I became a BCYMP mentor about 8 months ago. About a year earlier, my wife had started to get active on the BCYMP board and I started to think about getting involved. My own kids were getting to the age of being mostly independent, the nights of spending several hours helping with homework or running them to their extra-curricular events were coming to an end. I was starting to think about how I could help elsewhere.
In January of 2019, a United Way person came into our work to discuss all of the volunteer activities and needs in the Brookings Community and really emphasized the need for male youth mentors in the county. That’s when I decided that it was time to start being more involved in the community.
I applied to be a mentor and about a month later was paired up with a 9 year old in Volga. My first concern was if I could come up with good activities, if I could be interesting enough for my mentee and if I would even know what to talk about week in and week out. Well,in this case, that turned out to be a wasted worry. My mentee is very talkative, and not shy about sharing how he feels or if our activities seem to be adequate or not!
From the start he was very excited about the pairing and was and still is very eager and easy to keep happy with whatever we do. Some days we are learning, whether it’s baking cookies, making ice cream, evaluating the progress of our watermelon crop or building something and other days are just more play, playing soccer, football, bean bag toss or just jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. Either way, my mentee helps set the direction and is also very open to what activities best fit the situation of the week.
The mentoring experience has been a learning experience for me in several ways. First, I have found it to be easier than I thought. Unlike raising my own children, being a mentor is less demanding as it’s not my responsibility to raise this child, be the disciplinarian, make sure the homework is done, etc. For me it’s just about being able to spend 1-2 hours a week doing something interesting with my mentee, something he and I will both enjoy. Kind of like taking the fun part of raising your own children. Secondly, I have found it very rewarding. I know my mentee looks forward to the time we spend together and, even though he is very accommodating, I still find myself hoping that what I’ve got planned for the week lives up to his expectations, which it does.
Recently, my mentee was preparing for a possibly move away from Brookings, but circumstances changed, and now he is not moving. He is very happy to be staying in Brookings County and I share in his happiness, because I also am not ready for the mentorship to end quite so abruptly!
If you are interested in becoming a BCYMP Mentor, please call us for more information or fill out our online application here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BCYMPMentorApp #BCYMPBeOne!