Book offers advice to teen boys about girls, deciphers adolescent codeFew people characterize “coming of age” as easy. The difficult time of transition holds challenges for each individual of both genders.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Few people characterize “coming of age” as easy. The difficult time of transition holds challenges for each individual of both genders.
Gary Campbell has counseled many of the community’s young people during his 14 years as Meyer Middle School’s counselor.
He knows the issues are painfully real and confusing to the adolescents with whom he works.
That’s one of the reasons Campbell said yes when book author Frank C. Hawkins called him to suggest they collaborate and write, “Boy’s Guide to Girls: 30 Pointers You Won’t Get From Your Parents or Friends.”
Messages on the book cover say: “What’s the best way to tell a girl you like her? What does it mean when a girl teases you? Should you go to the school dance even though you can’t dance? Why bother with girls at all when there are so many other things to do? This book will help guide you and answer your questions. It will give you pointers on how to handle yourself around girls…”
Campbell’s co-author, Hawkins, has written other books in the juvenile non-fiction genre.
Listening to his idea piqued Campbell’s interest -- the two agreed upon a contract and began work about a year ago.
Hawkins found the local counselor by calling the Wisconsin School Counselor Association, which referred them to Campbell, a member and committee chairperson.
Campbell said, “I’m not a person who ever intended to write a book.”
“Boy’s Guide” was officially released in February. It’s available locally for $9.95 at Freeman Drug, as well as online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
People can access a short video about the book on You Tube -- be sure to search for the book’s exact title -- as well as on other Internet sites.
Hawkins had already written a few things, which he sent to Campbell with instructions to “add to it.”
Some of the counselor’s advice ended up in special sections labeled “Scoop from the Soup” -- he clarifies that because of his last name, Campbell, MMS students dubbed him with the nickname.
The authors made the book’s 32 chapters short and easy to read. Their content covers the mainstream male-female issues that are usually difficult and awkward to discuss.
A sampling of chapters: What’s she thinking? What to do when you go out. How to break up. Getting dumped. Are you ready? Talking to parents.
Asked about the need for the book, Campbell said, “It’s the awkwardness of the age, along with what they’re seeing.”
He refers to the rapid-fire images young people see on the Internet, on TV, in games and via other media that tend to give wrong impressions. Adolescents often begin to see the images and form impressions before they have correct information.
Campbell said the kids commonly become aware of boyfriend-girlfriend status and other mature issues before they even know what the words or concepts mean.
Hawkins sought a psychologist’s help to see if the “Guide” books’ content is helpful, and the verdict was “Oh, yeah.”
“There’s not a lot of stuff out there,” said Campbell. “And what you see in those movies and on these (TV and Internet) shows is not helping.”
The authors wrote the book for boys ages 10 and up, but Campbell said it could be helpful for others.
“The adults who have seen it have said, ‘Wow, that’s good,’” said Campbell.
He said one lady joked that she needs a copy for her husband. A few young reviewers gave it thumbs up, and one boy read the book several times.
Campbell, a native of the Hammond-Roberts area, graduated St. Croix Central High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. He’s worked a total of 23 years in the field, with 14 of that being at Meyer Middle School.
He sits on the board of the Wisconsin School Counselor Association, the local Restorative Justice Program and the Forward Foundation supporting public education in River Falls.
Campbell has chaperoned for the past three years the 8th-graders’ trip to Washington D.C. Coincidentally, he met Hawkins while traveling on the 2011 trip.
The local co-author said he’s one of nine children -- he and his wife Dawn have two daughters and a son -- and he’s counseled literally hundreds of children during his career.