Being a Mentor
While I’ve often thought I’d like to have a mentor, the truth is I never thought much about being one.
Now thanks to a special young man from Niagara, I find myself in exactly that position.
I must say it’s kind of fun especially because Cameron Sault is without a doubt, a young man to watch.
While some in Niagara will know him as a Junior B Hockey player, he was identified as an emerging leader by Stacey Green, one of his instructors in the Recreation and Leisure Services Program at Niagara College.
Upon graduating this year he moved to Edmonton at his own expense to join our team as a Youth Engagement Coordinator for a provincial initiative called ACE Communities – an acronym for active, creative, engaged.
Although it was a risk for both he and our team, something just seemed to click from the first phone interview.
Cameron is a band member of the New Credit First Nation and was born and raised on Six Nations Reserve. He’s had first hand experience dealing with change at an early age, having to move off-reserve to attend high school and to play junior hockey in the Niagara region. He believes these experiences have helped him identify with the changes many youth are dealing with these days. Additionally he has learned and can share how sport and recreation can serve as a catalyst for leadership, community development, and overall well-being.
Although only twenty two years of age, he has a fair bit of experience in both paid and volunteer positions, developing, implementing, and evaluating programs for children and youth that include day camps, after school programs, and youth drop-ins. He’s also worked and volunteered as a youth hockey instructor, special needs and education assistant, and as an aboriginal mentor assistant.
Although I figured it was my job to create an environment that would help him learn more from those with more experience in his chosen profession as a recreation practitioner, manage his career, and ultimately be successful, it took me a while to figure out exactly what that entailed.
Now I know being a mentor first means getting to know one another and to build trust.
It helped that Cameron lived with my husband and I for the first two weeks after he arrived. It didn’t take long to learn that he was polite, appreciative, and eager to learn.
Part of being a good mentor also means opening doors to new experiences. As a result, when we met with Canwest and Global TV to pitch a television show and discuss a multi-media campaign, he came along to observe. When we recently toured with motivational speaker, Ian Hill, we put Cameron on the spot to do the introduction. There was no one prouder than I to learn he is a gifted and natural speaker in front of an audience.
Being a mentor may also involve serving as a confidant, sounding-board and advisor on both work and personal matters.
It also means keeping an eye out for potential threats to one’s mentee allowing them to adjust before they become significant problems. Although in Cameron’s case there haven’t been any serious issues, we have provided feedback about different strategies for staying organized.
There have also been many “teachable moments” where all members of our team have been generous in transferring knowledge, sharing their experiences and recommending assignments.
Having a mentee among us has also kept all of us on our toes as we know that we’re modeling ethics, values, beliefs, attitudes, strategies and procedures. We’ve had to be keenly aware of our own behavior and what it is saying about our organization.
As for Cameron himself, he’s modeling the behaviours one would hope to see in a mentee. He’s been honest and open, receptive to feedback and insight, proactive about seeking information and feedback, and willing to follow through on advice and direction.
All in all, it’s working well for everyone. Margaret and Cecil Sault have done a great job of raising a confident, kind, and talented son who’s destined for success. Stay tuned.Posted on 09-22-08
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