"The great criminologist James Q. Wilson says all his studies have led to the same conclusion: Crime begins when children are not given adequate moral training, when they do not develop internal restraints on impulsive behavior.

I see our failure to achieve this in the eyes of the kids I visit in prison—the steely stares of 16-year old killers with no regard for human life. The barbarians in our midst are our own kids because we have failed to civilize them.

The shock isn’t that kids kill kids; It’s that it doesn’t happen more often. As the scripture puts it, we’ve sown the wind, now we’re reaping the whirlwind.”

- Chuck Colson,  Breakpoint  Read full article

This quote inspired the expansion of the original Character Club. It went from a group for girls to a co-ed group at my church to now a book series to share with everybody!

how to Run your own Character Club

General Format for Character Club - Based on 90 minutes

15 minutes: Begin with Healthy Snack (two food groups, protein and a veggie or fruit) This can be a time for students to engage in free conversation or it can be guided. Would you Rather questions are great for this. 

15 minutes: Play a cooperative game. Character Club games always encourage working together to meet a common goal. Competitive games go against the nature of working together. 

30 minutes: Lesson - These are adapted from Character Choice Curriculum developed by Vernie Schorr-Love. This curriculum offers 4 lessons on each of the eight virtues: Compassion, Forgiveness, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Initiative, Cooperation, Perseverance

You can meet weekly for 8 months and cover each virtue in a month. Or cycle through them teaching the 1st lesson from each virtue, then going back and teaching the 2nd lesson from each virtue and so on.

Our groups met for 5 weeks in October and April. We spent one week on each virtue with a week for a service project at the end. In October, the group covers Compassion, Forgiveness, Integrity and Respect. The 5th week is for a service project in the community like raking a neighbors leaves, picking up trash around the school grounds, taking care packages to a local police station or fire station. In April, we cover Responsibility, Initiative, Cooperation and Perseverance. The group met for three years and did three of the four lessons provided in the Character Choice curriculum.

Sample Lesson on Compassion

15 - 30 minutes: Focus on Responsibility - The first year we used this for completing homework so that coming to club would not add stress to students’ schedules.

We also experimented with reading a book encouraging strong character or just having silent reading time and letting students choose a book from baskets provided. 

The CC series can be read aloud, a chapter or two each week.

Use this closing time to meet the individual needs or your group.