King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Launch Course

I have some news, but first things first. An entry about the Steps Ahead launch course this weekend.

Friday morning I got up very freaking early and headed over to Camp Burton for the course. I got there just in time for the first run. The students and mentors run a mile every morning. The times are recorded. The activity isn't a race, except against yourself. I just recorded times as runners crossed the finish line.

Friday my big job was running the spider web activity. Basically, a web of ropes is strung between two trees. A group of mentors and students has to get from one side to the other without touching the ropes. The fun part is I get to gag someone if I want to. So the bossy types get it.

Because they are short mentors, I had to sit in as a mentor Friday evening. They can match 2 students to 1 mentor, but there's an activity Friday that requires one-to-one. Basically, all the students sit in a circle facing mentors. Each mentor gets to evaluate the participation level of the student facing him or her, letting them know how the student appears to the mentor. The students rotate about every 3 or 4 minutes. After that activity, the tables are turned. The students assess the participation level of the mentors one by one. So I got to be a pretend mentor for the activity.

Saturday morning I worked the run again. This time I was a sign holder. My sign said Go For It! I placed myself just around the bend from the finish line. My job was to encourage students and mentors to push themselves the last bit to the finish.

I had very little to do the rest of the morning and afternoon. There were workshops conducted during that period. And then Gender Circle which is a male-only or female-only time to get the students to open up without the presence of the opposite sex. I didn't participate in it this year.

However, in the evening the course starts focusing on the box. Basically, working with the students and mentors to identify the box in which they live. You know, as in think outside the box. In other words, what's the behavior that you stick to that's comfortable, that works somewhat to protect you from your insecurities, but that ultimately inhibits you from realizing your potential. Things like being a control freak, overly shy, bitchy, clowning, etc. The guy who runs the course pushes a theory that there's a single event in your life from the age of 3 to 7 that starts people on the road to this behavior. And part of the exercise is to find this event. I don't buy it, but I do believe that people start developing their habits early and early events build and reinforce them. Anyway, my job during this exercise was to coach the students and mentors to help them figure out what the biggest behavior of this sort is that they have and whether they want to step outside it. It's not really that hard to do, but a lot of times people are just too close to their own behavior to see it. For instance, one person's behavior was indecisiveness. If he never decides to do anything, he never fails at anything. He also never does anything either. He couldn't decide if making decisions was his problem or not. Eh, it might not be, but it's a good start. I got to coach him through seeing that. Plus a few others.

Sunday is another run. I held another sign. This time much further into the course. After the last kid ran by, I jogged with him most of the rest of the way back. He totally kicked it at the end, and left me in the dust.

The final ceremony of the course is an event where the students and mentors symbolically step outside the box, pledging to learn to live without their behavior for the school year. That happens Sunday. This one took a long time because a number of people had a hard time with that. We didn't get finished until nearly 6 pm.

After that was cleanup and a rush to get to the 7:10 ferry. I drove three Steps Up kids home. Steps Up are the upper classmen who sign up to help. They rode over with freshman and mentors on Thursday, but the ride home is supposed to be just the students and mentors. So I packed three of them into my car. I've worked with all three before so we had a good time on the ride back.
Tags: community for youth, mentoring

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