• Commit to each other
  • Do your best
  • Be present
  • Pay it forward 

At CYO we have noticed that “Dedicate” is the pillar of relationship building that most confuses people. The word seems appropriate in the context of religion or marriage, but what does it have to do with young people and relationships? Well, to dedicate means to “devote one’s time, effort, or self to a particular task or purpose.” And this principle is essential to building quality relationships.  

To really build healthy relationships you must dedicate yourself to it; people need to commit to each other. It is a choice. Only through dedication can we begin the work building great relationships. There may be times when one or both parties find it difficult to put in the time, effort and energy it takes to shape – or reshape – their relationship. But good relationships are an investment. This means that we must dedicate ourselves to the process of relationship-building. By dedicating ourselves to it we are making a decision to value the people in our lives and work for their benefit, and our own.

To that end, we often give our participants a call to action. We ask them to name a relationship that they can dedicate themselves to today, this week, or this year. Through intentional thought comes intentional action – and we help our participants dedicate themselves to their most important priorities: the people in their lives.

Such altruism is ideal but the reality is often more complicated – so we always encourage our participants to simply do their best. By allowing people to do their best, participants are allowed to be themselves, make mistakes, learn, and grow. Doing your best also means approaching your relationships with an open mind and a willingness to forgive so that others may do their best. At CYO we celebrate the small victories. We celebrate our participants’ small advancements in our recreation opportunities, and in the relationships we build around them. By encouraging everyone to just do their best we make progress and through continual progress you can achieve amazing results.

Another simple-yet-difficult-to-master habit essential in building relationships is being fully present and in the moment. More than ever, we are distracted in our day-to-day lives. Text messages, emails, social media, work responsibilities, chores, homework, bills, and so much more distract us from our relationships. However, not at CYO.

At CYO, we have an increasingly valuable opportunity for participants: the chance to put your phone away and focus on building your skills as an angler or sportsman or woman – and focus on building the relationships that are most important to you. As you’re reeling in a catch or learning to shoot trap, your focus narrows, the constant commotion fades. You become fully engaged in the moment. Frogs in the pond rattle out their croaks. Birds circle their habitat. And you are free to focus on your relationships. To achieve this opportunity, however, you have to make time for it – dedicate yourself to it.

And finally, after having these rich experiences with us, we are thrilled when our participants give back by paying it forward through volunteering, bringing other friends and family members to CYO, encouraging others to experience our programming, or by sharing the skills they’ve learned with others. We’ve seen how relationships can flourish with our programming and traditional outdoor recreation, and we love to see our skills and methods improving people’s relationships. So, if you’ve dedicated yourself to relationship building at CYO and experienced the benefits, please: Pay it forward!       


How to find something to dedicate yourself to:


What it means to commit to someone, from a psychological perspective:


How to make and keep commitments to yourself:


10 Commitments to make you a better parent: