to talk about the virtue of being good. Two-thirds of
the school's boys showed up.
Loud but fun
   "This is much louder than school," 13-year-old Ian Davis said. "It's fun."
   Andrew Marshall, 12, pushed Derreck Potts, 12, down the hall on a scooter.
   "It's the first time doing Boys Night, and it's really cool," Derreck said. "The football game was
awesome, especially the hot dogs."
   As Andrew caught his breath, he agreed: "You get to meet everyone you don't really know.
But if all the girls were here, I think it'd be pretty cool."
   Kemhus corralled the boys' energy as they stayed up until 3 a.m. Their parents came at 7 a.m.
to pick them up. She also stopped the energy-drink chugging.
   "With the boys we thought they might need something more active than with the girls," Kemhus
said. "But we also want them to learn about being nice and not being bullies."
   Brad Smith, the Oregon City High School girls' basketball coach and Kemhus' brother, gave a
motivational speech about being good. It was a short speech.
   "It's fun to be able to see you guys now, and then to be able to see who you will be when you
get to my class" at the high school, Smith said.
   "For me, I was always the smallest kid in my class. I got around it by always sitting next to the
kid in the cafeteria who didn't have any friends. By the time I left high school, I was student body
president. That's what being nice does for you."
Being nice
   Smith explained to the antsy boys that what goes around comes around. "If you do something
good for someone, something nice will happen to you," he said.
   Then they were off. Kemhus and Smith seemed just as energetic as the boys.
   "The big excitement for the girls was to run through the hallways and give announcements on
the intercom," Kemhus said. "I think the boys are more excited -- maybe because they heard
what a good time the girls had last year."
   There were other differences.
   "One of our goals this year is work with each other, to be nice," Kemhus said. "The bullying's
got to stop. Often, kids will say something off the top of their heads, and it's not appropriate."
   Girls Night Out started hitting schools across Oregon a few years ago when Cindy Easton, a
teacher at H.B. Lee Middle School in Gresham, came up with the idea as well as a training
program for teachers and volunteers.
   Boys Night Out may be slowly catching on. A West Linn middle school recently organized
one, and middle school Web sites across the nation brag about their successes.
Full Esteem Ahead
   Kathy Masarie of Portland, a pediatrician who created Full Esteem Ahead's Raising Our
Daughters program and just completed a Raising Our Sons program, said having the girls paint
their nails and the boys go to football games is entirely appropriate.
   The Raising Our Daughters and Sons programs are 10-course lessons for parents to learn how
to better communicate with and build the self-esteem of their children.
   Parents organize in groups to work through the lessons with a volunteer from Full Esteem
Ahead. The first Raising Our Sons group has just been organized in Beaverton.
   "I think that's perfect," she said. "There's a lot of evidence that girls don't open up with boys in
the room, and I'm sure it's the same in some ways with boys.
   "I say eliminate all the barriers you can. I'd love every school to be doing it."