Cowboy Ethics has been named the premier program of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming. We are excited so many young people are learning the cowboy code and implementing the principles into their lives.


January 22, 2013 12:10 pm  •  by Lani McBee

The Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming has a saying: “Great Futures Start Here!”

In 2011, the club adopted “Formula for Impact,” an initiative that gives the club a clear direction to ensure they make a difference and help kids.

The club hopes members have fun in a safe and positive environment, surrounded by supportive relationships. Members are also given lots of opportunities and recognition. The goal is to help each member achieve academic success, a healthy lifestyle and good character and citizenship. That’s why the club’s motto is “Great Futures Start Here!”

Academic success for a club member is defined as being a graduate from high school who’s ready for college, trade school, the military or employment. Project Learn is an example of the club’s targeted programs for education and career development. Tutoring is offered every day after school in the Power Hour. Even kindergartners participate in the Power Hour. Mills Elementary School requires 20 minutes of reading every night. Older club members might read to the younger members to help them meet their reading requirement and at the same time develop their leadership and mentoring skills.

Healthy lifestyles at the club are defined as adopting a healthy diet, practicing healthy lifestyle choices and making a lifelong commitment to fitness. The club’s SMART programs are all about prevention and education. They address problems such as drug and alcohol use or premature sexual activity, and offer self-esteem enhancement programs for girls ages 8-17. They also promote and teach responsibility to boys ages 11-14.

Each of the club’s locations offer arts and craft programs on a daily basis, along with daily gym activities aimed at getting all of the kids up and moving. The clubs also offer numerous sports leagues.

Good character and citizenship are also important at the club. Being an engaged citizen involved in the community is urged. Members, for example, are encouraged to register to vote and model strong character.

Today, the premier program of the clubs is a Cowboy Ethics program.

Cowboy Ethics is based on the James Owen book, “Cowboy Ethics.” Titled the Wyoming Youth Initiative, this program empowers young people to create and live by their own code. The program promotes ethics and leadership among Casper youth — the Code of the West.

Jessica Baxter is the program development coordinator. She’s responsible for the planning within local clubs and training for other organizations. Andrew Snead is the program coordinator responsible for implementing Cowboy Ethics at the club’s teen center, the juvenile detention center and Casper’s high schools. The programs focus on inspiring and engaging young people, helping them to decide for themselves what they want to stand for and what kind of person they want to be.

The Code of the West is comprised of 10 principles by which to live, such as “When you make a promise, keep it!” or “Remember that some things aren’t for sale.”

The code curriculum is built around the 10 principles. Discussions might begin with words such as honor and respect. The age-appropriate learning activities vary and might be a game, role playing, or a written exercise. Through these activities, kids have a chance to determine for themselves the connection between the principle of keeping a promise and the concept of honor.

Group members seek out and discover the answers to three questions: What do I believe? Why do I believe it? And how does my life show it?

Baxter is working with the staff at Woods School to implement the Cowboy Ethics initiative as a pilot program for the school’s K-8th grades.

Twice a month program coordinators visit Woods and lead group activities and Woods’ teachers regularly employ Cowboy Ethics activities in their classrooms.

Students say the program has had an impact on them and that they enjoy talking to each other about problems and fears. One student said, “I think we could all use come cowboy ethics and learn a few more manners.” Another said, “I do think this code benefits you because it helps you learn who you really are and not someone you’re not.”

Article originally posted in The Casper Journal.